5 Veteran Free Agents Pittsburgh Steelers Should Bring In to Camp

Joshua Axelrod@jaxel222Correspondent IJuly 10, 2013

5 Veteran Free Agents Pittsburgh Steelers Should Bring In to Camp

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    The Pittsburgh Steelers should at least pretend to look at some of the free agents still left on the market.

    There is a surprising amount of talent still out there. Why some of these guys have not found a home for 2013 yet is perplexing, but their bad luck could benefit PIttsburgh.

    Of course, this is not the “Steeler way.” That entails making unremarkable free-agent signings and rebuilding through the draft and faith.

    The biggest names the Steelers have acquired so far via free agency are Bruce Gradkowski, William Gay and LaRod Stephens-Howling. This is clearly not a team that gives much thought to free agency.

    Pittsburgh did have brief flirtations with Ahmad Bradshaw and Elvis Dumervil earlier in the offseason. Considering it still has holes to fill, maybe it is time to dip back into the free agency pool. 

    What can it hurt to bring a veteran or two to training camp? The Steelers would be smart to at least give some of the remaining free agents a chance. 

5. Dallas Clark, TE

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    Of all the needs the Steelers addressed this offseason, one that has been left glaringly untouched is the hole at tight end.

    Heath Miller is still a beast, but not when he is still recovering from a massive knee injury suffered in late December. The man tore his ACL, MCL and PCL and had reconstructive knee surgery in January. 

    There is a strong possibility he will not be ready to suit up for Week 1 of the 2013 season. That means Matt Spaeth might have to start at tight end. No one in Pittsburgh wants to see that.

    The Steelers should bring in Clark to see if he still has anything left in the tank. He may not have been as productive last year with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as he was in his time with Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts, but he still had his best season since his 1,106-yard 2009 outing.

    Clark racked up 435 yards, 47 receptions and four touchdowns. Nothing spectacular, but that's still enough to legitimately challenge Spaeth.

    Maybe getting thrown to by Ben Roethlisberger is exactly what the 34-year-old needs to rejuvenate his game. If nothing else, he can at least give Miller more incentive to get back on the field as fast as humanly possible. 

4. Vonta Leach, FB

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    Yes, I know. He is a former Raven. And the fullback is a dying position. And there is no reason to shake Will Johnson’s confidence.

    But if there is one thing Pittsburgh needs, it is a jolt to its lethargic running game. There is no one better in the game at creating space for running backs to dominate than Leach.

    Ray Rice has loved Leach’s presence on the Ravens. He averaged 4.4 yards per carry in 2012 and tallied 2,507 yards over the last two seasons with Leach leading the way.

    The Steelers do not have a running back as talented as Rice on their roster. Luckily for them, Leach has the uncanny blocking ability to make an average running back look like the second coming of Jerome Bettis.

    It may be hard for Steelers fans to reconcile signing a Raven, but this one might be worth it. Pittsburgh should at least consider bringing him into training camp to see if he can work his magic for them. 

3. Michael Turner, RB

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    Turner may be coming off his least productive season since 2009, but he still ended up with 800 yards and 10 touchdowns. Not amazing, but not too shabby.

    As I said, Pittsburgh’s running game last year was depressing. The Steelers only mustered 1,537 yards on the season, the seventh-worst total production in the NFL.

    The Steelers’ running back corps currently consists of Jonathan Dwyer, Isaac Redman and rookie Le’Veon Bell. Talk about a motley crew.

    Turner could teach these kids a thing or two about finding prolonged NFL success at the running back position. I mean, the man did once back up LaDainian Tomlinson. He definitely has some wisdom to impart.

    Worse comes to worst, he fizzles at training camp and the Steelers do not give him a second look. But maybe he is good enough to improve the Steelers’ rushing attack while providing some invaluable instruction to Pittsburgh’s young backs.

2. Brandon Lloyd, WR

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    The New England Patriots must be kicking themselves for letting Lloyd go, given their current receiver situation. Their loss could be Pittsburgh’s gain. 

    The Steelers are not in dire need of receiving help, but their current crop of receivers are not exactly amazing. Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders, Jerricho Cotchery, Plaxico Burress and Markus Wheaton are not a particularly threatening bunch.

    Lloyd would not exactly replace Mike Wallace (though his attitude could not possibly be any worse). He could, however, bring his 911 yards, 74 receptions and four touchdowns to Pittsburgh’s offense.

    Those are not incredible numbers, but they are understandable given the amount of weapons Tom Brady had last season. He could slide in nicely as the team’s third receiver behind Brown and Sanders.

    Cotchery and Burress certainly are not guaranteed to make the team, and Wheaton is too raw to be counted on yet. Bringing in Lloyd would both make every receiver try harder at training camp and, if all goes well, give Big Ben one more capable target.

1. John Abraham, DE

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    How Abraham has not found a home yet is beyond me. The man finished last season with 32 tackles, 10 sacks and six forced fumbles. Sounds pretty good to me.

    The problem is that he is looking for more money than most teams are willing to pay a 35-year-old. That is why the Atlanta Falcons released him in the first place.

    The Steelers do not exactly have the deepest pockets at the moment, but they could probably convince Abraham to take a price cut if need be. Pittsburgh tends to be good at getting players to buy into the “Steelers way.”

    Abraham would certainly be an improvement over incumbent Ziggy Hood and a solid compliment to Brett Keisel. If all goes well, he could help the Steel Curtain regain its reputation as a turnover-forcing machine.

    This guy is way too good for Pittsburgh to ignore his free-agent status. The Steelers should pounce on Abraham before it is too late. 


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