The 2012 free agency period is just a few hours away now and we continue to wrap up our player by player analysis of the Pittsburgh Steelers 2012 Free Agents. We our deep into the analysis of the Steelers unrestricted free agents and we now move forward with the unrestricted group by taking a look at guard/tackle Trai Essex. Check the links at the bottom of the post to see the other Steelers free agents that we have already covered.
Player: Trai Essex
Experience: 7 Years
Free Agent Status: Unrestricted
2011 Salary Cap Hit: $525,000.00
2011 Season Breakdown: Essex was signed back in late August to a one-year veteran qualifying contract after receiving no attention during the free agency period. He also had to lose some weight first as he reportedly was close to 50 pounds over his playing weight when spotted at the wedding of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. In total he played just over 325 snaps on offense in 2011 and did so at every position on the offensive line, including center. His play at both tackle spots was pretty dreadful and it was magnified when he started at left tackle against the Houston Texans in week 3 as he filled in for the injured Jonathan Scott. In that game he allowed 4 pressures, a sack and a quarterback hit. As a result of injuries and poor play at that left tackle spot, the Steelers re-signed Max Starks the following week. Essex did not make another start on the Steelers offensive line until week 15 against the San Francisco 49ers and that too was a disaster as Essex struggled at left guard along with Starks against 49ers defensive linemen Justin Smith and Aldon Smith. Essex seemed sluggish and slow to adjust to simple twist and stunts in that game and failed to protect the hobbled Roethlisberger properly as a result.
Essex did show his versatility though in 2011 as he started the following week at center in the week 16 game against the St. Louis Rams as Maurkice Pouncey was sidelined and Doug Legursky went down early in the game with a shoulder injury. While it was not a totally perfect showing by Essex at center against the Rams, it probably was his best game of the year and he seemed comfortable in making all of the line calls as well and he allowed just one quarterback pressure in the process. In addition to playing all 5 spots on the offense line in 2011, Essex also saw a handful of snaps throughout the season as an extra tight end and even fullback.
Free Agency Outlook: Essex is once again an unrestricted free agent and he will likely not receive any attention in free agency. The Steelers are looking to get younger now on their offensive line and will do so via the draft in April. Essex is considered a lower tiered utility lineman that is a jack of all trades and a master of none. The best thing he can hope for is to sit by the phone in case the Steelers suffer a rash of injuries on the offensive line. His mobility is not what it used to be and he is a huge liability at either of the tackle spots. His best position is likely at right guard with the ability to take snaps at center in case of an emergency. I do not see Essex being brought back in 2012 and believe his playing time in the black and gold has come to an end.
Other 2012 Steelers Free Agent Player Analysis
Mike Wallace - Restricted Free Agent
Keenan Lewis - Restricted Free Agent
Doug Legursky - Restricted Free Agent
Ramon Foster - Restricted Free Agent
David Johnson - Restricted Free Agent
Ryan Mundy - Restricted Free Agent
Jamon Meredith - Restricted Free Agent
Jerricho Cotchery - Unestricted Free Agent
Max Starks - Unestricted Free Agent
Mewelde Moore - Unestricted Free Agent
Byron Leftwich - Unestricted Free Agent
Charlie Batch - Unestricted Free Agent
Dennis Dixon - Unestricted Free Agent
Daniel Sepulveda - Unestricted Free Agent
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