The free agent season begins in just a little over a week and it’s that time of year when the black and gold must make decisions on their unrestricted free agents. They need to scour through their list of players and determine if any of the guys are worth keeping and at what cost. The amount of players the Steelers could lose is long but the amount they probably want to keep is very limited.
Here’s a look at each of the unrestricted free agents along with a few notes on what Kevin Colbert and company should do and what I think will happen.
Steve McLendon – Defensive Tackle – McLendon has some value and is a guy that can play a role on this team. If he can be brought back on a 2 year deal and groom the next guy, who I anticipate will be drafted this year, he’d be worth spending a little bit of money on. I expect that McLendon will be back on a 2 year deal.
Cam Thomas – Defensive End – Thomas didn’t really add much to the Steelers defense over the past couple of season and he won’t add anything moving forward. They shouldn’t sign him and I don’t expect them to do so.
Ramon Foster – Left Guard – Foster is a quality lineman and has helped solidify a line that used to have so many problems. The Steelers should try to bring him back and I anticipate they’ll give it a solid effort to do so. My expectation is Foster will re sign with the black and gold on a four year deal.
Bruce Gradkowski – Quarterback – I actually think Gradkowski is a decent backup. However, if the team feels like Landry Jones is truly the number two guy now, there is no point to bring back Gradkowski.
Gradkowski has been in the system for three years and may be worth bringing back for another year or two but I anticipate he’ll be moving on.
Antwon Blake – Cornerback – Blake was statistically one of the worst corners in football. The Steelers should not bring him back but something tells me they are going to sign him for another couple of seasons. I can’t stress enough how bad of a move that would be if it were to happen.
Robert Golden – Safety – He’s not worth bringing back and he won’t be back.
Will Johnson – Fullback – He’s a good player and I’d like to see him back in black and gold. He can help protect Ben in the passing game and I think he’ll be back on a two year deal.
William Gay – Cornerback – Gay had a pretty decent year and was surely the best corner the Steelers had this past season. That said, he was part of a pretty poor secondary, one that needs revamped completely. It’s not going to make me lose sleep if Gay is allowed to walk but I think he will be brought back by the Steelers on a four year deal. They just can’t afford to let all their corners go in one off season and he’s the one guy worth keeping (best of the worst)
Greg Warren – Long Snapper – He’s good at what he does but I’m indifferent on what happens here and I think he’ll be moving on.
Will Allen – Safety – Allen has seen better years. I think it’s time the team moves on from him and from all accounts, that’s what is going to happen.
Mike Vick – Quarterback – I think Vick is a perfect guy to bring back. He’s a good number two or three guy and I’d much rather have him than Gradkowski. That said, I think Landry Jones is the number two guy and a quarterback to be drafted this year will be the third. Vick has played his last down in the NFL.
Mike Adams – Right Tackle- He never lived up to the talent, he has to go and he will.
Clifton Geathers – Defensive End – Gone
Darrius Heyward Bey – Wide Receiver – He has the speed and some talent and actually made some big catches this year for the Steelers. If they chose to bring him back for one year; I’d be ok with it, however I think he’s moving on.
David Nelson – Wide Receiver – Gone.
Bryon Stingly – Right Tackle – Who? Gone.
Doug Legursky – Center – I’ve read some folks giving Legursky grief for his play in 2015. I think he covered for Maurkice Pouncey admirably and I absolutely would bring him back on a two year deal. I fully anticipate he’ll be signed for just that.
Jordan Todman – Running Back – I like Todman. He’s fast, he showed some flashes of talent in the playoffs and I think he holds value. I think the team should keep him but I don’t expect them to do so.
Sean Spence – Inside Linebacker – The oft injured Spence has talent and he showed flashes of it this past season but I wouldn’t spend any more time trying to develop him. It’s time to move on. That said, I think the black and gold are going to bring him back.
Brandon Boykin – Cornerback – I think Boykin has some upside and I thought he should have played more in 2015. For whatever reason, he didn’t. He has said he’s open to coming back and I believe he should be brought back but my gut tells me the black and gold will move on.
Kelvin Beachum – Tackle – He is a must sign, hands down. He needs to be brought back to protect Big Ben. The Steelers will try to sign him and Beachum would probably like to be back but the money he’s going to get offered elsewhere will take him away.
Many things can happen in the off season, some of these guys will be back, others won’t. The Steelers will also look at signing some free agents from other teams to fill in the secondary and other holes. Time will tell and we’ll all be watching closely.
Mike Pelaia hosts the website Steel Nation Association http://www.steelnationassociation.com– Covering the Steelers and helping Children’s Hospital All Day Everyday. You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.