The Pittsburgh Steelers are coming off of a disappointing season to say the least. With a 9-7 finish, they failed to make the playoffs and lost the division to the Bengals (a total of two people in the world called that one last off-season). Yeah, we've all felt the pain and disappointment and have read about it over and over again. That being said, the Steelers definitely need to make some key moves and decisions to bring the team back to Super Bowl form.
There are several articles here on Bleacher Report about possible free-agent pickups that would make sense (even though we all know that Pittsburgh rarely bites on big name free agents) and possible draft choices that would make sense for the Steelers. Based on previous articles I have read and my own research and opinions, here is my best-case scenario for the Steelers this off-season:
(Note: A large majority of these are huge stretches and sadly, are not very likely)
1. The Steelers Draft OT Bryan Bulaga in the first round
Bryan Bulaga would be a great fit for Pittsburgh. It is no question that the Steelers have a suspect offensive line, and Ben Roethlisberger would love to make it to year 10 in his career without five more concussions. Bulaga's physical gifts, combined with his run blocking skills, would give Pittsburgh's offense the stud at left tackle they need. With Willie Colon manning the right tackle position, the Steelers would have probably the best O-line they have had within the past few seasons.
2. The Steelers Draft NT Terrance Cody in the second round, Tag Hampton
Yeah, this may be a stretch, depending upon combine performance and how much of an issue Cody's weight really is, but hey, this is the best-case scenario. With Hampton still on the roster, given a deal is negotiated or he is tagged, the Steelers would have a considerable force in the middle.
Cody would be groomed to be a starter for next season while Hampton finishes his career with Pittsburgh on a strong note. The two would also keep each other fresh if needed. The Steelers' D-line would be great this season, with Smith returning from injury at DE, Hampton and Cody at NT, and Keisel and Ziggy at the other DE. This would set up Pittsburgh in the long run as well, with future studs in Cody and Ziggy Hood becoming full time starters within the next few seasons.
3. The Steelers Sign DBs Dunta Robinson and Kerry Rhodes from free agency; release Clark
HUGE stretch, I know. The Steelers will never sign two big-name free agents in one off-season, but who wouldn't want to see this happen? Four Pro-Bowl caliber DBs in Rhodes, Robinson, Polamalu, and Ike Taylor would be the equivalent of a Freddy Kruger nightmare for any offense, especially with a healthy D-line and a world-class linebacking corps.
There was an article a short while back on why Kerry Rhodes would be a great fit for Pittsburgh, and why he could be a free-agent. Pittsburgh would not exactly be breaking the bank to get him, either. He is one of the top safetys in the league, and would be a perfect complement to Polamalu.
Dunta Robinson will likely be a free agent as well, and the top cornerback in the free agent pool as well as the draft at the 18th pick. A true shutdown corner with experience, he and Taylor would be a top tandem in the NFL, being backed up by arguably the best Safety tandem in Rhodes and Polamalu. And that Mundy kid would have some great mentors.
Credit to Nick Signorelli for the insight on Robinson.
4. Steelers Tag or Re-sign K Jeff Reed
This one is a no-brainer. Reed has been the man in Pittsburgh for years, is very reliable (I believe he is a top three kicker in the league in terms of accuracy, even after his breakdown earlier this season), and it is well documented that he has mastered Heinz Field; no other kicker has that in their resume. If Reed or Sepulveda can improve on their kickoffs, the Steelers would be set for years.
5. Steelers Draft RB Toby Gerhart in the third round
This Heisman runner-up will provide a nice one-two punch with Rashard Mendenhall. With Fast Willie all but gone from Pittsburgh, Toby Gerhart is certainly welcome and a second RB is much needed (Mildew Moore, as I like to call him, is no more than a solid third down back) to add depth and another threat. With a bruising style of running that reminds me a lot of Jerome Bettis, and nice hands out of the backfield, which Pittsburgh has been lacking, he would be a great fit in Pittsburgh's offense, which has its mind set on being a running offense next year.
Will he be available in the third round at pick 18? Probably not. But we can hope.
All things considered, these off-season moves would build a virtually flawless team, with no holes at any position other than perhaps guard, but rounds four through seven are very important, and knowing the Steelers' scouting staff, they just might find a gem in those rounds or in the free-agency. Now, this is obviously a fantasy list, but all of these moves would be a definite upgrade and I would love to see any of them happen.
A final note: perhaps the best move the Steelers could make is to replace William "Big Play" Gay. There is such thing as being involved in too many big plays.