Defensive Lineman Chris Hoke - Steelers 2011 Free Agent
Free Agent Classification: UFA (unrestricted free agent)
2010 Salary Estimation: $1,500,000 Base - $1,875,000 Cap Charge
Analysis: The NFL Combine is over and we steam towards the draft and hopefully free agency. We continue on now with our breakdown player by player of each of the Steelers free agents. Next up for analysis is defensive lineman Chris Hoke. Hoke is a model of consistency and a type player willing to whatever is asked of him. Hoke contributed right off the bat in 2010 when starting nose tackle Casey Hampton injured his hamstring against the Atlanta Falcons in week 1. Hoke filled in admirable and played 34 snaps on defense to start the season. With Hampton sidelined for the week 2 game against the Titans, Hoke made his first start in two years and played nearly 40% of the snaps on defense. Once again his play was above the line. Hoke suffered a sprained knee late in the blowout win against the Buccaneers, but was healthy following the week 5 bye and returned to his backup lineman role. When Aaron Smith went down with a triceps injury, Hoke saw his role expand even more and was used quite a bit in rotation at left defensive end spelling Ziggy Hood. He played up to the standard all season long and logged just over 250 snaps on defense during the regular season. During the playoffs he only saw the field 10 times on defense and did his job when called upon.
Hoke is great with the media and a good veteran presence in the locker-room. He is Mr. Dependable health wise and the week 4 game against the Ravens was the first game he did not dress for since 2005. He knows his role and plays it well. His versatility helped the Steelers be able to keep the aforementioned Smith on the active roster for the second half of the season. He has proven he to be reliable depth at nose tackle and can play the left end in a pinch/
Future: The versatility and "team first" attitude that Hoke brings to the table is enough to think he has a great shot of being re-signed in the offseason by the Steelers, if the price is right. On the flip side the Steelers have yet to make a move towards youth on defensive line outside of Hood. Hoke is most effective off the bench spelling Hampton and unless the Steelers draft a young nose tackle early, it is hard to not see him being back in black and gold in 2011. It is tough to see the Steelers signing him to anything more than a one year deal as he will likely cost 4 times what a rookie or undrafted free agent would make as far as a cap charge goes. I would say he has a 50/50 chance to be back next season, but will have some competition for his roster spot regardless. If he does not return, he has been a model Steeler player in my book.
Other 2011 Steelers Free Agents Analysis