Every offseason is abuzz with speculation about which team will go after which high-profile free agent. The reality for the Pittsburgh Steelers, though, is that due to salary cap considerations and an organizational commitment to building the team through draft picks and bargain-basement signings, the team will not make a big splash in the 2013 free-agent market.
The team will have to move money around just to get under the 2013 salary cap and maybe have a little left over to re-sign some of its own free-agents-to-be. It is unlikely that Pittsburgh will have the freedom to splurge on a big name this offseason.
And even if money were no object, the Steelers still wouldn’t chase after high-priced free agents in 2013. The team reloads through a very successful and sustainable model based on picking up new talent through the draft and letting it develop over time. Though slow, that process is extremely cost-effective, thanks to a rookie wage scale that keeps salaries down.
Not too many Steelers fans would find fault with this approach. Six Super Bowl titles is proof enough that it’s working.
Still, sometimes it can be boring to be so prudent. It’s nice to imagine what the offseason would be like if the front office were willing and able to go wild in the free agent market. If the salary cap didn’t exist and the team lived for the moment just once.
Which free agents would the Steelers pick up if that were the case?
As any Cowboys or Redskins fan knows, simply going after the most expensive players available isn’t usually the best plan. The new additions don’t necessarily need to be the most talented free agents on the market. They should respond to specific needs, mesh well with the existing lineup and fit the team’s particular offensive and defensive game plans.
With that in mind, the following is a list, by position, of the 2013 free agents who best meet those criteria and whom the Steelers could go after in a world in which salary cap space and other practical considerations didn’t matter.