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You know the dream, the one that seems like it’s over then something strange, something bizarre happens and you realize you never woke up and are still in the dream. So it’s been with the Steelers, dream walking through a world of past glories and unrealized potential. It’s time to Wake Up!
The Steeler Way
Lose a Kevin Greene, James Harrison, James Farrior, Hines Ward, Aaron Smith etc., No big deal. Groom a CB for three years so they can go find employment with the Saints, business as usual, let a leg shooting WR go to the city where careers go to die and take him back, that was easy. So goes the Steeler Way.
Ignore veteran players that could add depth experience. Free agency, What!?!???
Recreate a team that’s three decades old? It’s a slam dunk.
And so has been the Steeler Way for years and years and most of the time it worked.
That Was Then, This is Now. Song Follows:
In the meantime the Patriots, Ravens, Browns, Cincinnati have wheeled and dealed to keep their teams at the top or headed that way. While the Steelers wallow in denial and self negating behavior.
Free Agency – Veterans
There’s a number of intriguing Free Agents still available. After the draft anyone of these players could bring much needed experience and talent to our growing Position of Need list:
RB – Ahmed Bradshaw – this would be a win win situation. I’ve always thought Bradshaw would make a great Steeler. With his combination of power and nimbleness he could bring a lot of the elements we’ve been missing since The Bus retired. If they can get him they have to try. It seems like he’s been around forever but, he’s only 26 and yes he’s’ injury prone with multiple foot surgeries but, in our Running Back by Committee scheme he could thrive for several years. He could be “The Man”.
RB – Beanie Wells – a strong goal line runner when he’s healthy, could find the home he’s been looking for with the Steelers.
Others that could be good: Scat Back Felix Jones, All-purpose Backs Ryan Grant and former Steeler Mewelde Moore. It would be good to give Big Ben a familiar face for 3rd down and check down situations.
RT – Andre Smith – Could anchor the right side of the Steelers line for years. He’s only 26. I think he could thrive in the Steelers winning organization as opposed to the Bengals enabling environment. A perennial premier talent, he would have to be paid as such.
LT-RT – Bryant Mckinnie – The Ravens vet could give a little breathing room for the talented and very willing Mike Adams to develop. A strong veteran force on the line who could give particular insight in to our Arch Rival Rat Birds. At 33 he could be a perfect transition player for the Steelers. Both Smith and Mckinnie have the extra advantage of making us better while making our AFC North rivals weaker.
LT-RT Jared Gaither – Another player that seems to have been around forever but, is only 27, the extremely talented Gaither, who has had knocks for being injury prone and unfocused could find a home in an organization that has a great training program and outstanding coaching staff. Could be a permanent solution, first at LT then at RT once Mike Adams develops.
OG Deuce Letui – Has practically been a Steeler playing on Whisenhunt’s Cardinals. Letui is strong in pulling, excellent in run blocking and sound in pass protection. At 30 he’s a vet that could be around for a while.
OG Brian Waters – Though 36, Brian could provide a solid veteran presence for a couple years on the interior line. Probably more of a talented sub than a starter at this point.
DE-OLB Dwight Freeney – This talented defensive lineman is near the end of his career at 33. He could give the Steelers a strong outside presence. He spent most of his career in a 4-3 defense, but showed he could do well in a 3-4 last season.
DE Israel Idonije – Another older 4-3 guy could be a great back up or transition player for Cameron Hayward.
The Good News – James Harrison said he was amenable to coming back. And since the league isn;t beating down his door and with the Steelers never entering the Paul Kruger, Elvis Dumerville sweepstakes I have to think he would be welcomed back. The whole thing was not because both sides didn’t want to make a deal but, because they couldn’t get it done in time. We need to start transitioning James out and see if Jason Worilds or others can get the job done.
CB Antoine Winfield – At 36 Winfield still has some gas in the tank. Could provide a cushion for the eventual Cortez Allen or Curtis Brown era and provide some very crafty leadership at the position.
CB Quentin Jammer – Age 34. See above.
S Kerry Rhodes – 30, could step in once Ryan Clark retires and provide some Troy Polamalu insurance.
S Atari Bigby – Age 31. See above.
Putting it All (or some of It) together.
I think it’s easy to see how a few key signings from this list could change the Steelers from a rebuilding to Super Bowl contending team. I will concentrate on my biggest obsession, the Offensive Line. We could be looking at something like this:
LT – LG – C- RG -RT – Jared Gaither, Deuce Letui, Maurkice Pouncey, Ramon Foster, Andre Smith, Mike Adams, David DeCastro, Doug Legursky, Kelvin Beachum, Marcus Gilbert
Now that’s an impressive lineup no matter how you shuffle the cards. And you could always go with the all in version that would be something like this:
LT – LG – C – RG- RT – Mike Adams, David DeCastro, Maurkice Pouncey, Ramon Foster, Marcus Gilbert
So that’s not even counting who we might get in the Draft. Some quick notes though he didn’t screw up too much but, Marcus Gilbert looked very uncomfortable when asked to play LT. He may just wind up to be a good backup. I think I would feel very good about this lineup with the addition of Gaither or Smith alone. So the way it works post draft you have a real good idea of the cap space you’ll have and when Free Agency ends about the 3rd game of the season you start working from the next years cap. Free Agency never really ends anyway.
Some Video of my 2013 Picks:
1st Rd – RB Eddie Lacey AL – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZHq1-5FiAZM
2nd Rd – CB Desmond Trufant OR – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pS1hnBKuQmo
3rd Rd – OT Kyle Long OR – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bKE7PwX9zDs
4th Rd – QB Landry Jones OK – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vUBfJUVLhpI
5th Rd – S Shawn Williams GA – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8pemDtBQiXU
6th – WR Stedmond Bailey WVU – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6TWLXrlF8SE
6th Rd PK Dustin Hopkins FSU – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L18Hx0esigo
7th Rd – COG Eric Herman Ohio – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TGlbMZxCbPY
Next Time: More on why the Steelers Way doesn’t work anymore, possible rookie free agents and more.
A Featured Columnist for the Pittsburgh Steelers on Pittsburgh Blitz. "JB Steel" is the resident Draft Guru and the premiere Armchair GM here at the Blitz and is an avid fan of the Steelers, Pens, and Pirates.
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