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NFL Pittsburgh Steelers

Pittsburgh Steelers: Top 5 Most Valuable New Additions in 2013

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Top 5 Most Valuable New Additions in 2013

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In the past, the Pittsburgh Steelers found it difficult to make a big splash during the offseason in free agency, and this offseason has been no different. The Steelers were once again faced with the dilemma of being over the salary cap. As usual, the organization cut ties with key veteran players and restructured contracts of current players just to make ends meet.

Not only did Pittsburgh face the possibility of missing the league’s deadline to get under the cap, they also had to find a way to get enough money to sign their potential draft picks.

Regardless of the obstacle, Pittsburgh not only found a way to get under the cap and ink deals with the nine rookies they drafted, but also managed to sign some reliable veterans who can make an immediate impact on the 2013 season in the process.

These new additions to the Steelers will add depth, experience and versatility to numerous positions, and will hopefully help improve the team’s disappointing 8-8 record from last season.

Most of the Steelers’ important free-agent signings were on the offensive side of the ball, and some of the signings were familiar faces returning to the Steel City. Chances are that none of these players will crack the starting lineup come opening day. However, their contributions to the team will be essential to the success of Pittsburgh and their chances of reclaiming the AFC North.

There wasn’t much to choose from, but I did rank the Steelers’ top five new veteran additions for this upcoming season.

Clyde A. Speller is an NFL writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ClydeASpeller, or add him to your network on Google+

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5. Guy Whimper

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Even though second-year player Mike Adams is slated to start at right tackle in 2013, there is still some uncertainty with his ability to protect. In the event that Adams struggles like he did last season, eight-year veteran Guy Whimper will more than likely be the next in line to help solidify an offensive line that had problems with setting the tone in the running game.

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4. Matt Spaeth

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The return of Pro Bowl tight end Heath Miller for the 2013 season is still up in the air. Although tight ends David Johnson and David Paulson might be used more in the passing game, Matt Spaeth’s blocking ability will be essential in both pass protection and opening holes for Pittsburgh’s ground attack.

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3. William Gay

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After playing last season with the Arizona Cardinals, the Steelers decided to bring back cornerback William Gay. Entering his seventh year in the league, Gay will have the opportunity to battle fellow cornerback Cortez Allen for a starting spot in Pittsburgh’s secondary. Whether Gay gets the starting nod or not, he will be highly depended upon to help a pass defense that was ranked first in the league in 2012.

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2. Bruce Gradkowski

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Everyone in Steeler Nation knows that in the past nine years, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has only played two seasons without being sidelined due to injury. If history is any indicator, chances are that Roethlisberger will be hit by the injury bug at some point in 2013.

This puts the attention on backup quarterback Bruce Gradkowski. The Pittsburgh native has just enough experience to be relied upon carry the offense in the event that Big Ben goes down. The one crucial thing about Gradkowski is that there is no experience behind him on the depth chart.

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1. LaRod Stephens-Howling

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The Steelers were uncharacteristically ranked 26th in the league in rushing last season. The most noticeable addition to Pittsburgh’s backfield is second-round draft pick Le’Veon Bell. However, a new face that is just as important is running back LaRod Stephens-Howling. The former Cardinal will not only add versatility to the running game and help take some pressure off the passing attack, but will also add a much-needed dimension to the return game on special teams.