Don't expect the Steelers to do much between now and March 3. In fact, they may do nothing other than get ready for the draft.
They have three starters who can become free agents in cornerback Ike Taylor, linebacker LaMarr Woodley and injured tackle Willie Colon. No one should be surprised if they sign none of them until a new CBA comes into place.
"We haven't talked about anything," director of football operations Kevin Colbert said regarding free agents last week. "There's nothing, really. All we're really worried about is that ... I have to keep draft preparations because I know that's going to happen."
The Steelers came close to winning their second Super Bowl in three years so no drastic changes are necessary. If and when free agency begins, they will make hardly a ripple in the talent pool available. The draft is again key to their success, which they always look at as long term and not shooting for the moon in any one year.
"We never try to attack this thing for any one given year," Colbert said. "The goal of the organization is to have a chance to compete every year. We (had) a chance this year. Beyond that we'll try to retool it and see where it stands --this team, this playoff run and then draft preparation. Where that will lead I don't know."
They must deal with those free agents and, if they lose them, go about replacing them. They also will continue to look at the age of some players, especially those on defense, where three of their top four linemen are well into their 30s and linebacker James Farrior is 36.
They will add a cornerback or two in the draft, no matter what happens to Ike Taylor.
On offense, they need to add more guards and tackles but that is their only issue on that side of the ball. They have a great quarterback, good running back and tight end and some outstanding young receivers who will only get better - Mike Wallace and rookies Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown to go with returning vet Hines Ward.
Pittsburgh should be as good next season as they were in the one that just concluded with them losing by six points in the Super Bowl. They might be even better with the return of injured players such as Aaron Smith, Harry Colon, Max Starks and having Ben Roethlisberger the entire season.
"I really think we learned a lot this year," Ward said. "The resiliency -- even falling down 21-3 (in the Super Bowl), a lot of teams would have thrown in the towel. But to come back in position to win spoke volumes.
"We know we have the guys here."
Nobody plans to retire, by the way. That includes Ward (36 next month), linebacker Farrior (36 last month) and Smith (36 in April).
"I love this group," Farrior said after the loss in the Super Bowl. "I think it is a heck of a group. There is a lot more football left in us. We just have to stay together. Hopefully, everything works out in the offseason and we get back here next season."
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