Pittsburgh Steelers' Needs: Sign Jeff Reed, Tag Casey Hampton

David KlinglerCorrespondent IFebruary 19, 2010

CHICAGO - SEPTEMBER 20: Jeff Reed #3 of the Pittsburgh Steelers attempts a field goal out of the hold of Daniel Sepulveda #9 against the Chicago Bears on September 20, 2009 at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears defeated the Steelers 17-14. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Steelers' top priority in free agency should be to get kicker Jeff Reed signed to a new deal.

Pittsburgh has always tried to take care of signing their own key free agents, usually before they play out the final year of their contract.

They currently have three key free agents they have targeted to try and work out deals: Jeff Reed, Casey Hampton and Ryan Clark.

Depending on how the Steelers feel about the progress of safety Ryan Mundy, Pittsburgh may be inclined to let Clark test the open market.

Clark has made it clear he would like to remain a Steeler, but if he gets an offer he can't refuse (see Chris Hope), he may take the money and run.

I think out of the three, the Steelers need to focus on Jeff Reed. He has made 88.5 percent of his kicks the past three years, tops in the NFL, and he has been clutch in big games.

He kicked in two Super Bowls and has mastered kicking in arguably one of the toughest stadiums to succeed in Heinz Field.

With the current state of kicking in the NFL, a clutch bad weather kicker can be awfully tough to replace. The Steelers need to get a deal done.

It won't be easy, what with the Raiders dumping a truck load of money at Sebastian Janikowski. Good luck with that.

The Steelers will probably be forced to use the Franchise tag on nose tackle Casey Hampton.

Although the Steelers have done long-term deals with a few older veterans such as James Farrior and James Harrison, they don't usually do that sort of thing for aging players on the down side of their careers.

"Big Snack" did make another Pro Bowl this past season, but he isn't as dominant as he once was.

Since the Steelers don't currently have anyone on the roster to replace him, I look for them to tag Hampton to buy some more time and draft his replacement early in this year's draft.

Some early projections have the Steelers possibly going with Dan Williams, a defensive tackle out of Tennessee.

The Steelers still have a little time to make their decisions; I hope keeping Jeff Reed is one of them.