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mesaSteeler
02-24-2010, 07:14 PM
http://www.observer-reporter.com/www/sidelines/index.html
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
by F. Dale Lolley, the Observer-Reporter's veteran Steelers beat reporter, provides an inside view for Pittsburgh and the rest of the National Football League.

Looking at free agent linebackers, defensive linemen

As I do every offseason, I’ll take a look over the next few weeks at the Steelers’ 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, it’s not going to happen.

This week, we’ll take a look at the defensive linemen and linebackers.

Steelers potential losses
Casey Hampton, NT
Travis Kirschke, DE
Rocky Boiman, LB

The Steelers are going to place the franchise tag on Hampton to keep the 33-year-old nose tackle around for at least one more year while they work a new guy - likely a draft pick - into the rotation.

They’ve also got steady backup Chris Hoke to hold down the fort at that position.

But if Kirschke decides to hang up his pads - which is likely at this point - it leaves a bit of a hole in on the roster.

Sure, the Steelers would like to get younger on the defensive line and Ziggy Hood will probably be the top backup in 2010, but as they found out in 2009 when Aaron Smith was lost for the season, depth on the defensive line is critical.

Promising youngster Sonny Harris is also waiting in the wings, as is Nick Eason, but the team may want to hedge its bets against Harris continuing to improve and/or bringing in a veteran to challenge Eason.

At linebacker, it’s no secret that James Farrior has lost a step and the Steelers could be looking for a possible replacement in the draft or through free agency.

Boiman was signed to help improve the special teams play and could return for the veteran minimum.

So who might the Steelers look at on the free agent market?

On the defensive line, I like New England’s Jarvis Green and Buffalo’s Ryan Denney.

The 31-year-old Green has plenty of experience playing in a 3-4 defense and at 6-3, 285 pounds, would be a nice addition to the rotation the team likes to use with its defensive line.

Denney is a player the Steelers liked coming out of BYU in 2002. In fact, the BYU connection could come into play. Both Hoke and Brett Keisel played with Denney at BYU and could possibly help talk the veteran into coming to Pittsburgh as a backup with the hopes of joining a winner.

At 6-7, 265 pounds, the 32-year-old Denney is a little light to play in the 3-4, but with his frame, adding a little bulk shouldn’t be a problem.

At linebacker, Keyaron Fox will likely get a shot at spelling Farrior, while the Steelers could also look to the draft for a future replacement.

But if the Steelers are thinking about looking to the free agent market for Farrior, Chicago’s Pisa Tinoisamoa could fit the bill. Like Farrior, Tinoisamoa is an undersized outside linebacker who could transition well to the inside, where his coverage skills would serve the Steelers well.

The 6-1, 230-pound 29-year-old has seven career interceptions and 10 career sacks but is coming off an injury-shortened season.

If the Steelers are looking for more of a thumper in the middle to pair with Lawrence Timmons, San Francisco’s Matt Wilhelm, 29, could fit the bill. Though he played mainly on special teams for the 49ers in 2009, making 18 tackles, Wilhelm had 97 tackles with three interceptions and a sack in 2007 as a starter for San Diego.

There could also be the possibility of a blast from the past rejoining the team. Larry Foote asked for and received his release from the Steelers in 2009 when it became apparent he was going to be replaced by Timmons. But Foote could return and slide into his old role in a three-man rotation with Farrior and Timmons after spending a season in Detroit.

posted by Dale Lolley at 6:17 PM 0 Comments Links to this post

Northside Jonny
02-24-2010, 07:31 PM
I think your DL free agents are a little too old and this is a team that is in the midst of trying to get younger.

GBMelBlount
02-24-2010, 08:27 PM
There could also be the possibility of a blast from the past rejoining the team. Larry Foote asked for and received his release from the Steelers in 2009 when it became apparent he was going to be replaced by Timmons. But Foote could return and slide into his old role in a three-man rotation with Farrior and Timmons after spending a season in Detroit.

I really like Foote. Would love to see him back in Black & Gold...

steeltheone
02-24-2010, 08:41 PM
Larry Foote.... get real....Need to get younger and faster

M.C. Smith
02-24-2010, 08:50 PM
Yeah, I would not be in favor of bringing Larry Foote back. The defense is aging enough as it is.

Northside Jonny
02-24-2010, 08:54 PM
Larry Foote.... get real....Need to get younger and faster

Agree 100%

GBMelBlount
02-24-2010, 08:55 PM
Apparently I stuck my Foote in my mouth.

I guess not everyone thinks old people rock.

Northside Jonny
02-24-2010, 08:57 PM
Apparently I stuck my Foote in my mouth.

Apparently not everyone thinks old people rock.

Not in todays NFL old man. LOL Its all about the young steeds!

steelreserve
02-25-2010, 01:13 AM
I really do not see us bringing in a defensive lineman. We were basically carrying one more than we needed last year, and we'll keep everyone but Kirschke or Eason, depending. Harris will take his place as a backup, which is really all he needs to be to fill their shoes. That was a real steal for us, actually.

I don't think we sign a free agent in case Farrior can't do it. Fox is fine as a backup ILB. More likely we draft a guy to take over that spot eventually. But we DO need a NT and an ILB for the future if we want to keep a 3-4. No, I would not be surprised if we took a LB at #1 or #2 this year.

lionslicer
02-25-2010, 06:28 AM
Apparently I stuck my Foote in my mouth.

I guess not everyone thinks old people rock.

People always worried about the next year, and even if a team gets old people to win a superbowl one season, the next season they are all old and/or retire and they are left with nothing. Like the Patriots, who always carries old players on their defense. All those guys retired, or get injured, and they haven't had that shut down defense they had 2003-2007.

solardave
02-27-2010, 01:42 PM
Apparently I stuck my Foote in my mouth.

I guess not everyone thinks old people rock.

Being old myself I think old people rock but I couldn't play anymore either. I like Foote but we don't bring players back even if we wanted it the FO office just doesn't do it. Plus I agree we need young tough LBs.

solardave
02-27-2010, 01:44 PM
People always worried about the next year, and even if a team gets old people to win a superbowl one season, the next season they are all old and/or retire and they are left with nothing. Like the Patriots, who always carries old players on their defense. All those guys retired, or get injured, and they haven't had that shut down defense they had 2003-2007.

Their defense wasn't shut down! They were better than average.

Psyychoward86
02-27-2010, 02:04 PM
This guy is injured every year. Plus he played for the Rams

what is with you guys and degrading people for playing for crappy teams

that has zero relevance.

Another related thing that bothers me: When people degrade a player for being released by a crappy team. That doesnt mean squat about how good they really are.