It’s Time For Some Time

By Jeremy Hritz

There is going to be much debate moving forward about which current Pittsburgh Steelers free agents will return to the for the 2012 season. The debate will be much less about which soon to be free agents on other NFL teams will join the black and gold next year. Historically, the Steelers are wary of signing coveted free agents, opting for mid-tier to somewhat above average guys such as Jerricho Cotchery this year, or a few years back, Cedrick Wilson. Some of these offseason free agents have worked out well for the Steelers in longtime captain James Farrior, who came from the New York Jets, and Ryan Clark, who left the Washington Redskins. It is probably safe to predict that the Steelers will not sign any superstar free agents this offseason, but what is a serious possibility (or what should be a serious possibility) is the signing of a quality free agent offensive lineman, guard or tackle. Set at center with Maurkice Pouncey and one of the tackle positions based on where Marcus Gilbert plays next year, the Steelers are in need of a guard and a tackle. The Steelers will more than likely draft an offensive lineman in the first two rounds this year, most likely the second round since the majority of the highest ranked offensive lineman (Matt Kalil – T, Riley Reiff – T, Jonathan Martin – T, David DeCastro – G) in this year’s draft are expected to come off the board before the Steelers make their pick at number 24. The ideal, though not likely, would be that the lineman that they would draft early would be able to step into the starting line-up like Pouncey and Gilbert have over the past two years. If they could land a solid lineman in free agency and line him up with Pouncey, Gilbert, a stud rookie, and either Ramon Foster or Doug Legursky, what the Steelers will have is an offensive line worthy of a franchise quarterback and one that Ben Roethlisberger has never had the luxury of playing behind, having been sacked nearly 40 times per season since he emerged in the league in 2004. Guard Carl Nicks from the New Orleans Saints and Chris Myers from the Houston Texans who can play either guard or center, are the best available lineman this year. Both would definitely command a solid offer to lure them away from their teams, but the Steelers need to make a commitment to protecting Big Ben who continues to take a pounding year after year. Though he has won behind less than stellar offensive lines, Roethlisberger has not enjoyed a solid one since his first two seasons. It would be intriguing to see an experienced, mature Ben behind a staunch line, and what his production would be, not to mention how it would benefit the running game. But most importantly, for a quarterback who has been battered and shattered, it would extend his career which, if the pounding continues, would end much too soon.

With games next year against the pass-rushing specialists in the New York Giants, the Philadelphia Eagles, and two match-ups against the ever-hated Terrell Suggs and the Baltimore Ravens, it is more important than ever that the Steelers put the money up to take care of their quarterback. We have seen how an injury can impact his game, but what we have yet to see are the heights Big Ben and the Steelers could reach behind a powerful offensive line. For a quarterback who has brought home two Super Bowls with mediocre blockers, it’s about time that he gets some time, and maybe a season devoid of injury.

What the Numbers Say: Big Ben and Sacks





















Average Times Sacked Per Season: 39.25

  • LJ

    Send attachment to Kevin Colbert or twitter Mr. Colbert, please. I hope Kevin agrees.

  • Dgh57

    I’ve been harping about the need to improve the O-Line since 2009 when Big Ben was sacked 50 times!! But the problem is getting that DRILLED through the thick heads in the Front Office of the Steelers!!! Sacked 122 times in the last 3 seasons!!

    That 24th pick in this years draft along with some compensatory picks should give them more bargaining power to move up in the draft!

  • John B.

    i hope a plan like this is put into effect. we NEED o-line. the reason we didnt fare well at the end of the season was Bens health. We need an o-line that can give time for the plays to develop.

  • Aaron

    I agree with the sentiment that the OL needs some work. however, I think a large portion of the blame has to rest on the shoulders of Arians and Ben himself. When Ben takes his checkdowns and hits receivers in rhythm, the OL doesn’t look so bad. When he waits 4 seconds for some of the routes to develop it is going to skew the figures a little.

  • Rstarr11

    You failed to mention Willie Colon?

  • Jdizzle40

    Thats because he has no clue what he is talking about

  • robertmccabe

    O line needs big help!

  • Bolgheri

    Not to mention the benefits a strong O-Line can deliver for an aging D-Line, by keeping them off of the field.


    Steelers ought to go after Ben Grubbs from Baltimore.

  • Stink

    the numbers dont support your argument at all. In ’04 and ’05 he played behind 3 pro-bowl linemen, hence only 23 sacks in ’05 and a superbowl. I agree with drafting a guard round 1 this year (DeCastro preferably) if one is worthy of a pick. Also remember that Colon will be back this year, he must either be played or cut for salary cap room. Other options for first round make just as much sense this year, like youth on defense.

  • Totally agree, O-Line need to be more consistent. However, don’t really need to waste a high 1st round pick to get quality player. Organization need to do better job scouting talented players and Coach Kugler must effectively coach these young players the proper techniques to become pro-bowl type players. Just look at the current All-Pro and Pro Bowl Players who were late rounders: Jahri Evans (4th Rd), Carl Nicks(5th Rd), and Jermon Bushrod (4th Rd)from the Saints, Marshal Yanda (3rd Rd) from Baltimore, Brian Waters (Undrafted) from NE, etc. Even old Steeler greats Dermontti Dawson and Alan Faneca were 2nd round gems! The Steelers have alot of young players on the O-Line but they need to stay healthy and be more consistent.
    Steelers need to address alot of holes this off-season including finding a replacement at Nose Tackle, Inside Linebackers, and more depth on the Defensive Line.

  • ponhass

    there 20million plus over the cap , where is this money going to come from to sign some other teams free agents.

  • Tanner

    If Big Ben wants a good line let him take some money off that contract. Then we can get Grubbs and Nicks. Then the O-line will look like this Starks(he’s cheap),Nicks(great player),Pouncey(hopefully 100%),Grubbs(old but good),Gilbert(making progress). Or what i would really do is find a way to get Mike Pouncey and put him at RG and have Nicks at left. Get rid of Colon

  • Rcsteeler

    Exactly! Couldn’t have said it better. It is long overdue. How long would Manning or Brady’s career be if they had to play behind our O line. Not to mention it would be great if our backs could see more then just an occasional hole when hitting the line. It’s obvious Arians has no intention of running the ball from a spread offense. Every team in the league know that 2nd and short we are going to line up with a goal line formation and run between the tackles. So we better start investing in some horses up front that can do the job. There is a time when you need to break your own rules. The steelers did it when they traded for Bettis on draft day and they did it when they moved up to draft Polamalu. We need to invest in at least one good, not mediocre but good O lineman in the free agency.

  • Steelerfan

    Which Free Agents did they lose last year to warrant all of these “compensatory picks” you speak of?

    And, for the record, Compensatory Picks cannot be traded.

  • kevin

    Alan Faneca was a first rounder.

  • kevin

    He was out for 4 games in 2005, so that probably would have been over 30 sacks.