Defensive End Nick Eason – Steelers 2011 Free Agent
Free Agent Classification: UFA (unrestricted free agent)
2010 Salary Estimation: $755,000 Base – $755,000 Cap Charge
Analysis: We continue our breakdown player by player at each Steelers free agents as we head deeper into the offseason and free agency. Next up for analysis is defensive end Nick Eason. Eason will be 31 this offseason and comes of a season that saw him start 5 games when defensive ends Brett Keisel and Aaron Smith were down with injuries. When not start starting, Eason was used to spell both Keisel and second year end Ziggy Hood. Although he was just adequate in the Dick LeBeau system, he was not dominate by any stretch of the imagination and ended the season with just 16 tackles and 1.5 sacks while on the field for more than 500 snaps.
Eason is well liked reportedly in the locker-room and overcame an offseason that included emergency surgery to remove his appendix and part of his colon. Eason, who lost nearly 30 pounds in the process, battled back to make the 53 man roster after beating out several young defensive ends in training camp.
Eason fully understands his role in the LeBeau system and is good about staying in his lane for the most part against the run and has adequate recognition of run or pass. What Eason truly lacks is the ability to pressure and rush the quarterback consistently. In games in which he saw the majority of his snaps come, he graded out below the line in both run and pass defense. He seemed to wear down as those games went on.
Future: Eason will be on the outside looking in as far as his shot to return to the Steelers in 2011. The Steelers need to get younger on the defensive line and surely will look to the draft or free agency for a younger, lesser known 3-4 right defensive end to groom to play opposite of Hood. It is unlikely that Eason gets any attention from other NFL teams in free agency, but you never know. His minimum salary alone for 2011 would be in the neighborhood of 800k and the Steelers could have 2 rookies for that price on the roster instead. Should Eason stay in shape though, he could be a phone call away should another injury strike the defensive line next year, but at this point it looks highly doubtful that Eason would be a member of the Steelers in 2011 unless the roster is expanded by 3 or 4 players and none of the youth brought in pan out. His best shot would be another 1 year contract with no bonus and invitation to camp to try to win a spot, but I see that as even highly unlikely.
Other 2011 Steelers Free Agents Analysis