Re: Next Year
I think one of Lefty/Batch should go but not both. If Batch retires, keep Lefty, if not cut Lefty and keep Batch. Either way draft a QB in rounds 5-7 or sign a UFA (not every backup QB has to be an early pick Kaepernick or Wilson, they were drafted early with the intention of being eventual starters)
Ideally a RB should be drafted in round 2 or 3 this year. Round 2 unless a great prospect that could've gone in the first is still there for us. If Mendenhall is resigned cheap as a backup I won't complain but no matter what the plan can't be to go into next season with him the starter, or anyone else on this roster. A new workhorse needs to be found ASAP, none of this committee bullshit.
Resign Plax, don't go anywhere near Wallace, and draft a tall, physical receiver somewhere late in the draft. Not much needs to be done at WR but AB and Sanders need to rebound and get their shit together.
IDK when Heath will be ready. He will obviously be missed. I think Pope and Paulson can man the fort until he returns. I don't think we need to draft anybody and somebody decent can probably be found in FA cheap who can also contribute in Heath's absence.
I don't think anything needs to be done with OL. The personnel is all there if they can stay healthy for once. If Starks was on a one year deal this year, resign him again. The man has earned the starting LT job until he either retires or really loses a step.
If the rumors Harrison is leaving I heard today are true, he will be missed, but I am excited for Jason Worilds and think he will be a more than adequate replacement. His coverage skills as a complete OLB may not be there yet but he displayed massive improvements to his pass-rush this season and arguably had a better season than Woodley. I don't think an OLB needs to be drafted early to replace Harrison until Worilds is given a full chance, but I won't be completely upset if one is.
At ILB obviously Timmons is a beast. Foote could stay another year or could go. If he does, we have no idea what we're getting with Spence. I have preached and preached for Te'o and am still holding out hope we make a Polamalu-esque trade up for him, but we probably won't. Alec Ogeltree could be the answer in the draft but he's not really in our draft position range. If Foote is gone his spot is definitely the biggest question mark if the first round pick isn't an ILB.
I think the DLine is fine. Hood may not be Aaron Smith but he's been a perfectly adequate DE and does not need to be replaced just yet. I fully trust Mclendon to take over for Casey, who should be cut. Ta'amu was kept through all his legal BS so at this point just keep him for good. Keisel is getting old and should have his role reduced next year with Heyward seeing ore snaps. Noone needs to be drafted except for maybe added depth.
We NEED to resign Keenan Lewis. I know Allen has looked great too recently but we've been trying to develop a #2 CB for 4 years now since Townsend left, and we finally have one. I'd trust Allen with the job if we fail to sign Lewis but I'm not ready to see Curtis Brown in the nickel yet.
Troy Polamalu is only 31. I know he's had injury problems lately but I'm sure as hell not ready to cut him yet. He and Clark should still be our safeties next year. We definitely need to start looking for their replacements in the draft though, an first or second round pick should be spent on one within the next two drafts.
Overall, the only immediate changes personnel-wise that need to be made are RB and maybe ILB. Ben needs to stop being a drama queen and work it out with Haley, whose offense I thought was very good before injuries completely ruined the unit. Hopefully LeBeau comes back. I've stated my thoughts on the Tomlin haters numerous times in other threads but he will have this team ready to go next year, just as he did after the 09 season, just as he did after the 07 season, and everyone needs to calm down.