Steelers Free Agency Focus: Restricted Free Agents

While this fall short of “cheating” it is easier to write about the Steelers restricted free agency plans given that they have already made their tenders, and free agency is underway in a big way in Pittsburgh. Nonetheless, there are some interesting scenarios to ponder.

  • OT Willie Colon:

What the Steelers Have Done So Far: The Steelers offered Colon the second highest tender possible, meaning any team would have to give up their first round pick to get Colon, and the Steelers would still retain the right to match any offer.

What Happens Next….: Ed Bouchette of the Post Gazette speculated that a team might just give up a first rounder to get a qualified tackle. Since then, he has called around the league and thinks that is less likely.

The Steelers would likely match any reasonable offer for Colon, and one would think they would attempt to sign him to a long term deal.

  • CB William Gay:

What the Steelers Have Done So Far: How much can a player’s stock drop in one year?During Steelers 2008 season, Gay’s performance in relief of injured Bryant McFadden was so good that he continued to rotate with the veteran all the way through Super Bowl XLIII.

The Steelers did want to resign McFadden, because of the potential Gay revealed with his play in 2008, the Steelers opted not to get into a bidding war for McFadden.

2009, was of course, a rough year for Gay, as it was the entire secondary. The Steelers’ tender only entitles them to a 5th round pick should anyone elect to sign him with the Steelers declining their right of first refusal.

What Happens Next….: It is doubtful that Gay will get a lot of attention, but a fifth round pick isn’t much to give up to get a corner that has starting experience. The Steelers do have two young corners waiting in the wings. While the drop off in Gay’s play from 2008 to 2009 was disturbing, this young man deserves another chance, and Steel Curtain Rising hopes he gets it with the Steelers.

  • P Daniel Sepulveda:

What the Steelers Have Done So Far: Again, the Steelers tender will only entitle them to a 4th round pick should he depart.

What Happens Next….: The Post-Gazette’s Ed Bouchette has been railing against Sepulveda since they day the drafted him. Three years later the move seems puzzling. While Sepulveda was clearly an upgrade from Mitch Berger, the naked truth remains that if you trade a sixth round pick to move up in the fourth to get a punter, that punter had better remind everyone of Josh Miller.

Sepulveda has been good, but thus far reminds no one of Josh Miller. On the flip side, the odds of another team giving up a fourth to sign Sepulveda are remote to say the least.

  • RB Carey Davis:

What the Steelers Have Done So Far: The Steelers cut Carey Davis in training camp, and quickly experienced an acute bout of buyers remorse when it was clear that Frank “The Tank” Summers was not up to the job and/or got injured. The Steelers did not make Davis and offer, so he is now an unrestricted free agent.

What Happens Next….: Davis became the poster boy for Bruce Arians’ offense, as Dan Kreider was quietly phased out in 2007 in favor of the supposedly more versatile Davis.

Davis had done OK when he’s gotten the ball in his hands, but those moments have been few and far between. While the Steelers could do worse the Davis for depth in the backfield, outside of special teams, where Davis is regarded as a contributor, Davis has yet to show he is more than a emergency-type player.

It wouldn’t hurt to bring Davis back to camp for the veteran minimum, but that is not looking likely right now.

  • TE Matt Spaeth:

What the Steelers Have Done So Far: Spaeth got the tender that would entitle the Steelers to a 3rd round draft pick should he leave.

What Happens Next….: Spaeth is a perplexing character. Bruce Arians likes to use the two tight end set, but Spaeth’s blocking puts fear into no one.

The puzzling thing is that Spaeth can catch. He started his first two NFL games with three catches and two touchdowns, prompting Mike Tomlin say he is a fantasy league super star. Injuries limited during the middle of the 2007 campaign, but he finished the year with five catches and three touchdowns.

Spaeth, looked like a Yancy Thigpen in waiting. (In his first full year as a Steeler, Thigpen only caught nine balls, but three of them were for touchdowns.)

When Health Miller went down for a brief stretch during the 2008 season, Spaeth stepped up, catching six passes in both games for 53 and 55 yards. Once again, Speath showed us he had tools, only to disappear from the offense (he caught two more passes during the rest of the year.)
Spaeth started 2009 by catching a touchdown pass in week two against Chicago, but then he became invisible offense. Why the Steelers do not attempt to use him more remains a mystery.

  • OG Darnell Stapleton:

What the Steelers Have Done So Far: Stapelton got no tender, and is therefore an unrestricted free agent.

What Happens Next….: Who knows? Trust into the starting lineup when Kendall Simmons went down against Baltimore in 2008, Stapleton slowly grew into the role. He was beaten out of the starting guard spot by Trai Essex in training camp, and then Stapelton he got hurt in went on IR.

The word is that Stapleton was a victim of the glut the Steelers have at guard. Quantity the Steelers do have behind their starters. Quality? That is a bigger question. Assuming no team signs him, the Steelers would be wise to bring Stapleton back to Latrobe for one more look.

Click on Steel Curtain Rising’s Steelers 2010 Free Agent Focus to follow all of the Steelers actions in free agency.

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