The Pittsburgh Steelers will kickoff their 2013 season Sunday at Heinz Field and unless any players receive contract extensions between now and then, the team will have 19 free agents at the end of season assuming all are still on the 53 man roster by then. Below is a quick recap of the players that are entering their final year under contract and schedule to be free agents in 2014.
Emmanuel Sanders (URFA) – Unless Sanders receives an extension between now and Sunday, he will test the free agent market and most likely end up elsewhere next season.
Ziggy Hood (URFA) – Unless Hood is extended by Sunday, he will test the free agent market next offseason. He is a former first-round pick so you can certainly expect that he will receive some attention if he plays well in 2013. If that winds up being the case, the Steelers will other teams set his market value and then decide whether or not they can afford him.
Ryan Clark (URFA) – Should Clark decide not to retire to start his broadcasting career, I could see the Steelers bringing him back for one more year on a qualified contract for the minimum as long as his play does not drop off in 2013. The Steelers know that he will want to finish his career in Pittsburgh so they will use that to their advantage.
Brett Keisel (URFA) – Whether or not Keisel returns in 2014 depends entirely on his play in 2013. He won’t want to end his career elsewhere should he choose not to retire, so the Steelers should have no problem signing him to a one-year qualified contract for the minimum next offseason if that is indeed the direction that they want to go. If indeed he does return, he will have to do so as a backup.
Jason Worilds (URFA) – Regardless of what happens in 2013, Worilds will more than likely be allowed to test free agency next offseason. The Steelers might be interested in retaining him as a backup, but only if the price is right. Worilds is a former second-round pick, however, so I fully expect he will get his tires kicked by several teams and I am not expecting him to return in 2014.
Isaac Redman (URFA) – Redman is not an every-down running back, so it is hard to imagine that he will receive a lot of attention next offseason as a free agent. Should he not get receive a modest deal between now and Sunday, the Steelers might try to re-sign him next offseason for the minimum to compete for a roster spot.
Jerricho Cotchery (URFA) – The Steelers wide receiver depth chart could very well be nonexistent next offseason should Sanders wind up elsewhere. Cotchery’s best years are behind him, but having him back as a third or fourth receiver at the minimum might be something to keep in mind.
LaRod Stephens-Howling (URFA) – Stephens-Howling still has tread left on his tires and might be asked back on a one-year deal next offseason to serve as a third-down and change of pace back. Should he ultimately wind up being re-signed, it will likely come with no guarantees that he will make the roster.
Al Woods (URFA) – You would have to think the Steelers would like to retain Woods next offseason being as the depth behind him is still young and unproven. He will start the 2013 season as not only a backup defensive end, but the backup to nose tackle Steve McLendon as well. That position flexibility could come in hand down the line and it shouldn’t cost much to retain him.
Felix Jones (URFA) – Jones future depends on how he performs as a complimentary back in 2013. If he does well, he will likely entertain offers elsewhere next offseason. If he doesn’t, the Steelers probably won’t want him back.
Greg Warren (URFA) – Once again, Warren will be an unrestricted free agent and primed to return on a one-year qualified contract.
Zoltan Mesko (URFA) – Believe or not, Mesko is a prime candidate to receive either the franchise or transition tag next offseason. If he punts well this year, you can expect him to return in 2014.
David Johnson (URFA) – Johnson was signed back to the roster this offseason on a one-year deal and that very well could happen again next offseason if he plays well in 2013.
Da’Mon Cromartie-Smith (RFA) – Cromartie-Smith is one of two restricted free agents on this list, but being as he is not a starter, it’s hard to see him receiving a restricted tender next offseason. He will more than likely be allowed to test free agency, but could return as a training camp invitee on a one-year minimum deal.
Michael Palmer (URFA) – Palmer might not even make though 2013 as the Steelers are likely to waive him once Matt Spaeth is ready to come off the injured reserve list after week eight.
Kion Wilson (RFA) – Wilson might have some upside as an inside linebacker, but his primary role in 2013 will be to help out on special teams. Should Sean Spence be able to make a full recovery, Wilson might very well be the odd man out later on this year. Let’s just say that right now that Wilson’s future is yet to be determined.
Guy Whimper (URFA) – I am surprised Whimper lasted this long on the roster and I will insist that Kevin Colbert be given a drug test if Whimper is re-signed next offseason.
Cody Wallace (URFA) – There is no guarantee that Wallace will be brought back next season if he is still on the roster at the end of the year. If he is re-signed, you can bet that it will only be for one year and at the minimum.
Plaxico Burress (URFA) – 2013 had to be Burress’ last shot, so I just can’t see him returning in 2014.