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mesaSteeler
02-09-2010, 09:51 PM
http://www.observer-reporter.com/www/sidelines/index.html
Tuesday, February 09, 2010
Free agency look: The offensive line
As I do every offseason, Iíll take a look over the next few weeks at the Steelersí potential free agents and possible veteran replacements or upgrades.

Keep in mind that the Steelers have never been major players on the free agent market. So no matter how much you want them to go out and sign say, Terrell Owens, itís not going to happen.

This week, weíll take a look at the offensive line.

Steelers potential losses
Willie Colon, RT
Darnell Stapleton, G/C (restricted)

The Steelers, like many teams, will be watching the collective bargaining agreement negotiations closely.

If no new agreement is reached, Colon, along with a number of other players, will be restricted free agents rather than unrestricted.

And no other position may be affected by that like this group of offensive linemen.

The Steelers would like to have Colon back to man their right tackle position. Heís gotten better the more heís played and has turned into a good, but not great, player.

But can the Steelers do better by bringing in a free agent?

Certainly a free agent lineman would help this team a great deal. The Steelers have not done a great job in recent years drafting on the offensive line. They haven't taken one in the first two rounds of the draft since Kendall Simmons in 2002 and several of the later draft picks haven't worked out as well as they would like.

If the Steelers choose to go the free agent route, there are a number of intriguing possibilities, most of who will be restricted if there is no new collective bargaining agreement.

And that could be the rub.

For example, the Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints have three linemen, tackles Jammal Brown and Jermon Bushrod, and guard Jahri Evans, who are scheduled to reach free agency.

Brown, Bushrod and Evans will be restricted if there is no new collective bargaining agreement.

The problem for the Saints will be decided how to tender each of those players.

Brown, who will turn 29 next month, is the oldest of the trio, but might also be the most valuable. The former Oklahoma star is a natural left tackle with 58 career starts under his belt.

Bushrod, however, filled in admirably for Brown after his injury and, at 26, is three years younger.

Evans, meanwhile, was the teamís best run blocker from his right guard position.

And, as the Steelers know all too well, there is a heavy price that goes along with being a Super Bowl champion, making it unlikely that New Orleans will be able to keep all three.

Brown would certainly be an upgrade for the Steelers, but, even coming off an injury, his price tag will likely be out of the teamís range. Thatís especially true considering how much money the Steelers are paying Max Starks. They could sign Brown and move Starks back to right tackle Ė a move that would really solidify the teamís line Ė but would likely then have $12 to $14-million per season wrapped up in their offensive tackles.

Of the three, Bushrod, a Towson product, might be the best fit, if the Saints tender him with a low offer. Bushrod is a former fourth-round draft pick.

A number of other decent options are also available, but are also looking at the possibility of restricted free agency.

That group would include San Diego left Marcus McNeil, Minnesota right tackle Ryan Cook and New England guard Logan Mankins.

Of the unrestricted group, there are two players who are young enough to still have some upside who have not lived up to their billing with their current teams, St. Louisí Alex Barron and Green Bayís Daryn Colledge.

Barron, a former first-round draft pick, has been plagued by penalties playing left tackle for the Rams, particularly false starts. But perhaps a change of scenery and joining a winning program could bring out the best in him.

Colledge, meanwhile, is headed for unrestricted free agency, but the word out of Green Bay is that the former second-round draft pick wonít be tendered an offer.

posted by Dale Lolley at 9:58 PM 1 Comments Links to this post

Chidi29
02-09-2010, 10:05 PM
I don't think people understand the concept of being a restricted free agent.

It doesn't cost much to keep the player around and can be a heavy price to pry them away from another team. It'll take around a combined $7 million for the Saints to keep all of three lineman should they all get 1st/3rd tenders (Evans and Brown definitely will). That's chump change compared to what it'd cost if they were UFAs.

I read a stat that said of the 55 tendered RFAs last year, not one of them ended up going somewhere else.

Barron will probably be tendered for the fact St. Louis doesn't have much going for them on the line and I think I remember reading that he wasn't that bad at left tackle, not that we need one anyway.

If Colledge won't get tendered by the Packers and their woeful line, why should we go after them? Besides, he's a LG/C. Not a huge need for us. Only RG needs to be upgraded IMO.

All the "experts" talk about the horror of an uncapped year and how teams are going to go crazy but in reality, this is likely to be one of the quietest offseasons due to the fact there are so many RFAs.

Prok
02-10-2010, 10:17 AM
I don't think people understand the concept of being a restricted free agent.

It doesn't cost much to keep the player around and can be a heavy price to pry them away from another team. It'll take around a combined $7 million for the Saints to keep all of three lineman should they all get 1st/3rd tenders (Evans and Brown definitely will). That's chump change compared to what it'd cost if they were UFAs.

I read a stat that said of the 55 tendered RFAs last year, not one of them ended up going somewhere else.

Barron will probably be tendered for the fact St. Louis doesn't have much going for them on the line and I think I remember reading that he wasn't that bad at left tackle, not that we need one anyway.

If Colledge won't get tendered by the Packers and their woeful line, why should we go after them? Besides, he's a LG/C. Not a huge need for us. Only RG needs to be upgraded IMO.

All the "experts" talk about the horror of an uncapped year and how teams are going to go crazy but in reality, this is likely to be one of the quietest offseasons due to the fact there are so many RFAs.

Good post.

Being we have always been a quality over quantity player in FA I wouldn't mind seeing us pick up a decent RG or OT through FA. Then concentrating on CB/S/DL in first 3 rounds of draft. No particular order. After that try to find gems. But those first 3 rounds we have to address specific needs vs BPA at those positions imo. Just my personal preference i guess.

El-Gonzo Jackson
02-10-2010, 10:49 AM
I really dont see the Steelers spending any money in Free Agency on the O line. They already spent it last year by giving new 4-year contracts to Starks, Kemo and Hartwig. I think they will continue to try and build thru the draft and give Colon a qualifying offer to make him a RFA worth a 1st round pick if he leaves.

steelreserve
02-10-2010, 12:07 PM
I don't see much happening here. Colon is OK, and either way, they'll probably bring him back. If anything, I could see us bringing in someone to compete with Essex --who was a hell of a lot better than Stapleton, by the way -- or eventually replace Starks, who I see as average but WAY overpaid.

I don't buy the talk of moving Starks to RT -- I mean, every time we put him there, he ends up on the bench within a few weeks. I suspect that's because he sucks at RT.

El-Gonzo Jackson
02-10-2010, 12:11 PM
I don't see much happening here. Colon is OK, and either way, they'll probably bring him back. If anything, I could see us bringing in someone to compete with Essex --who was a hell of a lot better than Stapleton, by the way -- or eventually replace Starks, who I see as average but WAY overpaid.

I don't buy the talk of moving Starks to RT -- I mean, every time we put him there, he ends up on the bench within a few weeks. I suspect that's because he sucks at RT.

Urbik was drafted in the 3rd to compete at RT, but despite the emergence of Foster, I still think we are OK there and Urbik will develop. I do see us thin at OT, with only Starks, Colon, Essex, Hills who are OT's on the roster.

I will not be surprised to see an OT drafted or a vet signed off the scrap heap if he comes cheap. I still think the Steelers believe they have their guys on the roster and will look to Kugler to develop them.

steelreserve
02-10-2010, 01:14 PM
I will not be surprised to see an OT drafted or a vet signed off the scrap heap if he comes cheap. I still think the Steelers believe they have their guys on the roster and will look to Kugler to develop them.

That's pretty much my thinking as well. Unless they decide to write off Hills or Urbik early, and add someone they think might develop, I don't see any major action on the O-line front. It's not as desperate as in 2008, and I really think getting Stapleton out of there might have been the key that stabilized the whole situation. Which is also why I'd be surprised to see him back in any capacity, since he's also not the only backup center anymore.

MasterOfPuppets
02-10-2010, 02:10 PM
i think hills gets shown the door this year ,ala bruce davis. urbik not being able to earn a uni over undrafted foster certainly doesn't bode well for him.

El-Gonzo Jackson
02-10-2010, 02:36 PM
MOP, I half agree with you about Hills....but I keep thinking they give him the Trai Essex plan of letting him hang around for 4 years before ever having to contribute. Still pitiful considering they could have drafted a better lineman in the 4th instead.

BTW, nice Sig!! I'm putting you on ignore. :pin:

MasterOfPuppets
02-10-2010, 03:09 PM
MOP, I half agree with you about Hills....but I keep thinking they give him the Trai Essex plan of letting him hang around for 4 years before ever having to contribute. Still pitiful considering they could have drafted a better lineman in the 4th instead.

BTW, nice Sig!! I'm putting you on ignore. :pin:
well if they're planning on getting serious about upgrading then they have to free up roster spots..:noidea: who better to release then a guy who can't get a backup uni ?

Prok
02-10-2010, 04:33 PM
I really dont see the Steelers spending any money in Free Agency on the O line. They already spent it last year by giving new 4-year contracts to Starks, Kemo and Hartwig. I think they will continue to try and build thru the draft and give Colon a qualifying offer to make him a RFA worth a 1st round pick if he leaves.

I could totally see us going after a free agent G, T or C. My thinking is that we have lost some quality depth in recent seasons and haven't adequately replaced alot of em'. Mostly due to a Hills or Urbik type not really developing fast enough or not developing at all.

This off-season should be VERY interesting IMO. One of the less predictable off-season's as well.

I guess it all depends which way we go in the early rounds of the draft. If we invest the early pick in OL, then we prolly won't be persuing a FA there.

Don't get me wrong, this team does't need an overhaul. But we do need to upgrade a few positions.

I'd be willing to bet that Colbert and Tomlin have a plan for BOTH free agency and the draft.

steelreserve
02-11-2010, 11:23 AM
well if they're planning on getting serious about upgrading then they have to free up roster spots..:noidea: who better to release then a guy who can't get a backup uni ?

Matt Spaeth and Carey Davis.

Also Carter, maybe Townsend, and maybe whichever of Kirschke or Eason is diminishing the most.

MasterOfPuppets
02-11-2010, 12:52 PM
Matt Spaeth and Carey Davis.

Also Carter, maybe Townsend, and maybe whichever of Kirschke or Eason is diminishing the most.
i agree that 3 out 4 of those should be cut, but they'll be replaced by someone who plays that position. if they're going to add an olineman then an olineman will be cut. stapleton would have been the odd man out last year to make room for foster. logic dictates that the next most expendable guy would be the 3rd yr guy who hasn't been able to earn a uni.

steelreserve
02-11-2010, 03:18 PM
Hmmm ... I honestly think we ended this season with one too many CBs and one too many DEs, or at least we could've gotten by with one fewer of each. That could be one possibility.

Although I agree, if we don't reshuffle the roster slots, you're spot-on and Hills seems like the most likely to be shown the door, especially since Essex can also play tackle.

El-Gonzo Jackson
02-11-2010, 05:58 PM
if we don't reshuffle the roster slots, you're spot-on and Hills seems like the most likely to be shown the door, especially since Essex can also play tackle.

That is true, but lets just say the Steelers draft an OT (Bulaga, Williams, etc). Then I think we could still see a roster of :

Starks, Kemo, Hartwig, Essex, Colon ....with backups Bulaga, Foster, Legursky, Hills, Urbik. Yes, 10 O linemen is more than ususal, but if you consider this may be the final season of Essex and Colon as Steelers, they could keep Hills as future depth for 2011.

steelreserve
02-12-2010, 11:55 AM
That is true, but lets just say the Steelers draft an OT (Bulaga, Williams, etc). Then I think we could still see a roster of :

Starks, Kemo, Hartwig, Essex, Colon ....with backups Bulaga, Foster, Legursky, Hills, Urbik. Yes, 10 O linemen is more than ususal, but if you consider this may be the final season of Essex and Colon as Steelers, they could keep Hills as future depth for 2011.

True, we could do that depending on a) what we think the odds are of keeping Essex or Colon, and b) just how much potential we think Hills has. I honestly don't know the answer to either of those.

But while I don't think it would be unusual to keep 10 linemen -- I mean, we've been keeping one more than normal at other positions, so it would just mean a little musical chairs -- I would find it odd if we kept five guys who basically have a rookie experience level. Can't rule it out, but if we bring in another guy to develop, I would bet it means we don't think one of our other guys is going to work out, and that means Urbik or Hills, since Legursky and Foster we apparently trust.