The initial crush of the 2013 free agency period is now over and the Pittsburgh Steelers followed the path that many of us expected them to take.
The big free agent signing this offseason is currently quarterback Bruce Gradkowski, who the Steelers signed to a three-year contract to be the backup to Ben Roethlisberger. Outside of Gradkowski, the Steelers retained a few of their own in the form of inside linebacker Larry Foote, guard Ramon Foster, wide receiver Plaxico Burress, fullback David Johnson and long snapper Greg Warren. They also brought back to Pittsburgh a few familiar faces in the form of cornerback William Gay and tight end Matt Spaeth.
Sure, the Steelers had their yearly losses in free agency as wide receiver Mike Wallace, running back Rashard Mendenhall, cornerback Keenan Lewis, and safety Ryan Mundy all left for greener pastures, but we all knew beforehand that both Wallace and Mendenhall had no shot at returning. Lewis, it seems, wasn\’t even in the plans to try to re-sign.
Now that the market has cooled off, the Steelers will look for whatever bargains are remaining on the free agent market to fill in the remaining holes on the roster. Signing a free agent running back, tackle, guard or linebacker is not out of the question at this point; however, I wouldn\’t expect all four of those positions to be addressed. Any free agent player who is brought in from the outside, will have to come cheap, as salary cap space will be non existent until June rolls around.
There are a few of the Steelers own unrestricted free agents who might get one-year deals over the course of the next few months, but tackle Max Starks and nose tackle Casey Hampton are not expected to be included in that group. Quarterback Charlie Batch, center Doug Legursky and safety Will Allen will be the likeliest ones to re-sign that are left, but none of them are considered slam dunks at this stage.
The tendered restricted free agents? Only wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders remains a question mark at this time, but his status will be finalized by the time the draft rolls around. Jonathan Dwyer has already signed his tender, and nose tackle Steve McLendon and running back Isaac Redman should not be too far behind him.
So there you go. If you were expecting more than what happened over the course of the last few weeks, shame on you, as this has been the Steelers free agency plan over several years now. It was, as I like to call it, business as usual.