Potential 2015 Steelers Free Agent Fits: Defense


To the average NFL fan, it wasn’t hard to watch a Pittsburgh Steelers game and not take notice how much the tables have turned from the Steelers “of old.” Since as long as I can remember, the Steelers were predicated on tenacious defenses, ranging from the famed Steel Curtain defenses of the 70’s all the way to James Harrison’s game-changing 100-yard interception return for a touchdown before halftime of Super Bowl XLIII.

When teams played Pittsburgh, they knew a trip to the ice tub was a definite, and getting up out of bed the morning after would be a painful experience. From vicious knockout hits rendering concussions to Joey Porter trying to walk on the Baltimore Ravens team bus and fight Ray Lewis, the Steelers were a team that nobody wanted to face. They were based off intimidation and fear, and the play on the field spoke for itself. It is no more. There isn’t one player on the current defense that scares anybody. True, in his prime James Harrison was a one-man wrecking crew, and even at 37, still effective, but he’s not the player he was once was.

Now, the Steelers are known more for their high-flying offense led by their modern day version of the triplets, in quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, running back Le’Veon Bell and wide receiver Antonio Brown. In 2014, pretty much every single offensive passing, rushing and receiving category was reset by these three, and with the arrow pointing nowhere but up, who’s to say they won’t be reset again next season?

The defense is another matter though, The pass defense was amongst the worst in the league, and at times appeared puzzle-pieced together from a scrap heap of players, leftover from other teams. The pass rush mustered only 33 sacks, after posting only 34 in 2013 and 37 in 2012. It’s obviously in a state of regression and who knows if next season the team will be able to even crack 30 without an infusion of talent. The rush defense, although coming on strong towards the end of the season, finished sixth against the run, allowing 100.3 yards-per-game. I can remember the stretch of games where the Steelers defense didn’t allow a 100-yard-rusher, period. The defense, at every level, needs somewhat of a kickstart, and although usually not big spenders in free agency, there are several free agents who could fit the bill.

Starting with the defensive line, the team is set long-term at defensive end, as Cameron Heyward, the team co-leader with 7.5 sacks, and rookie second-rounder Stephon Tuitt are the bookends. Although nose tackle Steve McLendon has done a decent job, the drop off between him and Casey Hampton is immense. any 3-4 defensive front needs a two-gap plugger right in the middle. Behemoth rookie Daniel McCullers played more and more down the stretch, logging a season-high in snaps in the loss to Baltimore. He showed a lot of promise but is far from a finished product. An interesting name that will be available on the free agent market is B.J. Raji. Coming off his one-year “prove-it” deal with the Green Bay Packers, he suffered a season-ending torn biceps in the preseason. He was formidable against the run earlier in his career, before being asked to play out of position as a 3-4 end. This past season, it was reported he’d be playing more of his natural position at nose tackle, but that never materialized. He could probably be had at a bargain rate, and with McLendon only signed through 2015, who knows what the future could hold. And if even for depth, how much worse than Cam Thomas could he be?


As far as pass rushers, the top rated one on the market is Justin Houston, who led the league with 22 sacks. Can the team afford him though? It’s highly unlikely, even after the cap relief that’s expected after signing Roethlisberger to a long-term deal. A name to watch is Brandon Graham of the Philadelphia Eagles. A rotational player for much of his career, he’s capable of playing in a 4-3 or a 3-4, but may be more suited for the latter. At 6-foot-2 and 265 pounds, he’s built like a LaMarr Woodley clone and could possibly flourish given a change of scenery. Another name to keep tabs on is Jabaal Sheard of the Cleveland Browns. After being passed up by Paul Kruger and Barkevious Mingo on the depth chart, Sheard posted a career-low two sacks this past season, after posting 8.5 in 2011, his rookie year. The Steelers could kill two birds with one stone here, by not only helping solidify a position of need but also weakening a division rival.

Last, but most definitely not least, is the secondary, particularly cornerback. Kareem Jackson had a solid year for the Houston Texans and is still young, at the age of 26. A target fans would love to see in black and gold is Byron Maxwell of the Seattle Seahawks. The odd man out in Seattle’s feared “Legion of Boom” secondary, Maxwell could be signed and shore up arguably the team’s biggest position of need. A big, physical corner at 6-foot-1 and 207 pounds, his coverage skills plus physicality versus the run could make him a target the front office covets.

There are holes at every level of the defense, and with the offense seemingly set, retooling is needed, and the obvious direction of focus is on defense.

  • dgh57

    Whatever FAs we sign this off season lets do better than we did last off season!

  • Col. Angus

    Can’t argue with any names you put out. I think OLBs Sheard or possibly Graham would be good additions at the right price. I notice you left McPhee off of the list. This would also help weaken a division rival. I think the situation with Worilds needs to be settled as part of this equation though.
    Jackson or Maxwell would be good additions too. The signing of one of these guys could lessen pressure in the draft of a CB early.
    Would you forgo any of the defensive positions in rounds 1 or 2 if a stud TE or OLT is available when the Steelers pick? (The question is to the writer, not those who chime in with one word answers…)

  • Louis Goetz

    Don’t forget Pernell McPhee of the Ravens. He’s in a backup role, but wants to be the center of a defense and the Steelers certainly can oblige him. He registered 7.5 sacks last year behind Dumervil and Suggs, which is pretty eye opening. Of course, the Ravens want to resign the 26 year old, but can they afford to? The Steelers can if they let Worilds walk. I’d love to see McPhee and someone like Brandon Graham on the outside, with Heyward, Tuitt and McClendon/McCullers up front, the Steelers front 7 would be more than formidable again.

  • Col. Angus

    I also wondered why he was left off of the list.???

  • Steelers12328882

    Well, we don’t need a NT. That’s for sure. McLendon is more than decent. It’s his injury history that’s a problem. We might have 2 starters at DE, but there’s zero depth, so that’s a far greater need. If Raji can’t play DE in a 3-4 then why would we want him? There has to be a few better fits for our defense, right? Definitely need an OLB too, but Brandon Graham has stated he doesn’t want to play in a 3-4, so that’s a no too. I really like Sheard though, but only at a cheap price. He had basically the same snap counts as Mingo, but 2 sacks is just not getting it done. Someone will break the bank for Kareem Jackson too, but it won’t be us. I’m guessing Maxwell will cost too much as well, and I personally don’t think he’s all that good. I’d rather have Willy Gay.

  • Lucas Campbell

    University of Minnesota TE Maxx Williams will more than likely be there at 22. Being compared to the Cowboys Jason Witten with his intangibles, coupled with Heath Miller battling Father Time, that could definitely be a direction the team could go.

  • Louis Goetz

    I just saw the article giving the hint that Graham wanted to go back to being a 4-3 end, as opposed to a 3-4 OLB so he doesn’t have to go backwards. I thought it was a hint from his camp; not directly from him. That sucks, after McPhee he was number one on my wish list.

  • Lucas Campbell

    McPhee would definitely be a great pickup. At nearly 280 pounds, he almost to a T, reminds of former Raven Adalius Thomas. He can play anywhere in the front seven and shows tremendous athleticism for a man his size.

  • steeltown

    All names mentioned are intriguing at this point. We NEED to bring in someone at the OLB or CB position to relieve some pressure and need come draft weekend

  • Louis Goetz

    If the Steelers can sign McPhee to a long-term, large bonus deal, along with Sheard or Graham, and use Moats and either Jones (Jarvis or Howard) to back them up, the linebacker spots inside and out will be very, very strong. Add Maxwell, who’s also 26, and the Steelers will definitely be in position to move up in the draft and take whomever they really covet, or conversely, move down and stack draft picks for next year.

  • NYCSteelCurtain

    Would love to see this happen. I don’t think we will be able to sure up Jackson or Maxwell along with another OLB to fill the void. Of course this is all dependent on Worilds coming back (which I think is unlikely).

    I love the though of Maxx in this offense. Most likely we would have to move up in the 2nd to grab him.

  • Steelers12328882

    I’m not sure signing 2 starting OLBs and a starting CB is realistic. We’ll be lucky to do one of those things.

  • Steelers12328882

    He’s seen by most as the top free agent at his position(other than J Houston). He’ll be paid more than Worilds.

  • Alan Felicia

    Brian Orakpo is a Unrestricted FA and coming off a pectoral injury. Money might be flexible since he’s coming off injury. He is only 28 and Washington was a 3-4 defense under Haslett.

  • Jason White

    Byron Maxwell is definitely a guy I would like to see them pursue. He is the less known commodity in the Legion of Boom but you wouldn’t know it the way he plays. He would instantly make the Steelers secondary stronger.

  • cp72

    I think a guy like Brandon Graham is really interesting. We need to get back to that body type. NFL left tackles eat these 230-245 guys for lunch.

    Dion Jordan, Mingo, Jarvis, and Bruce Irvin are guys that have struggled to different extents. The reason us you can’t just run by NFL left tackles. You need power maybe more so than speed, James Harrison is a perfect example. If it’s not Graham I’m okay with that, but we need to get back to these 260 lbs guys on the edge.

  • Jeff

    I know it’s out of character for the Steelers to be active in mid to high level free agents, but some of these names would look GREAT in black and gold. I like the idea of Byron Maxwell. If we somehow ended up signing him, I’d still say the Steelers should focus on drafting a CB early on.

  • Alan Felicia

    Hometown kid Derrick Morgan from Tennessee Titans is an Unrestricted FA. Someone the Steelers might look into since Morgan hasn’t been spectacular but at 26 (years old), will be cheap, and someone that might be a player with the right team. Averaged 6 sacks the last 3 years.

  • Lewis

    Is Maxwell going to be a Mitchell part 2, just another product of a good system?

  • CodeNameJerk

    I’d like one of each, please and thank you.

  • SnoopDogg123

    If I had to pick one, it would be Brandon Graham. I think he’d be affordable & the best fit for our defense.

  • SnoopDogg123

    Bruce Irvin has done well as a WLB, but I see your point. I’d rather draft a 260-270 lbs. DE, trim him down a bit & convert him into an OLB.

  • SnoopDogg123

    My only question about Maxwell would be is he a product of Seattle’s system or truly a good CB? It’s hard to judge when he plays in a secondary with so many great players & and a dominant front 7.

  • SnoopDogg123

    Good question.

  • steeltown

    I’ll be happy with bringing in ONE quality FA at either OLB or CB

  • dkoy85

    I’d really like to see the money that we would spend to put the tag on Worilds go towards a top OLB and pick up another McCain, or two(along with McCain). Then draft OLB and CB in the top 3 rounds and another CB later in the draft. I think the more competition at both positions, the more likely we will be able to uncover a gem or two and solidify the OLB and CB positions. But then again, what do I know?

  • Umbra Aeternus

    He is probably going to resign with the Redskins. And even after being injuried, I think he might be more expensive than Worilds

  • Jeff

    Good point. I think the fact that it’s hard to judge whether he’s just a “product of the system” will make his price tag a little more reasonable. If he comes at a premium price, then I think it’s worth a shot. The reward outweighs the risk IMO.

  • JIM

    Have to get a FA OLB that can come in and start. Can’t wait for a rookie to develop. Be nice to get a DB but we could live with what we have until a rookie can start but I dont believe that is the case at OLB.

  • LucasY59

    they need a lot of help and a Vet CB and a high rd Rookie could be what they need, Maxwell, does have the benefit of playing on a great D, but part of that great D is putting the best players they have out there and he is 1 of 11, a rookie is most likely going to have a hard transition so having a Vet also would be a good idea

  • Col. Angus

    Thanks. I would be on board with that. We have proven that outside of 1st round TEs we have not had any gems fall out of the pile.

  • Col. Angus

    I don’t think there is any plan to have a 1st rounder back up FAs. ???

  • Col. Angus

    If we lose Worilds and Harrison I would still consider him up to the 6 – 7 million range. Having him and JJ starting with Moats and TBD as depth/platoon..

  • blackandgoldBullion

    How soon people forget what a stud he’s been, just last year. If he can be had at a good price, heal yeah.

  • Louis Goetz

    If both of those LBs made it to the 53, JJ would not only be their back up, but would be behind Moats, to boot, until he shows he’s any better than he’s shown thus far.

  • steeltown

    I mostly agree, especially about drafting OLB and CB early, but, the problem that arises when bringing in a free agent OLB and basically giving that player the money you would have otherwise spent on Worilds is how do we know he’ll produce beyond what Worilds did and would… I guess that’s a risk you have to take, but it’s also the reason I think the Front Office might actually sign Worilds.

  • StrengthOfVictory

    Sean Weatherspoon missed 10 games in 2013 and the entire 2014 season after a very promising start in Atlanta. Can the Falcons afford to sign him long-term? Might his recent injuries mean the Steelers could at least make him an offer?

    And I know it’s not ideal to bring in aging linebackers, but the Steelers are in transition defensively, and Dwight Freeney will be a free agent. Worth kicking the tires and bringing him in?

  • Jon Crissinger

    I love me some Brandon Graham. Basically replaced Woodley at Michigan with the same body type but more quick twitch athleticism. He was touted as a Woodley clone and I thought in a 3-4 he could have been even better. He got started in a 4-3 though. I think he’d be an awesome pickup

  • Kevin Gobleck

    I’ve wanted Maxwell for awhile

  • dkoy85

    I definitely see your point, I’m just a little down on Worilds. Maybe if they ask him to do more rushing and less dropping into coverage we’ll see more sacks and pressure. Just a lot of money to spend on a guy who hasn’t produced.

  • LucasY59

    I am all for bringing him in, even if all he brings is some of that LOB mentality it will help the secondary

    He couldn’t make them any worse, the Steelers dont look like they will have much to spend so they can’t overpay him, If he is willing to sign for a descent amount (Seattle will probably be able to offer something similar to Pittsburgh so might be hard to get him to leave, and some other desperate team might pay him more also)

  • SteelHorseman

    I’m all about signing sheard, McPhee, or graham and letting woirlds walk, but let’s be honest, none of these guys are the answer at OLB. They are all just a temporary fix. We still need to draft someone

  • SteelHorseman

    In my opinion, Worilds is just a body. We could put a tackling dummy out there and it will produce as much

  • steeltown

    I have to admit, the numbers reflect that when Tuitt started playing more at LDE, Worilds really came alive. Tuitt didnt technically start till week 14 against the Bengals but the previous week against the Saints was the first game that Tuitt played 50% of the D snaps. Since week 13 Worilds piled up 25 of his 59 total tackles and 4 of his 7.5 sacks (in 5 games)

    I dont pretend to know what to do, but I really could see the FO signing Worilds, he’s not terrible and more importantly I dont know if we can afford someone that would actually be an upgrade…

  • Reno

    I think the question is who is more likely to start or make a significant impact in the first year. A 1st round OLB or CB? Given the Steelers history of developing secondary players at a slower rate I would prefer the Steelers go after a CB in free agency. Factor in Butler’s background as a LB’s coach the Steelers will probably get a 1st round OLB up to speed at a faster rate. Of course the market and the Steelers available cap space may determine the player of choice more than the position to fill of choice

  • SteelHorseman

    I just read something about grumbling in Seattle that they prefer his back-up to him. That’s not a good thing

  • steeltown

    You’re entitled to your opinion, but I disagree

  • LucasY59

    I think Worilds’ production will make it so they don’t have to spend too much money.

    I only want him to re-sign at a very cap and Steeler friendly amount, maybe put in some production incentives and low guaranteed $. draft a OLB (or 2?) and if the Rookie turns into something great they can let Worilds go (or keep him as depth?)

    If he wants more $ there are some FA options (that they should be able to get with what they can afford, dont overspend on any FA’s including their own)

  • dkoy85

    Those are interesting stats. I’m sure Butler and Tomlin know what they have in him and if his play was effected by poor DE play. Looking forward to see what they do. Regardless, they need more competition at both OLB and CB. This will be a looonnng offseason for me Ha!

  • SteelHorseman

    Well, I’m sure he’d manage a little better than the tackling dummy… He’s not good though. We know what we have with him: mediocrity. I’d be interested to see what our coaches could do with the others

  • steeltown

    One things for certain…they cant afford to not draft OLB early, regardless of what happens with Worilds

  • steeltown

    Actually, now that I think about it if you add the Matt Ryan sack that was taken away by a flag, he would have 5 sacks in the last 5 games

  • Rob Olzer

    I love Maxwell. But I think he will be out of the budget range. Sheard or McPhee would be great if we can’t keep worlids or moats. It will be interesting to see how much cap they have free.

  • StrengthOfVictory

    McPhee could be ONE of the answers. But I agree that the Steelers need to spend a high pick (at least one) on OLB in the draft.

  • Alan Felicia

    Not necessarily b/c Washington got rid of Haslett. Depends on who they hire as the new DC and if they will keep running a 3-4D. Coach Gruden came from a 4-3D in Cincy and Tampa.

  • Alan Felicia

    One OLB FA that will be available is Derrick Morgan from Tenn Titans. He’s from the Pittsburgh area, young (26), and just finished playing on Ray Horton’s 3-4D. Low production (average 6 sacks in last 3 years) but may blossom with the right team. If Worilds signs elsewhere, I wouldn’t be surprise Pittsburgh and/or Morgan engages in contract talks.

  • Alan Felicia

    LOL! Too funny!

  • Alan Felicia

    I see Worilds coming home to New Jersey area (where he is from) and sign with the Jets. NY has plenty of cap room (over $25M under the cap), they are 3-4D (when Rex was there) , and they need OLB. Worilds will certainly get close to the $9M he was getting this past season.

  • LucasY59

    Slay is a good CB (I thought highly of him coming out of college) so they might be willing to let Maxwell go, but whoever is starting is better (at the moment) they are looking long term and prefer to stick with a rookie contract instead of re-signing a guy who is looking for as much $ as he can get on the open market

    signing Maxwell should improve the talent at the CB position, but expecting him to be a Shut down or Pro Bowl CB is not likely to happen

  • LucasY59

    If the Jets want to pay him that much they can have him,

    I don’t think the production he has had up till now warrants any more than 5-6M/yr he is an average starting 3-4 OLB, if they want to pay him above avg price that is their fault

  • Alexander Sebastian Heath

    I like Maxwell best of all, not only he can be affordable, he is better than any draft prospects I like. Plus a proven commodity.

  • NinjaMountie

    If you get a quality OLB, who brings pressure consistently, you are by default going to make ANY secondary look better. I would prioritize OLB in FA for this reason.

  • NinjaMountie

    Graham was only in his 2nd year of playing a 34 OLB and pretty much matched Worilds production. He’s bigger, which I think they need. I’ve mentioned this guy before, I like him.

  • Alan Felicia

    I also think Arizona (especially if/when LeBeau joins their staff) and Tennessee will be interested in signing Worilds. Both are 3-4D and both are similar to Pittsburgh defensive philosophy.

  • jujudoublestuff

    I wanted the Steelers to draft Maxwell out of Clemson

  • Louis Goetz

    Six sacks a year isn’t bad production from a sub-par defense like Tennessee. The right system or coaching staff could propel him to the net level at a reasonable price tag. Plus, our O-Line coach might have some info for us on the guy. I also like the fact that he’s from Coatesville, which is where I was born.

  • Seymour Bottoms

    What about Brian Orakpo? Havent seen him discussed much and coming off another injury he could be a low risk high reward player. He will only want a short term deal and it wont cost much to get him and when healthy we know how good he can be.

  • Seymour Bottoms

    I have been talking up this guy for weeks now. He wont want much and will only command a short contract so he is definitely worth the risk.

  • Louis Goetz

    He had very similar production in 2013, when he registered eight sacks, seven of which were in the last half of the season.

  • LucasY59

    I think those are much better fits than the Jets.

    Like I said don’t try and win a bidding war for him, If he can get more $ good for him, if he stays for a reasonable price thats good also, if he leaves he is more than replaceable

  • Louis Goetz

    Plus, after giving him the transition tag last year, we should get a 3rd round supplemental pick for him if he goes somewhere else this year. I’m still voting for them to sign McPhee and someone like Brandon Graham or Derrick Morgan (as Alan Felecia suggested).

  • Reno

    I agree with the overall premise. I was thinking more in terms of immediate production from both positions and the Steelers aversion to take a CB in the first round. That plus the slow development of players like Lewis, Allen, and now Shamarko. And I can’t lie I keep thinking the Steelers are in need of a starting CB next year making an assumption Allen doesn’t bounce back. Lol. I’m sure the Steelers are probably thinking he and Gay will be the starters. They are still in need of good CB’s whether it’s a veteran or through the draft. But you are probably right since there is currently no starter at LOLB. I still would be happy with a good young FA player at either position.

  • Louis Goetz

    After singing a Franchise Tag and getting $11M last year he recorded only half a sack in seven games before getting hurt and sitting out the rest of the year. That’s three injury-laden seasons in a row and a lack of production when he was on the field. He’s got a lot in common with Woodley.

  • pittfan

    seems to me the best strategy would be to plug the gaping holes (CB/OLB)with proven FAs, then use the draft to shore up other weaknesses. banking on a rookie to pan out seems risky

  • Alan Felicia

    Yeah, although, he’s had torn his pectoral in 2012 and this past season (2014). If we compare him to Woodley, Orakpo is more of workout warrior. Woodley was being destroyed by fans b/c he had issues with hamstring, knee, and ankles from 2011 thru 2013. Just sayin.

  • Matt Manzo

    I think there’s only enough money for one good signing?

  • Matt Manzo

    I’d kick his tires!

  • Paddy

    I just don’t think they will sign many UFA this off season. Certainly no impact players. Mike Mitchell is about as high as they go

  • pittfan

    not sure if it’s one or two but you bring up a good point.
    lotta moving pieces, but 1 REALLY good pass rusher would make a big difference in a lot of ways

  • lol and since he only comes alive in the second half of seasons, we cut his contract $ in half. Sounds fair, right?

  • Solid point you bring up with the infusion of Tuitt. If they do end up retaining Worilds, I will probably assume they recognized the same thing. Still every bit as pumped about having Tuitt as I was on draft day. Maybe even more so now

  • Definitely valid. Todd Bowles ran the 3-4 at Arizona as well. And maybe AZs infatuation with Steeler guys rubbed off on him. After reading your comment it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see Worilds end up there, especially assuming they pay him more than what he’s worth.

  • Your comment is exactly why I’m more concerned with fixing our front seven/pass rush. If we dominate the line of scrimmage, our CBs start looking a lot better than they are.

  • Jay Jaber

    Danny Shelton in the first round

  • Yes I agree. prioritize OLB in FA and also in the draft. The secondary is just that, secondary.

  • I also like Maxwell. But if you put him in the secondary behind what we have now, he won’t make any difference. If they were to sign Maxwell, that would all but eliminate any chance of signing a quality OLB with the chance to make an impact. In that case, we’re going into the draft with not as much need for a corner and likely need two OLBs in the first three rounds. I suppose that is a possibility, I just don’t see the Steelers putting all their FA eggs in the CB basket.

  • Zurich1012

    This was a great article! I am a nerd when it comes to watching how the team is put together in the offseason even when the Steelers make some head scratcher moves. I will say in my 40 years as a Steelers fan, I have always preferred to watch our Defense be on the field. I love scoring points but with the Steelers its about Defense and being dominant and imposing a sense of fear and trepidation in other opponents. What we have had to endure over the last few years has been so gut wrenching to watch. This defense has got to be turned around and fast.

  • Richard Kim

    With the new NFL those days are gone.
    Can we up our Defense? Sure but the days of old presented in this article are far gone.
    It’s a Effin pansy skirt wearing league now…
    I wish I could stop watching but I just can’t!

  • Richard Kim

    Our only hope for another 2008 Defense is too ask Seattle for a trade that involves Chancelor and Thomas for Mitchell and Allen we’ll even throw in Troy!
    If they ask for the Shark the deal is off the table.

  • Matt Manzo

    That’s where I hope we spend the money. An OLB that could play now and be a little more productive than Worilds, would make a big difference.

  • Steel PAul

    The more I think about it, the more it seems like they’re going to need to sign one of each. A rookie alone isn’t enough to add to either squad.

    Guessing one of them will be a mid-level FA and one lower. I could see them going into the season with Moats at LOLB, a depth FA OLB and the 1st rd pick, along with JJ.

  • gdeuce

    what makes you think Sheard is any good? he was at his best as a 4-3 DE, and his sack totals have gotten worse each year

  • mokhkw

    If I was writing the article I would have left him off as well.

    Why?

    Because no Steeler should ever play for the Ravens & vice-versa.

    Lets keep this rivalry – the best in the NFL – full of nasty.

    Pains me to say that the Ravens are a tougher team than we are atm.

  • Z Vranic RMT

    It seems everyone is forgetting or doesn’t know that Mclendon is a free agent after this year. I say go after 1 of either McPhee, Sheard or Maxwell then draft Shelton to shore up our middle . Goldman would be intriguing. If the Steelers wanted to go with a 3-4 . 4-3 hybred. Goldman can play both the nose and tackle! 1 top free agent among those I listed and the Steelers would have the ability to go best defender in the first.

  • Alexander Sebastian Heath

    But thing is he’ll never be anything like Woodley. Just because both have same size and came from Michigan doesn’t mean they are just same product though. Brandon is a defensive end and you don’t want him to play in 3-4 especially when he didn’t even play effectively in Philly.

  • Nick Huffman

    Heres one for you guys, what about a guy like Jared Odrick from miami??? hes a swiss army knife he can play end and nt from time to time, would be better then cam thomas, i would love to take his 2 mil and put towards odrick

  • Josh Knepshield

    Newsflash: Odrick is going to receive a 5-7 Million dollar deal.

  • Josh Knepshield

    I think Maxwell is a product of the Seattle system.

  • Josh Knepshield

    Didn’t play effectively? He has been their best pass rusher this year.

  • Rob Olzer

    Its possible. But he could still be a good corner in spite of that. And he would be a big help here. But a lot of teams will want him. I expect he will get close to 3 or 4 mil a year. We can’t pay that.

  • Leon Mcnair

    Yeah OK They won’t do that wishful thinking

  • Leon Mcnair

    They need a CNN and OLB. Not NT wake up

  • Josh Knepshield

    You are lowballing him big time. He will receive anywhere from 5-7 million on his next deal. His combo of size and speed alone will draw that. If Cortez can get his deal based on limited playing time, then Maxwell will draw Keenan Lewis money at least. Even if I personally think he is just a by-product of a great defensive scheme.

  • Jon Crissinger

    I understand that, but he’s been a little underwhelming. He would be in the elephant position for us, not really a standup and cover linebacker. He played 3-4 on a limited basis this year and got 5.5 sacks playing less than 50% of the time with 4 forced fumbles. If he plays as a hybrid 4-3 end he would probably increase that number quite a bit

  • ATL96STEELER

    IDK how much 3-4 they will play, but I have to assume some. Enough to take a NT @ 22? I’m not sure. I like the bigger DT guys they have (McLendon/McCullers) realizing they don’t have a true 2 gap NT I might look later in the draft for a guy to coach up…FA…the back 4 needs a legit stud…I would go hard and heavy for Maxwell.

    Draft…they need edge pressure…assuming Fowler is off the board @ 22, I would look at a smallish DE types…Dupree, Orchard, or Hunter…Guys like Aldon Smith, Ezekial Ansah are proving when coupled with solid DTs, they are effective off the edge….then look at the S position in the 2nd rd.

  • Rob Olzer

    No he won’t go that high unless they win the super bowl and he makes some standout plays.

  • rayster

    I dunno, maybe it’s me, but does it seem that the Steelers have been drafting smaller, shorter defenders, that they take YEARS to develop and come up to playing speed, and are injury prone from some conditioning problem???
    Also, it seems that other teams have good success with their rookies in season one but the Steelers do not….comments….?

  • Alexander Sebastian Heath

    Dude which is more likely; finding a quality OLB via free agency or a cornerback? I’m going with the latter. Maxwell won’t be the elite but he does exactly what you want from a Steelers cornerback. Plus the draft will shrinks value of cornerbacks in the free agency (thankfully, a good thing for us) which leave me with hoping for a free agent cornerback and a pass rusher in draft. Eli Harold is becoming my second favorite, reminds me so much of Joey Porter.

  • westernsteel

    You can’t hope for too much from the Steelers in free agency, but getting one starter at either CB or OLB would be a big deal.

  • Louis Goetz

    I wouldn’t say his production got worse at all. In fact, I’d argue it pretty much stayed the same. In ’13 he started 13 games and registered 5.5 sacks (.4/start) and that was his first season as an OLB. In ’14 he started 5 games and registered two sacks (also .4/start). He’s behind Kruger (11 sacks this year) and Mingo (#6 overall pick last year) and finding playing time behind them isn’t an easy task. As a whole, the Browns defensive coaching took a big lid this year and I’d be more than happy if the Steelers were able to pick up a decent guy who fell through their cracks, like Sheard..

  • keneyeam

    Let’s take a good look at Brandon Flowers or Antonino Cromartie at cornerback then look at Leon Washington. Washington should be cheap and he could back up running back position and return kicks and punts!

  • Josh Knepshield

    No, he will get that regardless. 2 straight seasons being above average with his size and speed. There is no way its even possible he gets only 3-4 million a year. Its just not possible.

  • Rob Olzer

    Watch and see