The Super Bowl is now over and the 2014 free agency signing period is just a little more than a month away. Today, we will take a look back at how the players faired in 2013 that were either cut by the Pittsburgh Steelers last offseason, or were free agents that they chose not to re-sign.
Players Under Contract That Were Released
Willie Colon – Colon was released in mid March as a post June 1st termination so that the Steelers could spread out his dead money hit over two seasons instead of taking the full brunt of it in 2013. Colon wasn’t out of work long, however, as the New York Jets signed him to one-year contract worth $1,162,500. The Steelers former fourth-round draft pick managed to play all 16 games with the Jets at right guard and he only missed 13 offensive snaps all season. Colon’s run blocking wasn’t great with the Jets, but his pass protection certainly was above the line as he allowed just one sack and three quarterback hits all season. He will turn 31 in April and will be an unrestricted free agent come March.
James Harrison – After failing to work out a base salary reduction last offseason, Harrison, like Colon, was released in March. He ultimately signed a two-year, $4.45 million contract with the Cincinnati Bengals and started 10 games for them at strong-side linebacker. Harrison missed one game with a concussion and including one playoff game, he played a total of 409 defensive snaps. He registered only two sacks and 31 total tackles on the season, but did intercept one pass and recorded one fumble recovery. He will turn 36 in May and if he remains with the Bengals, he will be one of the oldest defensive players in the league in 2014.
Free Agents Not Re-signed
Mike Wallace – Wallace was a big winner in free agency as he signed a five-year, $60 million contract with the Miami Dolphins that included $30 million guaranteed. While he did catch a career-high 73 passes in 2013, Wallace had a career low yards per catch average of 12.7 and only scored four touchdowns. In addition, he also dropped 11 passes thrown his way that were deemed catchable. Because of the contract that he signed and the stats that he put up, the Steelers are sure to get a third-round compensatory draft pick for him.
Keenan Lewis – Lewis went back home last offseason as he signed a five-year, $25.5 million contract with the New Orleans Saints that included $10.5 million guaranteed. The Steelers former third-round draft pick fit in well with the Saints as he recorded a career-high four interceptions to go along with six passes defensed in 16 regular season games and two playoff games. Lewis only gave up three touchdowns and opponents completed just 54.5% of the passes thrown his way. It was a sold season for the Oregon State product and the Steelers will likely receive either a fourth or a fifth round compensatory draft pick for him this offseason.
Rashard Mendenhall – The Steelers chose not to re-sign Mendenhall and he ultimately signed a one-year, $2.5 million contract with the Arizona Cardinals. While he did start 15 games in 2013, Mendenhall finished the season with just 687 yards rushing on 217 carries. He did, however, score eight touchdowns and chipped in 18 catches for 134 yards in 470 snaps played. Based on his contract, playing time and production, the Steelers aren’t likely to get a compensatory draft pick for losing Mendenhall as the signing of quarterback Bruce Gradkowski is likely to offset his loss. If, however, the formula deems that not to be the case, I think the best the Steelers can hope for his a seventh-round draft pick. Don’t hold your breath waiting for that.
Ryan Mundy – Mundy surprisingly caught on quick with the New York Giants in March as he signed a one-year qualifying contract for the minimum worth $780,000. The Steelers former sixth-round draft pick only started nine games in 2013, however, and played just over 650 defensive snaps in which he recorded just one interception. The Steelers will not receive a compensatory draft pick for Mundy, who will now be lucky to catch on with a team in 2014.
Will Allen – Allen was allowed to walk last offseason and like Mundy, he signed a one-year qualifying contract for the minimum worth $905,000. After starting the first two games of the 2013 season for the Cowboys, Allen was released after the fifth game and ultimately wound up back in Pittsburgh for the rest of the season with the Steelers. As with Mundy, the Steelers will not be eligible for a compensatory draft pick for initially losing him via free agency.
Doug Legursky – Legursky signed a two-year, $1.85 million contract with the Buffalo Bills as an unrestricted free agent in early June and went on to start 11 games for them at left guard. As a result of him signing so late, however, the Steelers are not expected to receive a compensatory draft pick for losing him.
Max Starks – Starks signed a one-year, $2 million deal in May with the San Diego Chargers, but after a dismal showing in the preseason, he was released prior to the start of the season. Starks did catch on briefly with the St. Louis Rams in the middle of September, but was released after just a few weeks and eight snaps played.
Leonard Pope – Pope signed with the Chicago Bears in early August but was released prior to the start of the regular season and did not catch on elsewhere.
Casey Hampton, Charlie Batch, Byron Leftwich, Brandon Johnson, Jeremy Kapinos – None of these five players signed with teams in 2013.
To sum things up, I expect that the Steelers will receive a third-round compensatory draft pick for losing Wallace and either a fourth or a fifth round compensatory draft pick for losing Lewis.