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mesaSteeler
03-01-2010, 07:46 PM
http://www.observer-reporter.com/www/sidelines/index.html
Monday, March 01, 2010
Free agency look: DBs
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.

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 as we head into the eve of free agency, we’ll take a look at the defensive backs.

Steelers potential losses
William Gay, CB, restricted
Deshea Townsend, CB, unrestricted
Tyrone Carter, S, unrestricted
Ryan Clark, S, unrestricted

If there is any position that will undergo major changes for the Steelers in 2010, it will be the defensive backs.

Few will argue that this was not a weak point for the team in 2009 and with four free agents - including three unrestricted free agents – it could see a great deal of turnover.

In his first season as a full-time starter, William Gay was exposed as a liability in pass coverage. Gay lacks deep speed and because of that, he must give more cushion. He also struggled at times with his tackling in 2009, eventually losing his starting job to Townsend.

But the Steelers will likely tender him and give him another shot at winning the starting job back in 2010.

Townsend, on the other hand, won’t be back unless he finds no takers in free agency. The 34-year-old still sees himself as starting material, even if the Steelers do not. They like what Townsend brings to the table, but durability questions will always be there. In fact, the team kept Keiwan Ratliff for most of the season because it was worried Townsend would break down again in 2009.

Veteran safety Tyrone Carter has also probably played his last game for the Steelers. A nice bit player, Carter’s lack of size and speed is exposed when he has to play regularly. The Steelers can do better with their backup safety position.

Clark, the team’s starting free safety, is also unrestricted and the team would love to bring him back, but won’t break the bank to do so. Though Clark is a heady player and a big hitter, he’s not adept at producing takeaways, something you’d like of your free safety. He does, however, have a nice rapport with Troy Polamalu and the two have an innate sense of where each will be. That cannot be overlooked.

If Townsend and Carter leave via free agency, the Steelers will likely be looking to sign at least one and possibly two veterans to throw into the mix with some of their younger players at those positions.

Houston cornerback Dunta Robinson is considered the top player available at that position, but the former top-10 draft pick’s production – 13 career interceptions, six of which came as a rookie – hasn’t matched what he’ll likely be asking for on the open market.

More affordable options would include New England’s Leigh Bodden, Seattle’s Ken Lucas and Detroit’s Anthony Henry.

At 28, Bodden is the youngest of that trio and is coming off a season in which he made 14 starts with the Patriots, picking off five passes. But three of those interceptions came in one game against Jets’ rookie Mark Sanchez. Still, his five picks were four more than the Steelers’ corners had in 2009.

Lucas, 31, could probably be had for a good deal less than Bodden and still has something left as he showed with the Seahawks in 2009, playing in all 16 games and making six starts. Lucas has 25 career interceptions, including one last season.

At 33, Henry is the oldest of this group of corners, but also has the best hands. The 6-1, 207-pounder saw action in 14 games in 2009 and like Lucas, made six starts. He recorded 46 tackles and two interceptions, giving him 31 in his career.

At safety, the Steelers could throw caution to the wind if they don’t feel negotiations with Clark will prove meaningful and make a run at New Orleans’ Darren Sharper.

Though 34, Sharper is one of the best ball hawks of all-time as evidenced by his 63 career interceptions. There is no doubt he could probably coax at least three more seasons out of himself. The Steelers also have a bargaining chip no other team does when it comes to negotiations with Sharper. He was a teammate of head coach Mike Tomlin at William & Mary and the two remain friends.

If the Steelers are looking for someone who would be a little cheaper but also add some experienced depth, they could go after another player with ties to Tomlin. Tampa Bay’s Will Allen is just 27 and owns 26 career starts at free safety for the Bucs, including 16 games in 2006 when Tomlin was his defensive backs coach. Allen was also first alternate as the NFC’s special teams Pro Bowl representative in 2009, something that would be a welcome addition for the Steelers.

Allen would be a nice replacement for Carter.

supa_fly_steeler
03-01-2010, 07:47 PM
Anthony Henry is awful.

Psyychoward86
03-01-2010, 08:22 PM
Sean Jones (plays FS and SS) is the best option imo

supa_fly_steeler
03-01-2010, 08:26 PM
Sean Jones (plays FS and SS) is the best option imo

He would be a good backup but hmmmmmmm. He had some coverage problems this year

Prok
03-01-2010, 10:13 PM
Man, slim pickin's this year. Just our luck....

I'd hope we sign the guy who fits our system best but hope he can actually play some man coverage. lol

Northside Jonny
03-02-2010, 01:49 AM
Sean Jones (plays FS and SS) is the best option imo

Same guy I've been talking about. Funny he is not even mentioned.

steelreserve
03-02-2010, 11:38 AM
Gay has a bad year and Troy gets hurt and everybody panics.

If Gay just isn't going to cut it, we've got two other guys already on the roster who we can try out, and if Troy doesn't get hurt, we'll be in immensely better shape.

Basically, we're looking for a backup safety if we think Mundy isn't good enough. Yawn.

pete74
03-02-2010, 12:54 PM
if mundy cant handle we need a starter. who will replace clark if we dont sign him?

supa_fly_steeler
03-02-2010, 12:56 PM
Gay has a bad year and Troy gets hurt and everybody panics.

If Gay just isn't going to cut it, we've got two other guys already on the roster who we can try out, and if Troy doesn't get hurt, we'll be in immensely better shape.

Basically, we're looking for a backup safety if we think Mundy isn't good enough. Yawn.

What if troy gets injured next year it becomes a problem again. Since last season he hasnt played every game apart from 2008 was 2005...

2007 he also got injured.

El-Gonzo Jackson
03-02-2010, 01:20 PM
Gay has a bad year and Troy gets hurt and everybody panics.

If Gay just isn't going to cut it, we've got two other guys already on the roster who we can try out, and if Troy doesn't get hurt, we'll be in immensely better shape.

Basically, we're looking for a backup safety if we think Mundy isn't good enough. Yawn.

Close, but I think we are looking for a starting FS if Clark cant be signed. I really dont want Carter back. Can find a backup SS in the draft this year on day 3.

steelreserve
03-02-2010, 01:52 PM
What if troy gets injured next year it becomes a problem again. Since last season he hasnt played every game apart from 2008 was 2005...

2007 he also got injured.

If Troy gets hurt again, it's going to be a problem no matter what. You can't really base your offseason planning on the assumption that the biggest star on your defense is always going to be hurt -- at some point, you have to expect that most of the players you're paying to be starters are going to play most of your games. That's really what we need in order to be successful anyway, and it's a big reason why a lot of the teams that are sitting at 12-4 and contending for a title at the end of the year are the teams that were lucky in terms of injuries.

I don't think it's realistic to expect starter-quality backups at every position, especially at the expense of other positions that need replenishment. Troy is going to have to play for the secondary to be great, and there's not really any getting around that.


Close, but I think we are looking for a starting FS if Clark cant be signed. I really dont want Carter back. Can find a backup SS in the draft this year on day 3.

I'm basing everything on the assumption that we do re-sign Clark, because if we don't, the other options are not that attractive. I do like Jones from the Eagles, but not as much as Clark. I definitely want Carter gone as well. But even so, we may or may not need a new guy in the draft. Would'nt be opposed to it, but don't think it's a pressing need. A few ways I could see this playing out without Carter OR a rookie at S:

SS - Troy
FS - Clark
S - Jones/Allen
S - Mundy

SS - Troy
FS - Clark
S - Mundy
S - Townsend

SS - Troy
FS - Jones
S - Mundy
S - Townsend

El-Gonzo Jackson
03-02-2010, 02:05 PM
I am somehow hoping that we can sign Clark, then let Carter walk, but bring in a guy like Barry Church from Toledo to backup at SS, while Mundy is the backup at FS. The kid can tackle, and considering that Troy is getting older and often injured, I would like to see a young SS brought in.

LLT was pimping him early last year and he's had a great college career.

pete74
03-02-2010, 02:19 PM
if we dont sign clark by friday he is gone. were not going to get in a bidding war that will cost us 5+mil a year for him. his agent knows that a desperate team will sign him for more then we will and it seems like thats why he wants him to hit the open market. if thats the case we either need a rookie ready to start or we have to pick up another saftey. i want clark back but i would definatly bet against that happening

xbroughneck
03-02-2010, 02:22 PM
Close, but I think we are looking for a starting FS if Clark cant be signed. I really dont want Carter back. Can find a backup SS in the draft this year on day 3.

Wait. A day 3 safety is going to be as good as Tyrone Carter (who I think is below average)?

Again, you guys are trying to put a bandage on a position that requires a steel cover. This is a league where teams are starting to throw the ball more. 3 wide out sets are more common. Tight ends are bigger threats to pass catch.

We have ONE good secondary player right now in Troy, and one slightly above average one in Taylor. WHAT ELSE WE GOT BACK THERE?

It's time to upgrade the secondary with a quality player and the only way the Steelers are going to do it will be through the draft.

Does anyone expect the Steelers to have a HIGHER draft pick or the potential to get a better safety or corner NEXT year? I don't.

jollyrob68
03-02-2010, 02:22 PM
Go for Will Allen or try to get Kerry Rhodes from the JETS.

xbroughneck
03-02-2010, 02:26 PM
Why not have Troy move to Free Safety? He already roams and gets picks like he's a free safety, and it's arguable he's not the fastest guy in our secondary (ike is fast too).

You guys may not like Taylor Mays, but I think he'd be a great strong safety to complement Troy if they were to convert Troy to Free Safety. I also think it'd extend Troys career and lessen the chance of him getting dinged up.

+NuBbS+
03-02-2010, 02:30 PM
im very intrigued by taylor mays after watching him in the combine today. however, we all know that troy is not moving from the SS position anytime soon. So we need to aim for a good FS in the draft or free agency since it is looking like clark will not be retained this year. Earl Thomas definitely has the ball hawking skills i like. I do love Taylor Mays physical attributes. so who knows?? besides the steelers might go another way...lol

pete74
03-02-2010, 02:36 PM
Why not have Troy move to Free Safety? He already roams and gets picks like he's a free safety, and it's arguable he's not the fastest guy in our secondary (ike is fast too).

You guys may not like Taylor Mays, but I think he'd be a great strong safety to complement Troy if they were to convert Troy to Free Safety. I also think it'd extend Troys career and lessen the chance of him getting dinged up.

i woul love troy at FS and taylor mays at SS. like you said, he probably wouldnt get as banged up

supa_fly_steeler
03-02-2010, 03:07 PM
WE NEED BALLHAWKERS

Please no mays

xbroughneck
03-02-2010, 04:31 PM
Taylor Mays can cover the Ben Gates of the world. I wouldn't mind him on the team. Move Troy to FS.

Northside Jonny
03-02-2010, 04:43 PM
Nate Allen anyone?