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Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Now what?

Now that the Steelers have taken care of their biggest issue in free agency, first slapping the transition tag on linebacker Jason Worilds and then getting him to sign it, thus assuring he won't leave as a free agent.

Next up with Worilds is getting him to agree to a contract extension that will lower his 2014 cap hit - currently set at $9.75 million thanks to the transition tag.

That will be critical for the Steelers, who now find themselves some $15 million over the cap after tagging Worlds.

Prior to tagging Worilds, the Steelers were around $6 million over the $133 million cap, a sum that could have been made up in one fell swoop by releasing Levi Brown and his bloated $6.2 million salary.

Now, the Steelers will have to get a little more creative, particularly if they wish to sign any of their own potential free agents before they hit the open market next Tuesday.

With Worilds out of the picture, who will they target?

Tops on my list would be wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery, who led the team with 10 TD catches in 2013, and two defensive ends, Brett Keisel and Al Woods.

Woods might be a guy who jumps out among those three. After all, he's been just a spot player over the past two years after hanging around on the practice squad.

But he showed enough flexibility last season at both end and nose tackle for him to be very valuable to the Steelers.

With Emmanuel Sanders likely to leave as a free agent, Cotchery would give the team a stable veteran presence at wideout, while the same could be said of Keisel at defensive end, where Ziggy Hood is also a free agent.

After those three, offensive lineman Guy Whimper would be next on my list, something I would never have envisioned typing last August. But Whimper showed enough as a swing man in 2013 to merit coming back again on a veteran minimum deal.

I would also try to bring back LaRod Stephens-Howling and Fernando Velasco, two guys who could be relatively easy re-signings given that both ended the 2013 season on IR.

Finally, I'd bring back Michael Palmer for tight end depth. Palmer showed me enough last season as a blocker and special teams performer that he's worth keeping around to push David Paulsen for the No. 3 tight end spot.


Anonymous said...

Here is the link to the tool being Kevin Colbert and Omar Khan. Pretty fun!!

Mrs. Isaac Redman

Patrick said...

you wouldn't sign Dwyer over LSH?

Kind of interesting that the Steelers could be drafting RB's a year after drafting Bell in the 2nd. They need a bunch to bring into camp.

adamg said...

Velasco is hurt and won't be ready until after the season begins, nor does he want to play G which is why he was cut by TN. Whimper surprised, but Munchak should be able to develop Adams, Gilbert and Beachum to the point one of them will be able to fill the "jack-of-all-trades" role on game days. I wouldn't mind seeing Wallace return. He played well esp given he was a first time starter. He's also willing to play G unlike Velasco.

I think Kiesel's fate depends on what happens with Hood and at NT. If they keep Hood or if they get a NT or both, I think Kiesel is gone. Hood, McLendon and Heyward can rotate at DE. Woods was a back up on an 8-8 team. Nuff said.

Presumably D Johnson will return at TE, so no need for Palmer assuming Spaeth also returns.

If Cotchery will accept vet minimum, he could return, but if it's true Moye and J Brown were working out with BR in Calif, then he'll have a comfort level with them that could minimize the desire to retain Cotchery.

marc said...

I agree with all except cotchery. if they can bring him back at a decent price, they should do so regardless of any comfort level with moye/brown. he's a quality player, appears to be a strong veteran presence on the team, and the WR corp lacks experience assuming sanders leaves.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Dale. Some names on there I wouldn't have imagined. Looking forward to the next few weeks heading into the draft. This is when we as Steelers fans have to trust the organization to be what it has been and get better that what it has been in terms of the talent level. This will be a much more athletic team after the draft. Also just a note - I hope Ike chooses to stay. Steeler through and through. Always admired his work on the field and in the offseason. Never understood why he could not catch, but loved him as a player.

Bill in DC said...

I think Troy and Ike will help make the cap work. There is a history of loyalty between them and the Rooneys and between both players and LeBeau. I don't doubt they have good relationships with Tomlin as well but these are two of the few players that have been here longer.

I believe LeBeau when asked about retiring said he didn't want to quit on this defense. My gut says Troy and Ike may feel the same way.

NineFingers said...

Any chance that Plaxico figures into the Steelers plans for 2014?

Anonymous said...

I just keep wondering why Levi Brown hasn't been cut already. Free up the space and let him dip into FA. The delay is odd to me. People have been writing about it and assuming that it's inevitable since our season ended.

Eric T said...

They do not have to be under the cap until Tuesday, which when Levi Brown will be officially released.

Looks like Will Allen was resigned and Heath's extension is official, cutting ~$3 million off his cap number.

Dale Lolley said...

I like Dwyer. But they like Stephens-Howling better, assuming he's healthy.

I think Dwyer could be back as well, but I'd just as soon draft another guy late and let him compete. It's the cheaper option on a team that will be looking to save a little.

Velasco has played guard in his career, Adam. And he expects to be ready to go by mini-camp, though training camp is the more likely option. Wallace is too light, in my opinion to play guard.

I don't see Hood coming back unless it's at the veteran minimum. And I think somebody will give him more than that to shift to a 4-3 DT.

Polamalu has also extended his deal, in addition to Heath. I'll have more on that later.

adamg said...

Dale, yes, Velasco has played G, but he didn't want to move to G to make way for his replacement at C. If really wanted to be a G, he'd still be in TN.
Munchak is the guy who ultimately cut him, too.

Tomlin likes guys who embrace "position flexibility", not resist it.

Wallace is a better option, imho.

Anonymous said...

adamg, i disagree with your position on velasco. I don't know the ins and outs of why he's not with TN anymore but it sounds like you worked in their front office at the time he was cut and also know an awful lot about his rehab timeline.

My evaluations from watching the games this past year, Velasco is a hell of a player and i'd love to have him back as a backup C or G. Nothing about Wallace stood out much. I'd gladly take Velasco assuming he's healthy. He's got zone blocking experience and a history with Munch. He can help teach the other guys or translate terminology.

Anonymous said...

Foote, Levi Brown and Curtis Brown cut. With an Ike paycut, a Ben extension, maybe an Antonio Brown restructure, Colbert might not have been whistlin dixie about keeping both Woodley and Worilds. Free agent ILB on the horizon?

adamg said...

Anon 3:10, don't know anything about Velasco except what I read about why he was released by TN - that he was let go because TN had another C they wanted to start and he didn't want to move to G to accomodate that. Colbert was quoted when Mendenhall tore his ACL that he never counts on a player with that injury playing effectively for a year. You do the math from when Velasco was hurt. No one is likely to give much for Velasco because of the ACL injury. He'll likely be out there for awhile. There's no rush to bring him back.

I think he did a great job, too, and the Steelers were lucky he was available when Pouncey went down.

Thought Wallace did a fantastic job since he'd never started a game and was new to Pgh's offense. I was more impressed with that than with a vet like Velasco stepping in and doing well.