On Sunday, the Pittsburgh Steelers decide to match the one-year, $2.5 million offer sheet given to restricted free agent wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders, and now that the Green Bay Packers have had restricted free agent nose tackle Steve McLendon in for a visit, all of the focus has shifted to his situation.
I have already outlined what the Packers would have to give McLendon in order for the Steelers not to match, and now we will focus on the Steelers plan should somehow the former undrafted player out of Troy was allowed to walk.
It is obvious that both Alameda Ta\’amu and Hebron Fangupo will not be ready to start the season at nose tackle, and the jury is still out on if either ever will be starter. Drafting a nose tackle certainly could figure in to the plan, but even that player would need at least a year of grooming.
Veteran Casey Hampton currently remains unsigned and that doesn\’t figure to change before the draft. The decision on McLendon, however will be finalized by Friday, as that is the deadline for restricted free agents to sign their offer sheets or tenders. Should he wind up in Green Bay, which I don\’t believe will happen, the Steelers would likely try to sign Hampton to a one-year, qualifying contract for the minimum prior to the draft. That deal would include a $65,000 signing bonus and would come with a reduced cap hit of $620,000.
If Hampton is not up for a deal like that, the Steelers would have to scour the free agent list for an experienced nose tackle, which by the way, is very thin right now. How thin? former New York Jets nose tackle Sione Pouha is the only name that jumps out at me right now.
Unlike with Sanders, we will know by Friday whether or not the Packers like McLendon enough to sign him to an offer sheet. As long as it is not unreasonable, I am pretty sure the Steelers will do whatever needs to be done to match it. They pretty much have no choice in the matter but to.