NFL Free Agents 2011: Players the Pittsburgh Steelers Should Avoid Signing
With the impending end to the NFL lockout, expect a flurry of activity as teams delve into free agency.
After months of negotiating who gets how much money, NFL owners are going to waste no time dishing out millions of dollars to fill our their rosters.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are no different except for the fact that they spend the majority of their funds on keeping their own players in town.
This year should be no exception.
Pittsburgh will have some work to do in a short window of opportunity to sign their free agents, which will leave the Steelers little to spend on outside players.
No problem there as the Steelers will continue to follow their model of consistency that has brought them to three Super Bowl appearances in the last six years.
With that said, here are free agents the Steelers should avoid signing.
"Madden Franchise Mode" World
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Pittsburgh will not sign Nnamdi Asomugha, and this should be a surprise to no one.
Asomugha is a fantastic cornerback, one of the top two in the league, and would make an already great Steelers defense even greater.
The fact that Asomugha is a premiere cornerback and the top free agent in this year’s class simply puts him out of the Steelers’ price range.
But if you’re still living in a fantasy land, consider this.
Jason La Canfora of NFL Network has stated Asomugha could make upwards of $19 million per year.
Paying this much to an outside free agent is not the Steelers' way of doing things, and that philosophy will not change this year.
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John P. Lopez of SI.com put together “The Shopper’s Guide to Free Agency in the AFC.”
He suggested the Steelers should beef up their offensive line with Robert Gallery and Chris Chester.
Gallery, the second overall selection in 2004, was supposed to be a franchise left tackle, but that never panned out.
Now at playing left guard, Gallery is seeking a big payday.
While the Steelers could upgrade Chris Kemoeatu at left guard, Gallery would not be a big enough upgrade for the price tag.
Chester would not be an upgrade for the Steelers. Though he has plenty of starting experience in Baltimore, including starting at right guard last season, he was called “the worst of any of the starters” by Mike Preston of The Baltimore Sun.
In fact, if Chester returns to the Ravens it will be in a reserve role. That is telling considering Baltimore’s offensive line wasn’t particularly good last season.
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The Steelers are a contender year in and year out because they are a deep team. However, with a lot of young, talented players deep on the depth chart, it is time for the Steelers to free some room.
Mewelde Moore has served his purpose, but it is time to move on.
Even though he is only 28, Moore has shown the signs of aging. His yards per carry has dropped each year with the Steelers, from 4.2 in 2008, to 3.4 in 2009 and only 3.0 yards per carry last season.
His blocking has not been up to par either, and he is not enough of a third-down receiving threat to justify making the team. Pittsburgh has two young backs in Jonathan Dwyer and Baron Batch who can compete for this role, as well as Isaac Redman or even another free agent.
Trai Essex has been a backup starting 25 games at both tackle and guard over his six years with the team, and Jonathan Scott, in his first year with the team, started nine games at left tackle.
Pittsburgh should choose one of these veteran linemen and go with younger players with higher upsides who could fill a backup role.
The Steelers have plenty of choices with rookie Marcus Gilbert, Chris Scott and Ramon Foster. All three are potentially versatile enough to play guard and tackle.
Both Essex and Scott are 28, and while Essex would likely come at a lower cost, Scott is a better player.
Keyaron Fox had been the Steelers' special teams ace and a very valuable backup at inside linebacker, then things went wrong.
Last season, rookie Stevenson Sylvester was the special teams' standout, and Pittsburgh brought back Larry Foote to be the primary backup for a lot of money.
With these two in place, it is time to let Sylvester get a bigger role on the team by allowing Fox to walk.
In addition to the presence of Sylvester and Foote, Fox took some terrible penalties last season, particularly an awful personal foul near the end of the Super Bowl. That alone made many want to cut him on the spot.
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Let’s put an asterisk by this one. Taylor is going to have to take some type of "hometown discount" to stay with the Steelers.
Pittsburgh rarely dishes out huge contracts to 30-year old players, particularly ones who rely on speed.
However, Taylor is the only proven starting-caliber cornerback on the roster.
Bryant McFadden has been repeatedly targeted the past two seasons, and if re-signed, William Gay is in over his head as a starter.
Despite his value to the team, the Steelers should not pay him more than $10 million a year, particularly with so many up-and-coming young stars due for contract extensions.
With the overinflated value for cornerbacks in this market, Pittsburgh may not have a choice but to avoid signing Taylor.
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