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
He’s the one free agent I think we have to resign! Worilds too, at the right price, but Wallace for sure!
I agree, but be sure to add Cotchery to your list of names!
It would be nice to have some insurance regarding Pouncey. He’s probably not going to be worth the money he commands in FA since making it through a season uninjured is something he has trouble doing…(not to mention the cumulative effect those injuries may begin to have on his performance).
I was thinking he was the one more likely to be signed as inexpensive backup center over Velasco. Though Velasco may be the same price, but have more offers.
For sure! There’s no way we let Cotch go! He seems to like us too. Even if we draft a young guy Cotch is gonna see playing time for 2 years. In Manny vs Cotch it’s Cotch hands down, in Wallace vs Velasco I choose Wallace’s nastiness over the thigh-tap-snap count! I kinda choose Woodley over Worilds too, but that’s just on hope! I’m real worried about CB and FS. Especially CB starter and depth! We need a replacement for Taylor and serviceable depth!
Both Pouncey and Velasco are coming off of serious injuries and may not come back 100%.In my opinion, Wallace has to be considered number one at the C position until someone beats him out now. I am more impressed with him than the other two despite his limited playing time. He needs to be resigned before someone else steals him like say Baltimore who’s C sucks. Otherwise, the Steelers might be left holding the bag and regretting it.
Matt Marczi, calling Pouncey the heart and soul of the O-Line is the equivalent of calling the Tin Man the heart and soul of the Wizard of Oz. The heart and soul was effectively replaced with 2 street guys this year. Pouncey is nothing more than a good lineman that was easily replaced. I keep saying this and will keep pounding the drum……. Im not saying to cut the guy….Im just saying he is overrated.
He is a top 5 center in the league. The offensive line is better with Pouncey healthy and playing. Wallace is good inexpensive depth and god knows we have proven we need that.
Beachum, Foster, Pouncey, DeCastro, Gilbert, with Wallace, Adams, and maybe a developmental prospect…..I think I am actually excited about our offensive line.
Pouncey was ranked number 12 last year (2012) by PFF and Velasco was ranked ahead of him.
Will say Pouncy was getting beat and having a hard time with some blocking before getting hurt…. The Gif’s don’t lie as we have all seen Cody moving his man 5-10 yards on run blocking. Now Codys pass blocking skills could have been better after missing a few assignments and not looking for a person to block as a man swept past him. But over all he did the Steelers a good service and will be welcome back if resigned. Only problem with Cody is he is 29 years old.
PFF is full of it. They ranked Redskins line as 3rd best in the league. Have a buddy who is a Skins fan and we watch quite a few of their games and their oline is bad. Can’t pass pro at all.
Pouncey will be 25 next year and has been multiple pro bowls. We are better with him playing.
Sign Wallace,Trade Pouncey to Miami for Jonathan Martin &5th. Velasco will be cheap to sign as he is currently on Steelers IR. Steelers can draft a C/g in the later rounds although I’d prefer drafting Ja’wuon J from Tenn
I’ll put it this way.. if they retain players like Sylvester and Curtis Brown year after year but fail to lock up a capable player that provides depth at a low cost..I’ll just about give up trying to figure out the way they go about business building OL depth
The eighth man might come down to Whimper vs Embernate vs Velasco (if healthy) I’d also then stash a UDFA Offensive Tackle on the practice squad
Agree steeltown. BUT, if this team does not bring in a legitimate Tackle either thru FA or before round 4 of the draft, we will all be having this same conversation all of next year.
Gilbert and Adams are in a similar group as the one you listed, but I would call them ‘Quality Backups’ whereas the players you list are not.
Wallace and Velasco were nice surprises.
However, we NEED another quality tackle. Period.
Gilbert is capable for now and Adams has not yet reached his ceiling IMO atleast at RT, so I think they will wait one more year to see if they’ll (again) have to spend a high draft pick at the Tackle position
No NFL team will want Martin and for good reason other than the fact that he’s not very good. He just wants to sue the Dolphins for a big payday. He’ll never play in the NFL again. Maybe Richie Incognito might be available. He was unfairly maligned in this whole Martin affair and he is a tough guy. He’d sure help the running game.
Each one of them saved my season from major despair. Both did way better than I expected. I hope we at least can keep one of them.
I can’t speak for Sylvester and Brown’s reasons…but having a good o-line coach would probably help with the OL choices, in drafting, development, and in Free Agency situations like Wallace’s and Velasco’s. I only know what I saw, and it corresponded to what was reported. The Steelers O-line, despite continuous depletion that never stopped, performed significantly better in the last 8 than they did in the first 8. So if that was the offensive assistant taking the reins as was reported, then he needs a LONG look…but I don’t know for sure. I just know, whatever they were doing in the last 5 or 6…I was hoping they’d “bottle that.” So since they fired the head OL coach, I’m REALLY hoping that they at least keep most of the players and other coaches who had something to do with that. My QB wasn’t LIMPING every game!!!! BIG PLUS!!!!
Embernate has too much upside to let go too soon. Whimper is what he is. I say keep Velasco if healthy.
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