Pittsburgh needs to get stronger in the secondary and will address that in the draft unless the Steelers can find a value in free agency somewhere. They also need depth at linebacker and in their defensive line and could go top-shelf in the draft for an offensive guard or tackle.
The plan also is to pick up a running back somewhere because Willie Parker almost surely will leave unless he finds nobody wants him. Parker is not happy with how he was used last season after he returned to health.
1. Cornerback: Even though the Steelers drafted corners in the third and fifth rounds last season, they got woeful play at the position and could lose starter and RFA William Gay and veteran UFA Deshea Townsend along with starting FS Ryan Clark.
2. Linebacker: The Steelers have little depth and no starting prospects behind their starting four, two of whom are well into their 30s -- inside linebacker James Farrior will be 35 this season and outside linebacker James Harrison 32.
3. Defensive line: Although they re-signed NT Casey Hampton and drafted a defensive end on first round last season, the Steelers three starters are all in their 30s and they need to groom someone to take over for Hampton and one defensive end over the next two years.
PK Jeff Reed (tendered at $2.814M).
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
--QB Charlie Batch is a reliable, when healthy, backup and that is the issue because he missed all of 2008 and ended 2009 with a broken wrist. He wants to return.
--LB Rocky Boiman was a late edition to try to save their drowning special teams. He's not likely to return.
--SS Tyrone Carter won't get a contract from the Steelers again unless he finds nothing from anywhere else.
--FS Ryan Clark would like to return and the team wants him back, but they are not likely to settle on a price before free agency begins.
--DE Nick Eason, if he's willing to return at a minimum salary, could re-sign.
--DE Travis Kirschke, although he turns 36 this year, has been dependable and could re-sign if he does not go elsewhere, especially if they get nothing at the position in the draft.
--RB Willie Parker has seen his last days in Pittsburgh. They would love to have him back as a backup to
--CB Deshea Townsend thinks he can still start in the league and the Steelers have no plans for him to do that. If he finds nothing of his liking in free agency, they will offer him a contract to return.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (not tendered offers)
--RB Carey Davis (not tendered as RFA)..
--OG Darnell Stapleton (not tendered as RFA) was their starting right guard until an injury put him on injured reserve.
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (*indicates restricted because of uncapped year)
--*OT Willie Colon (tendered at $2.521M with first-round pick as compensation) entering third season as starter at right tackle.
--CB William Gay (tendered at $1.101M with fifth-round pick as compensation) had a disappointing first season as a starter but not bad enough that they want to lose him.
--P Daniel Sepulveda (tendered at $1.101M with fourth-round pick as compensation) was middle of the road and not likely to receive a high tender. He was drafted in the fourth round.
EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS
--LB Patrick Bailey was their rookie of the year for his special-teams play in 2008, but dropped off last season.
--NT Casey Hampton: Potential UFA; $21.3M/3 yrs, $11M guaranteed/$6.5M SB.
--S Will Allen: UFA Buccaneers; 3 yrs, terms unknown.
--WR Arnaz Battle: UFA 49ers; $3.975/3 yrs, $975,000 SB.
--LB Derrick Doggett: CFL FA; terms unknown.
--WR Antwaan Randle El: FA Redskins; $7M/3 yrs, $900,000 SB.
--OT Jonathan Scott: Not tendered as RFA by Bills; 1 yr, terms unknown.
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