Pittsburgh Steelers: 5 Free Agents They Should Re-Sign This Offseason
5 Free Agents the Steelers Should Re-Sign
The 2013 season looked to be a disaster for the Pittsburgh Steelers after the first four weeks. Mike Tomlin's club sat at 0-4 and was in need of a miraculous run to return to the playoffs. What ensued was a turnaround that didn't save Pittsburgh from the fate of missing the postseason for the second consecutive year, but did restore some respect to its 2013 campaign.
The Steelers won eight of their final 12 games and came within a missed field goal in the Kansas City Chiefs-San Diego Chargers Week 17 matchup from clinching a playoff spot. Even with the near improbable playoff berth, the Steelers clearly weren't the Super Bowl-caliber team they've been in recent seasons, though. A lethargic rushing attack and leaky pass defense highlighted a flawed roster that just didn't measure up to the standard Pittsburgh fans expected from one of the league's most storied franchises.
There's hope that with some tweaks during the offseason, however, the Steelers will re-emerge as a contender in 2014. To do so, several key contributors must be acquired during free agency and the draft. However, not only do the Steelers need to shore up their roster by adding the right veterans and selecting the right rookies, they must also make wise decisions when it comes to their own impending free agents.
A grand total of 22 players are scheduled to hit the market this offseason for Pittsburgh. Included in that group are some well-known players who have been crucial to the team's success, like Emmanuel Sanders, Brett Keisel and Ryan Clark. That said, the Steelers won't be able to re-sign them all. Let's determine the top five looming free agents they should focus on retaining.
Cody Strahm is a Miami Dolphins contributor for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @CodyJStrahm.
5. Jonathan Dwyer
Jonathan Dwyer led all Pittsburgh running backs in yards per carry in 2013 with a 4.0 average on 49 attempts. Serving as primarily a short-yardage runner, Dwyer was one bright spot in an otherwise unimpressive rushing attack. The Steelers should let fellow free agent tailback Felix Jones walk in order to re-sign Dwyer, who should come at a reasonable price.
4. Fernando Velasco
It appeared that the Steelers' offensive line was in dire straits when Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey was lost for the season. While the unit still had its struggles, Fernando Velasco filled in admirably in the middle. There was even some talk about keeping Velasco put at center and moving Pouncey to guard when the latter returned form injury. Velasco suffered an injury of his own, however, when he tore his Achilles tendon late in November. However, if he doesn't hit any road blocks during his recovery, he would still be a nice asset to keep around.
3. Will Allen
With Ryan Clark likely signing elsewhere in free agency, the Steelers will need someone to replace him at strong safety. Their most qualified in-house candidate is Will Allen. As Pro Football Focus' 30th overall safety, Allen tallied 43 tackles, one forced fumble and two interceptions in 2013. At 31-years old, Allen isn't a long-term answer at safety, but is a capable band-aid and could be had with a relatively inexpensive offer. If nothing else, he should be able to provide Pittsburgh's secondary with depth near the tail-end of his career.
2. Jerricho Cotchery
No Steelers pass catcher produced as many touchdowns as Jerricho Cotchery in 2013. His 10 scores were the most of his 10-year career and the 10th most in the entire league. With Emmanuel Sanders potentially bolting for a multi-year deal in free agency, Cotchery should be retained as a solid complement to Antonio Brown. Cotchery is one day older than Will Allen, and also wouldn't require a pricey deal to keep.
1. Jason Worilds
There's no question that Jason Worilds will be one of the Steelers' top priorities this offseason. Worilds had his best season to date in 2013, racking up 63 tackles, 8.0 sacks and two forced fumbles. Only 11 3-4 outside linebackers in the entire league graded out more efficiently than Worilds. Pittsburgh should be wary of overspending, but if the price is right, it would be foolish to let one of its best defensive players get away.