Categorized | Article, Featured, Free Agents

Kozora: Free Agency Wish List


Free agency begins tomorrow. Although the Pittsburgh Steelers will never be big players, made especially likely with little cap space to work with, they still won’t stand completely still on the sidelines during this time. There aren’t any Eric Decker-caliber players below, but here’s a short wish list of free agents the Steelers should consider signing.

Brian Leonard, RB: Signed by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last offseason, he saw a few more carries than expected after Doug Martin’s season-ending injury. He finished the season with 47 carries for 182 yards, both highs since his rookie season, and also caught 29 passes. His role has been the same his whole career: come in as a third down back who can pass protect and catch out of the backfield.

Le’Veon Bell proved to be a workhorse, including being able to play on third downs, so having backups with niche roles is important. There’s no guarantee LaRod-Stephens-Howling will be re-signed, and if he is, competition will be important for an unknown player coming off a torn ACL.

Although of minor influence, the Steelers of course are familiar with Leonard from his time spent with the Cincinnati Bengals. A one-year deal should be all it takes to sign him.

Toby Gerhart, RB: Just some dot-connecting here. With the team hiring James Saxon as their running backs coach, he’ll have as much insight as anyone on Gerhart. He was actually productive in 2013, averaging 7.9 yards a carry on 36 totes. Five of those 36 carries (14%) went for 15 yards or more. He also has 77 career catches. Depth is obviously an issue behind Bell.

Jermichael Finley, TE: This comes on the heels of reports the Steelers could have interest in him. It makes a lot of sense. As we’ve already talked about, Steelers physician Dr. Joseph Maroon was the doctor who performed his spinal fusion surgery.

In my mock draft, I talked about the desire for a ‘move’ tight end that can stretch the field. Finley has underachieved even when healthy the last two seasons, but with an almost certain one-year deal with little guaranteed money, it’s a low-risk/high-reward move.

Alex Carrington, DE: If Ziggy Hood is let go, the Steelers will be extremely thin at defensive end and likely don’t want to be forced to spend yet another first-round pick at the position. Carrington tore his quad in Week Three last season, but at 27, he doesn’t have too much wear and tear, and he has the size at 6’5″, 301 pounds. The injury, coupled with the relatively low value of five techniques, will make him a cost-effective signing.

Vance Walker, DE: Like Carrington, Walker has graded out well against the run. In his final season with the Atlanta Falcons two years ago, Pro Football Focus graded him as the second-best defender on their roster.

Of course, Walker has played defensive tackle his whole career, making him a little less appealing, but he’s another player that should be cheap and won’t be signed during the first wave of free agency. The Steelers can sit back, let the market sign the top defensive ends on the market, and use their leverage to snag a cheap deal—the way this team does business.

Pat Angerer, ILB: Knee and head issues have sapped his ability, and the Indianapolis Colts have reportedly moved on from him. But I still can’t shake seeing the guy who racked up 237 tackles in his first two seasons. With essentially just Vince Williams at ILB, Sean Spence can’t be counted on for anything, so adding Angerer makes a lot of sense.

Jameel McClain, ILB: McClain is another low-key signing to boost the inside linebacker spot with a veteran. He doesn’t produce any splash plays, with just two sacks, an interception, and and a forced fumble since 2010, he’s but a player the Steelers have seen a lot of during his time with the Baltimore Ravens.

Corey Graham, CB: Baltimore reportedly would like to re-sign him, meaning the chances of him coming to the Steelers are rather slim. I just could not find any fits out of the available free agents. Alterraun Verner sounds nice, but practically, the team can’t afford him, especially after seeing Sam Shields’ contract.

Graham was always a thorn in the side of the Steelers and would give the team four legitimate cornerbacks. Depth is vital at this position.

Stevie Brown, FS: Brown fell off the radar after tearing his ACL and missing the entire 2013 season with the New York Giants. In 2012, he came out of nowhere to pick off eight passes and force two fumbles in 11 starts. The Giants are making a push to re-sign him, but once free agency starts, perhaps the Steelers can pry him away The Giants also like Will Hill at the position as a backup plan. I like Brown’s size at 5’11″, 221 pounds.

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  • RW

    A lot of these guys are young-ish, but they all more or less have an injury history or are on the downward trajectory in their careers. When we sign free agents, they typically don’t come with injury concerns. I suspect we could bring in Finley for cheap(er), but I would think that we’re more looking for the next James Farrior signing given the new cap constraints. We can afford one or two solid (not all-star, perhaps) free agents. Even just landing Verner would give us a huge leg up this coming season and as we prepare for the draft.

  • pittsburghsteelerz

    I think Finley is a smokescreen for Pettigrew… a young Miller who can block in addition to being split out wide

  • steeltown

    Was thinking about Gerhart last week, would be a pretty solid addition.. Graham and Stevie Brown would also be welcomed additions

  • Paddy

    They won’t sign any of these guys, not their thing and they are out of cap space

  • dkoy85

    They are going to have to sign some players and they know it- reference Colbert’s comments on participating in FA. They have plenty of moves they could make to clear the cap space.

  • dkoy85

    I like a lot of these players and would be happy to see at least a couple signed. Nice wish list.

  • steeltown

    Darren Sproles anyone?

  • cp72

    From Indiana and have a watched a bunch of Colts games. Angerer is an undersized injury prone linebacker. No thanks.

  • Paddy

    Yeah they signed Jackson from Cleveland who is on his last legs

  • Brian K

    I mentioned him in a comment Saturday. I think it would be awesome.

  • dgh57

    Sure why not because of his age he would be a cheaper version of McCluster from KC.

  • dgh57

    Those would be my picks also if I were to only pick 2 names from the list above.

  • Tanner

    What about a Taylor Mays type safety? Give him a year with Lake and see what he can do

  • srdan

    Finley is more of a wideout, which is what this offense needs.

    Tight ends that can block and catch are not needed in todays NFL. One or the other will do. Tight ends that are fast, agile and big create mismatches, and that is needed.

    Dual purpose tightends are overated, that is 90s football.

  • srdan

    What happened with McCluster. Chiefs kept him?

  • Eric MacLaurin

    I’m really hoping we sign a high end starter for one of the key positions of need. A top db in fa followed by Shazier, daquan Jones and Trent Murphy in the draft would make me a happy camper though Murphy and Jones are probably both gone before the hoped for comp pick.

  • srdan

    I agree with you assessment. We usually have a good core that needs supplemented with players that are for depth, and they are usually not injury prone like you said.

    This year smells a little different. I think they wouldnt mind adding a good player to the core if the price was right.

    The increase in the cap has obviously opened up this avenue, but were not the only team that has more cap money. However our FO is frugal and tends to not overpay and because of that I think it is unlikely.

  • Eric MacLaurin

    I disagree.

    The fast paced offences need versatile players more than ever. The more versatile you are the bigger the playbook can be and the more mismatches you can create.

  • srdan

    I agree. So having Spaeth who is basically a tackle that can catch, heath who does both. Why would you add someone that can do the same as those two if you are looking for flexibility?

  • Eric MacLaurin

    I was only disagreeing with the value of versatile tight ends. I would like another one given heaths age and spaeth being more of a blocker but wouldn’t make it a priority move.

  • steeltown

    So you want more Paulsons? Guys who can catch but not block?

    No thanks, TEs have to be able to block and be able to catch

  • srdan

    You are giving Paulson a lot of credit.

    I want someone like a dustin keller(just an example and not picking someone elite) but bigger. A mismatch in the passing game.

  • Lucus Rodriguez

    Why hasn’t anything been announced about Ike Taylor yet? One of my favorite players for years but dude needs to take a pay cut or be cut asap.

  • steeltown

    Personally I think we can draft a TE that seemingly excels at both.. or atleast has the tools to excel at both

  • cencalsteeler

    Taylor Mays is an interesting target, IMO. Awesome player at USC and has good size.

  • Alexander Sebastian Heath

    No Paul Soliai? Did he get resigned?

  • cencalsteeler

    I like the Toby Gerhart pick.

  • blackandgoldBullion

    Stevie Brown sounds interesting, and Soliai, but only for a good price after the initial fireworks. Is mcClain one of this shotheads that’s always in trouble?

    Finley could be another of those nightmare matchups for their opponents if healthy. Also great RZ target.

    Will CB Graham cost much? So many FA’s out there, it makes my head spin, but there seems to be a lot of D Linemen and CB’s just looking down the list.

  • srdan

    If taylor is cut, there are two corners on the team.

  • Rob

    Alex Carrington? You think he means Adam Carriker?

  • Blue

    I’m convinced this guy isn’t really a Steeler fan, why would we sign any of these other teams garbage.

  • Melly

    yeah

  • steeltown

    what?

  • Melly

    How about B. LaFell(WR)? He is 6’2″, I think 27, and would be around the same money as Cotchery!?!?!

  • Alan Felicia

    Stevie Brown is a ball hawk. Most of his INTs in 2012 was him stepping in front of receivers. Something we rarely see in Pittsburgh in the last 2-3 seasons. However, with Brown’s ACL injury, don’t know how that will affect his range.
    Very surprised NY haven’t locked him up yet.

  • Steelers12328882

    lol, NO.

  • Steelers12328882

    Gerhart would be an awesome pickup. I wonder how much he’ll cost?

  • Luke Shabro

    What in the world are you talking about?

  • Luke Shabro

    I’m sure we’ll have to wait at least the first couple days since Colbert’s not going to throw big money at anyone not named Verner. I know they said they would be more active but I won’t be shocked if they wait and sign guys that get cut after FA and/or after the draft. People wanted to bash Colbert but the guy has made some very shrewd signings in the past (Cotch, Ryan Clark, William Gay again). The FO made some miscalculations, namely Willie Colon, but for the most part at least our FO doesn’t spend like a drunken sailor on other team’s players. There’s no Haynesworth, Javon Walker, Adam Archuleta deal where we got jobbed.

  • Blue

    As a true diehard Steeler fan, don’t waste any $ on these low budget bums, just get Big Ben some young dynamic playmakers & plug holes on defense In draft , so we can go win the super bowl.

  • steelster

    A backup FA OLB would be nice. What happens if Worilds or Jones gets hurt we have chris carter and that is it. I think Woodley will be cut.

  • dkoy85

    Agreed. I think if we read Taylor got cut, soon after we will hear that we signed a FA CB. I do believe there’s a reason we haven’t heard of him taking a pay cut because they are actively trying to find his replacement in FA before they approach him about a pay cut. That’s just my thinking- otherwise I feel Ike would have taken a pay cut or been cut by now. Maybe they’ll make up for not signing Lewis last year.

  • steelster

    Another big position of need is a true NT. We can get a good run stuffer and move steve McClendon to DE. We solve 2 problems with one move. So a NT and a backup OLB and a backup LT and I would be very happy.

  • dkoy85

    Haha. Iye Iye Iye

  • dkoy85

    Makes total sense. We’ll just pray all the rookies come in like 5 year veterans and propel us to the Superbowl. Screw adding depth and a quality starter to play while the young guys and draft picks come along- it makes absolutely zero sense. Please don’t lump die-hard Steelers fans in with comments like this.

    I hope you’re a betting man, because I would bet you your way won’t work for next year. Then again how would we ever know? Ugh! Sorry to be mean.

  • steelster

    do you really think the steelers are super bowl contenders right now ?

  • sean mcmartin

    Excellent take srdan, They need a core player.I think with the 7 million from releasing Ike they can do it.

  • blackandgoldBullion

    I know. Sounds too good to be true, right. I had my ACL and meniscus done and came back faster than ever, but cutting on that injured knee was a little slower.

  • Matthew Marczi

    From what I’ve read, he’s looking to upgrade from his previous contract, which is probably not feasible for what he would be worth to the Steelers.

  • Matthew Marczi

    Some people are just silly.

  • Lance E. Mroz Jr.

    Pat Angerer was an absolute animal out there. would love to see that guy get a shot at Black and Gold. Talk about a high motor guy…. whew.

  • Lance E. Mroz Jr.

    LeFell is so, so bad man.

  • Alexander Sebastian Heath

    So basically all we have to do is hope the teams wait him out and his value become less? Works for me.

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