As it pertains to Bleacher Report, I normally do not write about the Pittsburgh Steelers because I fear that my inherent bias might shine through.
Moreover, in my everyday life, I do not like to speculate about what the Steelers are going to do in the offseason because as we all know, the team isn’t a big free agency player.
They like to “build through the draft” as they’ve found that brings the most postseason success.
The Steelers haven’t signed many free agents this decade, and only two of them immediately come to mind as having made a large impact over more than one season: Ryan Clark and James Farrior.
Farrior has been a defensive player of the year candidate and the unquestioned leader of the league’s best defense over the past five years.
Clark, meanwhile, hasn’t played elite but has become a regular enforcer known around the league for his punishing hits.
If you’re a Steelers fan than you know that these two are the rare exception to the rule.
Despite this, I have chosen to, for the first time in my life, write down and express my desires for the Steelers to enact upon this coming free agency period. I have found that my wants have differed drastically from what others in the real Black and Gold fanbase want.
Last season proved that the Steelers are not the same team when Troy Polamalu goes down. A safety to replace him when he goes down–even if he were a first round talent–is a rarity.
Polamalu possesses an unrivaled blend of speed, power, and natural instinct that allows him to be head and shoulders above the rest when it comes to being a complete defender.
However, when Troy Polamalu was having down years due to injury in 2006 and 2007 there was a player outplaying him.
That same player was demoted due to clashes with his coaching staff this previous season and is expected to be either cut or traded this free agency period in order to avoid the $2 million roster bonus he is due.
If you haven’t figured it out yet, I am talking about New York Jets safety Kerry Rhodes.
Rhodes has the range to blitz, play man and zone coverage, and make tackles in the box the same way Polamalu does just without as big of a splash. Rhodes would undoubtedly be an upgrade over Clark, who seemingly has one aspect to his game.
Not to mention, Rhodes is only 27 and a proven commodity. Additionally, Rhodes’ three-game benching last season could result in a pay deduction, making him more affordable in the 2010 season.
It is no secret that Rhodes and head coach Rex Ryan have bumped heads all season and the breaking point of this clash was a three-game benching/demotion.
Rhodes was benched despite the fact that he was still playing at a pretty decent level and was undoubtedly superior to his replacement.
Ironically, Rhodes was one of the first players to embrace and emulate Ryan’s bravado, but he eventually fell out of favor with the coach.
For this reason, both parties have been mum on the situation that will hit the Jets next month, though a lot of people believe that Rhodes will be released for a short period.
However, whether or not that short period results in Rhodes testing free agency is the big question.
If Steelers fans are still wary that Troy Polamalu might get injured than there could always be an accompanying “reach” during the 2010 NFL Draft for a hard worker who is already friends with many of the team’s players in Myron Rolle.
Rolle could learn under these two excellent safeties and play for them in the result of injury.
With this safety tandem, as well as the heavily underrated Role in a reserve role, the Steelers' passing game problems would more than likely be solved even if William “Big Play” Gay is still in the starting lineup come opening weekend of the 2010-11 season.
Kerry Rhodes’ addition to the secondary would offer the team “1.75 Troy Polamalus” in the secondary which would multiply the confusion that Troy provides to opposing quarterbacks because teams would now have to accommodate for two safeties that can do it all.
Now I realize getting Rhodes is more of a pipe-dream than a possibility. Hell, I know that signing anybody that 90 percent of our fanbase had heard of prior to signing them is more of a pipe-dream than a possibility.
In the end though, that does not change the fact that I’d really like to know what my fellow Steelers fans think.