A missed playoff appearance could mean big changes for the Pittsburgh Steelers roster. General manager Kevin Colbert let it be clear that the team must make changes if they are to return to the playoffs in 2013.
“When you’re 12-4 and a playoff team, sometimes you get mesmerized by your success and you get a little reluctant to change,” Colbert told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, according to Ed Bouchette.
“If we don’t change a roster that produced 8-8, we’d be silly to expect a better result.”
The Steelers may not have a choice but to make some major changes as they will be at least $10 million, over the salary cap, according to ESPN’s John Clayton, while having to make decisions on the 24 free agents (via Rotoworld) that they have.
Free agents include several of the Steelers’ top offensive weapons—Mike Wallace, Emmanuel Sanders, Rashard Mendenhall, Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman—as well as starting linemen Max Starks and Ramon Foster.
They are not without free agents on the defensive side of the ball where starters Keenan Lewis, Casey Hampton and Larry Foote all could test the open market.
But that does not mean all of the players will depart.
Pittsburgh will likely keep many of its restricted free agents and even some of the veterans at reduced costs. Foote told 93.7 the Fan that he would return at a reduced cost.
While an upgrade is necessary at inside linebacker, retaining Foote would be beneficial while second-year linebacker Sean Spence recovers from a knee injury.
However, the Steelers will be limited with how many veterans they can bring back, meaning players such as Wallace, Mendenhall and Hampton could depart leaving the Steelers in the need to fill their positions with new starters.
With NFL free agency less than two months away, here are five potential new starters for the 2013 season.