Sign or Pass on the Pittsburgh Steelers Remaining Free Agents

Joseph BrunoCorrespondent IMarch 5, 2013

Sign or Pass on the Pittsburgh Steelers Remaining Free Agents

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    We can do all the speculating in the world about who we think the Pittsburgh Steelers are going to draft this year, but until free agency starts we won’t have a true sense of the team's needs.

    Although the Steelers never really pay big money for other teams’ free agents, they usually take care of their own who deserve new contracts.

    The Steelers have 17 unrestricted free agents, five restricted free agents and two exclusive rights free agents. At the end of each slide I will give a verdict on what I think the Steelers are going to do with each player.

     

    All info on free agents comes from this article, from Dave Brian of Steelersdepot.com.

WR Mike Wallace

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    Unrestricted

    Age: 26

    Exp: four seasons

     

    Whether I believe the Steelers should keep Mike Wallace doesn’t really matter anymore, because I just don’t believe he will be back.

    Even though I wouldn’t sign Wallace to the huge deal he will be seeking, I would want him back for a manageable deal.

    Unfortunately Wallace seems set to get a ton of money from someone and that will most likely be anyone other than the Steelers.

     

    Verdict: Pass

CB Keenan Lewis

2 of 25

    Unrestricted

    Age: 26

    Exp: four seasons

     

    Keenan Lewis finally became the starting corner that everyone wanted him to be when he was drafted, and now he has to be the Steelers' top priority this offseason.

    Even though Cortez Allen flashed potential in the latter part of the season, that doesn’t make Lewis expendable in any shape or form.

    Lewis has improved immensely in coverage, comes up in run support. The only criticism I can see someone saying about him is his current inability to catch interceptions.

     

    Verdict: Sign

RB Rashard Mendenhall

3 of 25

    Unrestricted

    Age: 25 Exp: 5 seasons

     

    Although Rashard Mendenhall may have the most ability at the running back position on the roster, I don’t really see him back with the team.

    Steelers’ fans have been frustrated with Mendenhall because we can all see his talent and yet he often looks like he doesn’t want to run hard and has had problems with fumbles.

    Rashard had two very good seasons for the Steelers and he is still very young however, unless Rashard decides to come back on the cheap, he will be elsewhere in 2013.

     

    Verdict: Pass

    Just for clarification, I didn’t forget Mendenhall but I must have just forgotten to add his slide when I published the article. This was the first chance I could correct that and add it in.

ILB Larry Foote

4 of 25

    Unrestricted

    Age: 32

    Exp: 11 seasons

     

    Larry Foote was one of the more underappreciated players on the Steelers last season. He even tied with Lawrence Timmons for the team lead in tackles.

    The Steelers could possibly select a linebacker early in the 2013 draft and they also have Stevenson Sylvester and Sean Spence on the roster already.

    Unfortunately though, Spence may never be the same after his major knee surgery. Even though Foote isn’t the greatest in coverage, he should be brought back to help develop any young guys the Steelers bring in.

     

    Verdict: Sign

G Ramon Foster

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    Unrestricted

    Age: 27

    Exp: four seasons

     

    Ramon Foster was one of only two offensive linemen to start all 16 games for the Steelers, the other being Max Starks, and can play both guard and tackle.

    David DeCastro will be one starting guard for the Steelers and the team will need to decide what to do with the oft-injured Willie Colon.

    Personally I would bring Foster back. But, with the abundance of good offensive line talent in this draft, I don’t see the Steelers being willing to pay Foster the type of money that he will likely be seeking as a free agent.

     

    Verdict: Pass

OT Max Starks

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    Unrestricted

    Age: 31

    Exp: nine seasons

     

    The Steelers have been trying to get rid of Max Starks for years and they may finally feel well enough about his replacements to let him go.

    Marcus Gilbert and Mike Adams seem set to become the starting tackles for the Steelers, which would leave Starks out unless he's willing to come back at a minimum contract.

    It will be sad to see Starks go. Unless an injury occurs I don’t see the Steelers bringing back the veteran tackle for a 10th season.

     

    Verdict: Pass

NT Casey Hampton

7 of 25

    Unrestricted

    Age: 35

    Exp: 12 seasons

     

    Casey Hampton had a decent season for the Steelers in 2012, and yet I still think Steve McLendon should have gotten a lot more playing time over him.

    Hampton has been the perfect man in the middle of the Steelers defensive line, however his skills have definitely diminished, especially against the run.

    Depending how the draft unfolds, the Steelers could end up with one of the top NTs. Even if they don’t, the team looks poised to go with McLendon as the starter.

     

    Verdict: Pass

S Will Allen

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    Unrestricted

    Age: 30

    Exp: nine seasons

     

    Will Allen has seemed to be a favorite of Mike Tomlin during his tenure with Pittsburgh. However, that may not save him this offseason.

    Allen really surprised me this season with how well he played and he would be valuable to have as a backup to both Ryan Clark and Troy Polamalu

    I really think his future with the team will be tied to the draft. If the Steelers draft a safety high I think he’ll be gone. If they do not, there is a chance they re-sign him cheap.

     

    Verdict: Sign

C/G Doug Legursky

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    Unrestricted

    Age: 26

    Exp: four seasons

     

    Doug Legursky may not be a starting-caliber offensive lineman, but he gives the Steelers great depth at three positions.

    Especially with as many offensive linemen the Steelers lose to injury every single year, the team needs players like Legursky with versatility.

    Legursky should be back unless the team is supremely confident in guys like Kelvin Beachum or John Malecki as the backup center.

     

    Verdict: Sign

WR Plaxico Burress

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    Unrestricted

    Age: 35

    Exp: 11 seasons

     

    Plaxico Burress was brought back for his second stint with the Steelers after the team was hit with the injury bug at the receiver position.

    Although his signing was hyped, Burress did little in his return to the team with only three receptions for one touchdown in four games.

    Unless the team has absolutely no other options I don’t see any way the Steelers bring Burress back for another season.

     

    Verdict: Pass

QB Charlie Batch

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    Unrestricted

    Age: 38

    Exp: 15 seasons

     

    I don’t think I’ve heard anyone talk bad about Charlie Batch as a person or his ability to be a player/coach for the Steelers.

    The only problem is that even though Batch led the Steelers to a win against the Ravens on the road, he seems to have lost the strength to throw the ball more than 10 yards downfield.

    The Steelers could bring back Batch because of the fact that he is a great teammate and can bring along younger players, but I believe they’ll also bring in someone to actually back up Ben Roethlisberger.

     

    Verdict: Sign

QB Byron Leftwich

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    Unrestricted

    Age: 33

    Exp: 10 seasons

     

    Byron Leftwich had his chance to shine versus the Ravens at home this past season, and if he was able to throw the ball at all they would have won.

    Leftwich has been a solid backup for the Steelers when called upon, he just hasn’t been able to stay healthy even as a backup guy.

    For that reason, I believe the Steelers will be looking to find a more durable backup QB to have behind Ben Roethlisberger.

     

    Verdict: Pass

LS Greg Warren

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    Unrestricted

    Age: 31

    Exp: eight seasons

     

    This is probably one of the more cut and dry free-agent players for the Steelers, as I don’t see the team letting Greg Warren go.

    The long snapper position is always overlooked until you have a bad one and he messes up a bunch of field-goal and punt attempts.

    Warren has been solid for the Steelers. Even though the team will bring in competition, I don’t see any way he isn’t brought back.

     

    Verdict: Sign

FS Ryan Mundy

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    Unrestricted

    Age: 28

    Exp: four seasons

     

    I have always thought Ryan Mundy was a good backup safety in his career for the Steelers, but he really just fell apart last season.

    It all started in the playoff loss to the Denver Broncos in 2011, when Mundy bit on the play-action touchdown that ended the game. He just didn’t seem like the same player in 2012.

    There is a chance the Steelers could offer Mundy some kind of contract, but I don’t see him back with the team.

     

    Verdict: Pass

TE Leonard Pope

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    Unrestricted

    Age: 29

    Exp: seven seasons

     

    Leonard Pope followed Todd Haley to the Steelers last offseason, although he didn’t really have any impact on the field for the team.

    In fact, Pope was passed on the depth chart by seventh-round pick David Paulson and only had three receptions for two touchdowns in 2012.

    Heath Miller’s injury at least opens the door for the possibility of a return for Pope to the Steelers, but in the end I think he is one and done.

     

    Verdict: Pass

CB Justin King

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    Unrestricted

    Age: 25

    Exp: five seasons

     

    Justin King was brought in by the Steelers late in the season because of injuries hitting the CB position. He wasn’t active for either game he was with the team.

    The Steelers could possibly bring King into camp for competition, but otherwise the team seems pretty set at the position.

     

    Verdict: Pass

TE David Johnson

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    Unrestricted

    Age: 25

    Exp: four seasons

     

    David Johnson has become a forgotten man for the Steelers, though he technically is an unrestricted free agent.

    Johnson missed the entire season with a knee injury and at this point I could only see the team bringing him back as an insurance policy at TE.

     

    Verdict: Pass

WR Emmanuel Sanders

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    Restricted

    Age: 25

    Exp: three seasons

     

    Even though Emmanuel Sanders stayed relatively healthy in 2012, he was inconsistent catching the ball and had problems with some fumbles.

    With Mike Wallace most likely leaving in free agency, Sanders will become the No. 2 receiver for the Steelers.

    The only real question with Sanders is whether the Steelers are going to sign him to a long-term deal or not.

     

    Verdict: Sign

NT Steve McLendon

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    Restricted

    Age: 27

    Exp: three seasons

     

    I really have no idea why Steve McLendon didn’t get more playing time in 2012. When he got his opportunity, he normally made the most of it.

    With Casey Hampton possibly gone in free agency, McLendon will get his chance to be the starting NT for the Steelers in 2013.

    There was some concern that there was a chance that one of the teams switching to a 3-4 defense could sign McLendon to an offer sheet, however I believe he will ultimately be back with the Steelers.

     

    Verdict: Sign

ILB Stevenson Sylvester

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    Restricted

    Age: 24

    Exp: three seasons

     

    Although Stevenson Sylvester was only a fifth-round pick in the 2010 draft, he was touted as the possible future starter at the ILB position next to Lawrence Timmons.

    Going into his fourth season, though, Sylvester has barely seen the field other than as a special teams player.

    With Larry Foote probably being re-signed and Sean Spence still recovering from his knee injury, Sylvester should be the top backup at ILB this season barring the team drafting a guy high this year.

     

    Verdict: Sign

RB Jonathan Dwyer

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    Restricted

    Age: 23

    Exp: three seasons

     

    Jonathan Dwyer went from almost getting cut in 2011 to being the starting running back for the majority of the 2012 season.

    The Steelers running game struggled for most of the season, though I thought Dwyer really showed the potential to be the starter going forward.

    Even though the Steelers could draft a guy in the second or third round of this year’s draft, Dwyer is definitely going to be back with the team.

     

    Verdict: Sign

RB Isaac Redman

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    Restricted

    Age: 28

    Exp: three seasons

     

    Isaac Redman has been a solid running back for the Steelers in his career and runs as hard as anyone with the ball in his hands.

    Although Redman, like Dwyer, was part of the Steelers’ running game that was pretty bad for most of the season, he should be brought back by the team.

    There has been some speculation that a team like the Cardinals, Bruce Arians specifically, could try to sign Redman to an offer sheet, but I don’t expect him to be with anyone other than the Steelers in 2013.

     

    Verdict: sign

P Jermey Kapinos

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    Restricted

    Age: 28

    Exp: six seasons

     

    Jeremy Kapinos lost the starting punter job to rookie Drew Butler because he was unable to compete due to an injury.

    That injury forced Kapinos to miss the entire 2012 season. At this point I think the team will bring him back at least to compete with Butler in training camp.

     

    Verdict: Sign

RB Baron Batch

24 of 25

    Exclusive Rights

    Age: 25

    Exp: two seasons

     

    Baron Batch missed his entire rookie year with a knee injury and then finished his second season on injured reserve due to a broken arm.

    Batch may never be a starting running back, but he has the potential to be a nice third-down player for the Steelers.

    There really isn’t a question as to whether he’ll be back, as no other team can even make an offer to Batch at this point.


    Verdict: Sign

CB DeMarcus Van Dyke

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    Exclusive Rights

    Age: 24

    Exp: two seasons

     

    Van Dyke was signed by the Steelers after he was cut by the Raiders. He was used mostly as a gunner on special teams.

    Like Baron Batch, DeMarcus Van Dyke has no choice but to be a Pittsburgh Steeler in 2013, and the team should sign him.

     

    Verdict: Sign