Now that the Pittsburgh Steelers have finalized their initial 53 man roster for 2014, we an look ahead to the players that are currently scheduled to be free agents at the conclusion of the season.
Unrestricted Free Agents: (10)
Ike Taylor – While Taylor doesn’t sound like a player that could possibly be entering the final year in the league, in all likelihood this will be his final year in Pittsburgh. While he always keeps himself in great physical condition, the fact that Taylor will turn 35 next offseason certainly doesn’t bode well for him as he quite possibly would be the oldest cornerback in the league in 2015 if he plays.
Will Allen – Like it or not, head coach Mike Tomlin must absolutely move on from Allen after the 2014 season. Hopefully it’s a not a year too late as the veteran safety looks like he will be the first safety off of the bench at the start of the 2014 season should something happen to starters Troy Polamalu or Mike Mitchell.
Greg Warren – Warren dodged a big bullet at the end of training camp as he only injured his meniscus and not his ACL. His knees aren’t in great shape and thus this very well could be his last year in the league.
Matt Spaeth – How Spaeth plays in 2014 will determine whether or not he’s re-signed next offseason. The Steelers are likely grooming rookie draft pick Rob Blanchflower on their practice squad this year to take over for Spaeth in 2015. If Spaeth does return in 2015, he can expect to be asked to play near or right at the minimum for his accrued years.
Jason Worilds – Assuming Worilds doesn’t get extended between now and Sunday, he will play out his one-year, $9.754 million contract given to him back in March. Should the former second-round draft pick play well this season, he will once again be a candidate for another tag. If he doesn’t, he will likely be allowed to test free agency.
Cortez Allen – The Steelers likely still want to get an extension done with Allen prior to Sunday, but right now there’s no signs that a new deal is imminent for the former fourth-round draft pick. Depending on how things play out this coming week and this season, Allen could be a candidate for a tag if he plays at a Pro Bowl level and Worilds is allowed to walk.
Michael Palmer – In all likelihood, the Steelers will move on from their veteran third tight end after the 2014 season. He’s done good to stick as long as he has.
Brice McCain – McCain was signed to a one-year qualifying contract this past offseason and isn’t likely to play much in 2014 unless injuries hit the Steelers secondary. He certainly isn’t a future starter and thus will likely be one and done in Pittsburgh.
Arthur Moats – Moats is an interesting player and like McCain, he isn’t likely to see the field much on defense in 2014 unless injuries strike either of the two starters. It’s possible that he could be re-signed next offseason as the Steelers are very thin when it comes to future depth at the outside linebacker position.
Darrius Heyward-Bey – The Steelers are trying to develop several young wide receivers this season, so on the surface it appears as though Heyward-Bey will only be in Pittsburgh for one season.
Restricted Free Agents: (3)
Robert Golden – Golden is merely a special teams contributor that’s unlikely to see much playing time once again on defense in 2014. As we sit here right now, it’s hard to gauge what will happen with him after this season is over. He’s scheduled to be a restricted free agent and thus will be easily retained if wanted back in 2015.
Antwon Blake – Like Golden, Blake is merely a special teams warrior and nothing more. He’s certainly not a future starter at cornerback, so if he returns in 2015 it would be because he was tendered as a restricted free agent. Let’s hope we don’t have to see him play much on defense this season.
Will Johnson – How Johnson plays in 2014 will determine his future. The Steelers just don’t use a fullback much, so Johnson will likely have to show he can also function as an in-line tight end this season if he expects to receive a restricted tender next offseason.
Exclusive Rights Free Agents: (4)
Terence Garvin – Garvin enters the 2014 season as a swing backup linebacker. He is solid on special teams and being as he will be an exclusive rights free agent, there’s a good chance that he will at least be brought back to compete at training camp next year.
Justin Brown – We’ll have to wait and see if Brown even last all season on the 53 man roster as he’s a perfect candidate to be shuffled back and forth to the practice squad should a spot be needed. If he sticks, he will be easily retained as an excusive rights free agent for the minimum next offseason if wanted.
Chris Hubbard – Hubbard is pretty much the offensive lineman version of Brown. He is also scheduled to be an exclusive rights free agent and thus will be easily retained if wanted.
Brad Wing – Even if Wing were to make the Pro Bowl in 2014, he’ll still be an exclusive rights free agent at the end of the season. That would mean that the Steelers would get one heck of a bargain for 2015. Right now, we just hope that he punts well enough to stick on the roster all season.