By Matthew Marczi
Player: Cody Wallace
Position: Interior Lineman
Experience: 6 Years
Free Agent Status: Unrestricted
2013 Salary Cap Hit: $630,000
2013 Season Breakdown: It was a surprise, at least to me, when the Pittsburgh Steelers released interior lineman John Malecki in order to sign Cody Wallace, another reserve guard with close to no prior playing time, despite having been drafted in the fourth round of the 2008 NFL Draft.
It was even more surprising when he turned in some quality performances during the last few games of the season as the anchor of the starting offensive line when he became the fourth player on the team to man the center position in 2013.
As is well known, the Steelers lost their heart and soul of the offensive line, center Maurkice Pouncey, just eight snaps into the season when guard David DeCastro inadvertently dove into his knee and tore his ACL on an attempted outside zone run. Tackle/guard Kelvin Beachum was forced to finish the rest of the game at center.
The Steelers signed Fernando Velasco after the game, who filled in at center for the next 11 weeks before he too suffered a season-ending injury, leaving Wallace to take over in the starting lineup.
Wallace’s first start against the Miami Dolphins was a rough one, primarily due to the fact that he was penalized a handful of times, but he also struggled in the running game, and he also contributed to forfeiting a pair of sacks.
The last three games of the season went much more smoothly, particularly in pass protection, in which he didn’t surrender any pressure worth noting. His performance in the running game also came around during the final two games of the season.
The biggest thing that I learned of Cody Wallace during this season though is that he is a guy that plays with a fiery attitude. He’ll play through the whistle and get into people’s faces; it didn’t matter to him that he was a career backup. His feisty demeanor once helped draw an unnecessary roughness penalty during the Green Bay game.
Free Agency Outlook: Entering the 2013 season, it didn’t really look like the Steelers had any depth along their offensive line, at least on the interior. But by season’s end, we learned that both Velasco and Wallace were capable of anchoring the line, and we even saw that Guy Whimper could play both inside and outside. The Steelers may want to bring all three back for next year, along with whichever of the three tackles ends up outside of the starting lineup.
That alone would give the Steelers quality depth and would save them from the need of investing more draft picks into the line for another year. Wallace showed that he can play in this league, but that doesn’t mean teams will be clamoring for his services. He’s a journeyman interior lineman who shouldn’t take much to re-sign.
Other Steelers Free Agent Player Analysis
Ryan Clark - Unrestricted Free Agent
Emmanuel Sanders - Unrestricted Free Agent
Brett Keisel - Unrestricted Free Agent
Jerricho Cotchery - Unrestricted Free Agent
Ziggy Hood - Unrestricted Free Agent
Jason Worilds - Unrestricted Free Agent
David Johnson - Unrestricted Free Agent
Jonathan Dwyer - Unrestricted Free Agent
Fernando Velasco - Unrestricted Free Agent