With the trade of Santonio Holmes for a fifth-round draft pick to the New York Jets, the Steelers have 11 draft choices, four in the fifth round.
Cornerback: Even though the Steelers drafted corners in the third (Keenan Lewis) and fifth rounds (Joe Burnett) last season, they got woeful play at the position and could lose veteran UFA Deshea Townsend, although there's been little interest in him around the league. Mainstay Ike Taylor is in the last year of his contract and William Gay seemed in over his head in his first season as a starter. None of their corners is anywhere near Pro Bowl caliber.
Defensive line: Although they re-signed NT Casey Hampton and drafted DE 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 DE over the next two years. The good news is that this is a deep draft for defensive tackles and those often are the ones who convert to end for the Steelers' 3-4, so they may be able to get one in the third or fourth round, although they have struck out often when drafting a lineman after the first round for years.
Linebacker: The Steelers added some depth with the signing of ILB Larry Foote but James Farrior will be 35 this season and James Harrison 32. They need one more linebacker for the future, even though they re-signed Larry Foote, 30, to play inside again. They could draft one either for the inside or out because if they get an inside linebacker, they could always move Lawrence Timmons to the outside if and when Harrison's play declines as he ages. If someone on the outside were to get hurt now, Timmons would move there to replace him.
Running back: Rashard Mendenhall starts, but Pittsburgh needs a No. 2 to compliment him and take over if injured, and they really have no one to do that now. Mewelde Moore can fill in on occasion but he's not really the kind they want. They'd also like to continue to use Mendenhall on third downs so they will need to give him a blow now and then. They also need a pounder inside.
Offensive line: Steelers need to find a future center and a dominant tackle or guard because they have none in what is a mediocre line across the board.
PK Jeff Reed (tendered at $2.814M); signed tender April 13.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
--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.
--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.
--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)
EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS
--LB Patrick Bailey: ERFA; terms unknown.
--QB Charlie Batch: UFA; 2 yrs, terms unknown.
--FS Ryan Clark: UFA; $14M/4 yrs, $3M SB.
--*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 wanted to lose him.
--DE Nick Eason: UFA; 1 yr.
--NT Casey Hampton: Potential UFA; $21.3M/3 yrs, $11M guaranteed/$6.5M SB.
--PK Jeff Reed: Franchise FA: $2.814M/1 yr.
--P Daniel Sepulveda (tendered at $1.101M with fourth-round pick as compensation).
--TE Matt Spaeth: RFA; (tendered at $1.101M with fifth-round pick as compensation); $1.101M/1 yr.
--S Will Allen: UFA Buccaneers; $4.4M/3 yrs, $950,000 SB.
--WR Arnaz Battle: UFA 49ers; $3.975/3 yrs, $975,000 SB.
--LB Derrick Doggett: CFL FA; terms unknown.
--LB Larry Foote: UFA Lions; $9.3M/3 yrs, $1.8M SB.
--WR Antwaan Randle El: FA Redskins; $7M/3 yrs, $900,000 SB.
--OT Jonathan Scott: Not tendered as RFA by Bills; $545,000/1 yr.
--WR Santonio Holmes (traded Jets).
--RB Willie Parker: UFA Redskins; 1 yr, terms unknown.
Copyright (C) 2010 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.