The Pittsburgh Steelers offseason is well underway as is our look at the free agents. We will continue to knock out all of these over the course of the next few weeks as we move closer towards the start of free agency. Our analysis and breakdown of unrestricted free agents started with quarterback Charlie Batch and we will now move forward today and look at veteran nose tackle Casey Hampton.
Player: Casey Hampton
Position: Nose Tackle
Experience: 12 Years
Free Agent Status: Unrestricted
2012 Salary Cap Hit: $4,967,000.00
2012 Season Breakdown: Hampton started helping the Steelers out last year even before the season started by taking a pay reduction to the tune of just over $3 million. The veteran nose tackle also used the offseason to battle back from a torn ACL in his left knee that he suffered in the Wild Card game loss to the Denver Broncos.
Even though he managed to start all 16 games in 2012, it took Hampton half of the season to get himself fully recovered from the injury. He recorded only 26 total tackles this season and failed to register any sacks, which is not uncommon for him. While Hampton has never been one to get to the quarterback, his ability to push the pocket and provide pressure wasn\’t there like it was in previous years. He registered just 2 quarterback hurries and 1 hit on the season in just over 500 snaps.
Against the run Hampton was not awful and he was usually reliable at being able to handle double teams in an effort to keep the linebackers covered up. That being said, when he was on the field opponents rushed for 3.70 yards per carry as opposed to 3.55 yards when he wasn\’t. When his backup Steve McLendon was on the field opponents rushed for 3.43 yards per carry. Keep in mind that these are not directional stats, but only stats when each was on the field.
While no longer considered a top nose tackle in the league, Hampton did his job adequately and was a part of a Steelers defense that ranked second overall in rushing yards allowed per game and fourth overall in rushing yards allowed per play.
Free Agency Outlook: Hampton has said that he thinks he has a few more seasons left in him and is prepared to play elsewhere in 2013. He will turn 36 in September, however, and will not be highly sought after during the free agency signing period. The former first-round draft pick also needs to think long and hard about playing for another team as that would mean that he might not be able to skate through training camp, which Hampton has never been a big fan of. Deep down inside he knows the grass is not greener on the other side. While his best days are certainly long behind him, he does have value to the Steelers at the right price in 2013. That right price would be a one-year qualifying contract for the minimum that comes with a reduced salary cap hit. Should he return, there will be no guarantees that he will start as McLendon seems more than ready to have a bigger role in 2013. However, the Steelers lack experienced depth behind McLendon as Alameda Ta\’amu and Hebron Fangupo are the only other nose tackles currently under contract for next season. Bringing back Hampton for one more season to backup McLendon wouldn\’t be an awful thing, but it will only happen at a bargain basement price. I would say that right now the odds of him being back in 2013 are 50/50.
Other 2012 Steelers Free Agent Player Analysis
Charlie Batch – Unrestricted Free Agent
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