Tackle Tony Hills – Steelers 2011 Free Agent
Free Agent Classification: RFA (restricted free agent)
2010 Salary Estimation: $470,000 Base – $572,000 Cap Charge
Analysis: As the labor situation draws on, we continue on now with our breakdown player by player of each of the Steelers free agents. Next up for analysis is tackle Tony Hills. Hills as been a huge disappointment since the Steelers drafted him in the 4th round of the 2008 draft out of Texas. While he seemed to make some improvements during a few preseason games, it was only a mirage. Hills received a chance early on in 2010 when left tackle Max Starks left the week 2 game against the Titans with an ankle injury. Hills replaced Starks at left tackle and played almost 30 snaps there. Hills was not up to the task as both his pass and run blocking were not up to the standard. In that game, Hills allowed a sack, a pressure and a quarterback hit. The Steelers won the game, but Hills performance was not good. We would have to wait until week 10 to see Hills get on the field again as he saw 14 snaps at right tackle late in the blow-out loss to the Patriots. Most of his playing time late in that game was pass blocking against only a 3 or 4 man rush as the Patriots played mostly a prevent defense.
When drafted, the Steelers hoped Hills would become a reliable back up left tackle and perhaps a swing tackle. He struggles with his heavy feet and has trouble protecting the edges. He does not work good in space as a tackle should and the Steelers have had plenty of patience with him since he was drafted. He just is not NFL tackle material.
Future: Hills has been tendered a one year deal as a restricted free agent for 2011 and it is highly unlikely any other team will now go after him in free agency. This means Hills will likely be back in camp with the Steelers in 2011, but that is where all guarantees end. Hills will have plenty of competition for a spot on the 2011 roster and at a tender price tag of around $1.2 million, he needs to be head and shoulders above that competition if he is to make the roster. The Steelers will likely only keep 9 or 10 linemen and with them expected to draft at least one if not two linemen in the draft, his chances of making the team already look bad. Hills best shot perhaps is on the right side as a backup, but that is a long shot at best. Do not place any bets that Hills will be with the Steelers past training camp. The free one year tender is merely a way to give him one last shot in camp so do not confuse it as anything else. He is down to his last chance.
Other 2011 Steelers Free Agents Analysis