Velasco’s Unfortunate Injury Might Now Result In Him Being Back In 2014

Pittsburgh Steelers center Fernando Velasco wasn’t going to make the Pro Bowl this season, but there is no denying that he stabilized the offensive line after starter Maurkice Pouncey was lost for the year in the season opener. Now that his season has also come to end due to a torn Achilles suffered late Thursday night in the loss to the Baltimore Ravens, Velasco’s ability to cash in during the offseason as a free agent has taken a huge hit.

Had the Georgia product been able to stay healthy, there is no doubt in my mind that he would have received a look from several teams needing a starting center in 2014 during the offseason. At worst, he would have likely been able to sign an above average contract with another team looking to use him as backup center and swing guard. Now, he is damaged goods, but it might result in him being back in Pittsburgh next season on a one-year deal.

Velasco recently talked about his clouded future prior to the Ravens game in an interview on 93.7 The Fan.

“I understand the business, I understand the situation, this is his (Pouncey’s) team, this is his offense and it’s definitely his offensive line so I respect that and understand the nature of the business,” Velasco said. “Honestly, for me right now, I’m just enjoying the process, I’m just enjoying my role right now being the starting center and I’m just trying to get better each week.  We’ll see what happens in March. I know one thing, I love it here.”

Velasco will now likely need a good seven months to fully recover from his Achilles injury and that means he will be considered damaged goods during the prime free agency signing period. If things go well, however, he should be fully healthy by the time training camp gets underway.

The Steelers could certainly use him as a backup to Pouncey, who recently told Jim Wexell of Steel City Insider that he would have no problem moving to left guard if that’s what the coaches wanted him to do, should Velasco somehow be retained during the offseason.

A move such as that, however, would likely result in the team parting ways with current starting left guard Ramon Foster, who they signed to a three-year, $5.8 million contract last offseason. The Steelers would save $1.45 million in cap space should that be the course of action, however, so it can’t be completely ruled out if they think Velasco can start for them.

So what do I think will ultimately happen? It’s really hard to speculate this far out, but I can definitely now see Velasco being back in 2014 on a one-year, qualifying contract for the minimum as a backup. They won’t have to make that move until he’s fully healthy, but it makes all the sense in the world to do. He fits the Steelers and vice versa.

It was fun watching Velasco help gel the offensive line this season and I know I speak for many when I say that I hope his rehab goes smooth.

I am, I'm me. 40 something, retired and a life long Steelers fan.
  • RW

    Really happy to hear that Pouncey wouldn’t mind a move to LG. In my opinion, it’s a more important position from a physical standpoint, and Pouncey is incredibly gifted in that regard. Center really requires a more cerebral player, though there is something to be said for being able to handle the bigger DLmen in the AFC North. All that said, I would be thrilled to retain Velasco whether it be as the starter or a backup.

  • NW86

    Yes lots of decisions to make along the O-Line heading into next season and I don’t know exactly what the starting 5 will look like, but I hope the offseason goes something like this for Velasko:
    1. He shows a commitment to his rehab by making full use of team doctors, trainers, and facilities through March 10th or whenever the league year ends.
    2. The Steelers return that commitment by offering him a 1-year, qualifying deal in March, when no other teams are interested yet because he is not yet rehabbed.
    3. He takes the deal, and this allows him to continue to use those resources and work hard, so that he is ready to hit the field in July and be available for whatever position the Steelers need him.

  • steeltown

    I see Velasco back next season as a backup to Pouncey and Foster.. that’s solid depth, something we have sorely needed. Getting rid of Foster would be a huge mistake, yes he had that injury a week or two ago but other than that he continues to be the most dependable olineman, besides Beachum

  • Weiss Chad

    Bring him back please.All I know is this lines pass protecton last cpl weeks has been AWESOME .Its even throwing ben off a little

  • CW

    If the Steelers could sign Velasco to a similar three year deal to the one they signed with Foster to be either the permanent backup center, left guard, or swing backup to all three spots and retain Foster as well that would be the best possible situation. Foster can play both guard spots and is a decent right tackle as well in a pinch and if Velasco can fill in or start for any of the three interior line positions the Steelers, the team might finally have some serious depth on the offensive line.

    And as much as I am loath to say it after thinking the front office was out of it’s mind signing Guy Whimper, if they could sign Guy Whimper to a low end multiple year deal as well he’s played reasonably well as a guard and would give the Steelers incredible interior o line depth.

    With Beachum doing well as a left tackle and Gilbert and Adams locked down on the right side if Joe Long can keep developing as a potential left tackle the Steelers might finally be getting to a place where they have a good offensive line next year without having to take an early draft pick on the offensive line.

  • Davide Fontana

    velasco is better than pouncey ..sign himand move pouncey to left guard or if we have cap problems move him to miami for a draft pick

  • cencalsteeler

    Khan and Colbert need to somehow figure out how to retain both Velasco and Worilds.

  • Shea Fahr

    Agreed. It would provide solid depth at 2 very important and oft-injured positions.

  • Luke Shabro

    Worilds is as good as gone.

  • dgh57

    Resign Velasko, then we get back Embernate, we would be set at both starters and backups next year on the interior OL and also wouldn’t have to use a draft pick on the interior OL.

  • ATL96STEELER

    Not sure what you’re basing “better” on, but PIT needs more quality OL, not less. Pouncey’s biggest downfall has been injury prone…if both he and Valesco are healthy, moving Pouncey to LG and resigning Valesco to play C actually saves a little cap money by moving Foster.

  • Jerome72

    Hate to say it but maybe he’ll suffer an injury setback as well! Nothing too serious or career threatening just a “setback” that devalues him! I know, that’s wrong!!

  • cencalsteeler

    You are probably right, but that is where I take issue. The mess we are currently in is a result of holding players past their prime. If there is a lesson learned, we will do what we can to retain him, for his arrow is pointing up. FO needs to take a hard look at who’s arrows are starting to gradually point down and make the move of releasing or trading that individual regardless of the name they don on the back of their jersey. The vested interest in the future of the team is priority, not hurting someone’s feelings.