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Old 02-24-2010, 07:14 PM   #1
mesaSteeler
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Default Looking at free agent linebackers, defensive linemen

http://www.observer-reporter.com/www...nes/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

Last edited by mesaSteeler; 02-24-2010 at 07:39 PM.
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Old 02-24-2010, 07:31 PM   #2
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Default Re: Looking at free agent linebackers, defensive linemen

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.
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Old 02-24-2010, 08:27 PM   #3
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Default Re: Looking at free agent linebackers, defensive linemen

Quote:
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...
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Old 02-24-2010, 08:41 PM   #4
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Default Re: Looking at free agent linebackers, defensive linemen

Larry Foote.... get real....Need to get younger and faster
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Old 02-24-2010, 08:50 PM   #5
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Default Re: Looking at free agent linebackers, defensive linemen

Yeah, I would not be in favor of bringing Larry Foote back. The defense is aging enough as it is.
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Old 02-24-2010, 08:54 PM   #6
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Default Re: Looking at free agent linebackers, defensive linemen

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Larry Foote.... get real....Need to get younger and faster
Agree 100%
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Old 02-24-2010, 08:55 PM   #7
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Default Re: Looking at free agent linebackers, defensive linemen

Apparently I stuck my Foote in my mouth.

I guess not everyone thinks old people rock.
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Old 02-24-2010, 08:57 PM   #8
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Default Re: Looking at free agent linebackers, defensive linemen

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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!
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Old 02-25-2010, 01:13 AM   #9
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Default Re: Looking at free agent linebackers, defensive linemen

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.
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Old 02-25-2010, 06:28 AM   #10
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Default Re: Looking at free agent linebackers, defensive linemen

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Originally Posted by GBMelBlount View Post
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.
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