The Steelers confirmed that when they begin visits by college prospects Monday, one on the list is Oregon running back LeGarrette Blount. He was suspended for much of last season for sucker-punching an opponent who had taunted him after Boise State upset the Ducks in the season opener.
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.
2. 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.
Coach Mike Tomlin said that all players who were injured or had surgery are coming along nicely. However, he said he will reduce the amount of workouts/practice time for 30-something veterans such as Aaron Smith (rotator cuff surgery) and Justin Hartwig (shoulder cleanup surgery) this spring. Safety Troy Polamalu is working out in California and has recovered from two knee injuries last season that did not require surgery. "I'm comfortable with the physical health of all those men," Tomlin said. As for LB Larry Foote, who did not play in Detroit's final two games because, one source said, he had a lisfranc foot injury: "I feel great about it. He passed our physical so I was comfortable with it."
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.
--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.
--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: ERFA; terms unknown.
--FS Ryan Clark: UFA; $14M/4 yrs, $3M SB.
--NT Casey Hampton: Potential UFA; $21.3M/3 yrs, $11M guaranteed/$6.5M SB.
--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.
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