Pittsburgh Steelers 2013 Free Agents Analysis: NT Casey Hampton – Unrestricted

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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  • zyzak

    They have to bring him back.

  • steeltown

    Would be nice to have him for ONE more season, for the minimum, but they dont have to bring him back. I would say of all the previously ‘starting’ FA’s (Foote, K.Lewis, Foster, Starks) Hampton would be the last one considered for re-sign

    But, if he’s willing to play for a 1yr vet minimum, why not bring him back?

    A lot depends on Ta’amu as well, if he goes to jail and is released then Hampton will almost definitely be retained, if Ta’amu somehow stays out of jail I bet they go into the season with McLendon as the starter, with Ta’amu and Fangupo battling to be #2. McLendon had 2sacks and forced fumble with VERY limited playing time this past season and you can see that the run defense doesnt suffer either, albeit using a very small sample size

  • Cols714

    I think he’s coming back. They need the depth. He played pretty well after getting into shape and being healthy from knee surgery.

  • Ziggy Hood – Steve McLendon – Cam Heyward. The time is now to start this D-line, or else pack it in and call Tomlin’s drafts a complete failure.

  • Cols714

    Yeah his drafting of Timmons, Woodley, Pouncey, DeCastro, Lewis, Allen, Wallace, Brown, Sanders, etc. means he is definitely a failure.

    As for the DL, I think that while Hood has been a bit of a disappointment, he played really well in 2010 to help get the Steelers to the Super Bowl and came on last year after having a horrendous start. He’ll never be Aaron Smith, but he looks like he’ll at least be a competent starting Steelers type 3-4 DL. For a very low 1st round draft pick, that’s not all that bad.

    The jury is still out on Heyward, he looked decent at times last year.

  • mokhkw

    I agree with the analysis of Hampton’s play in 2012. I would also say he was playing slightly better at the end of ’12 than he did in ’11.

    Whatever the Steelers do with Hampton & the other vets, they have to make sure they’re ready to go if they want to keep them for ’13. It’s no good having guys taking 1/2 a season to get in shape after an injury; in that time you could give a younger player a lot of reps & sort through the growing pains.

    Indications on Hampton returning seem to be positive, as you said in the last podcast re Worilds and Harrison, if the Steelers were getting ready to replace a Vet then we would have seen his back-up getting a lot more snaps this past season. That didn’t happen despite Hampton being below par for the 1st 8 weeks of 2012.

    The running attempt stat you mentioned above is further skewed by McLendon getting most of his reps on passing downs. The Week 17 Browns game gave us a chance to see McLendon get some extended playing time and we were able to see the good and the bad.

    Inside 6 minutes in the 3rd Qtr spoke volumes imo. 3rd & short he gets driven back a yard and falls to his knees.That’s the bad. A few plays later he gets a Sack on a Passing down. That’s the good.

    I hate to flog a dead horse on this but Mclendon will not be the Steeler’s starting NT. He is Chris Hoke’s replacement, not Casey Hampton’s. No.1 job of the NT in a 3-4 is to clog up the middle and stuff the run. McLendon, as a full time NT, isn’t up to that task.

    We may see the Steelers draft a DT/NT in Rd.1 this season as Hampton’s replacement.

    I can also see a scenario where McLendon takes Hood’s LE spot and Ziggy rotates in at NT & LE. I think McClendon has better instincts & a better array of moves to get to the QB.

    I think another factor in the DLine is whether or not Harrison returns. Keisel was very average until Harrison got back on the field, it’s obvious that without Harrison next to him Keisel struggles against the run and isn’t free to slant inside or chase down the line. If Harrison goes, I would also let Keisel go and start Heyward.

  • JohnnyV1

    It all depends on the Steelers’ plan for 2013, what Kevin Colbert & Co. come up with. They only have so many draft picks, a number of UFA’s and few dollars to handle that. They need a plan for the entire D-line. DE Hood is ok, DE Kiesel is 1-2 yrs left, NT Hampton, NT McClendon is RFA, DE Heyword is untested then a bunch of unknowns. Maybe they go after a guy like Detroit Lions DT Sammie Hill that won’t break the bank? I obviously don’t know jack about what KC & Co. will do, but a plan for D-line is needed. Casey Hampton may fit into that plan.

  • ed52

    Total mystery to me why we didn’t see more of McClendon this past year. But having said that…except for a couple examples…we shut people down this year. I know it wasn’t totally on him but he was part of the formula.

  • Ahmad

    If he comes back it needs to be for the minimum and he will backup McLendon.

  • Great, you can name the best players to come out of his drafts. A round of applause. Take a bow. Nine players in six years don’t cut it for me, and only four of them have made it to the Pro Bowl. Only one of those players to make it to the Pro Bowl was drafted #1. That might not be the worst drafting in the NFL the last six years, obviously, but it’s mediocre at best. If these two D-ends don’t start performing it’s a huge fail for the Steelers, since they were 1st round picks.

  • Garrett Hunt

    Can anyone tell me why McLendon got so little playing time this season?