Assessing The Steelers Free Agent Alternatives: Offensive Tackle

Now that we’ve went over the running backs, it’s time to dive into a position that most Steelers fans (including myself) are begging Pittsburgh to add depth to in the offensive tackle position. Pittsburgh seemingly has the starters set at tackle with criminally underrated, Kelvin Beachum anchoring the left side and former 2nd round pick, Marcus Gilbert handling the right. With that said, the team’s top swing tackle option as of now is former 2nd round pick, Mike Adams who has been an extreme disappointment so far in his career. From there, Adams’ competition consists of undrafted free agents in Micah Hatchie and Kevin Whimpey, castoffs like former St. Louis Rams tackle, Mitchell Van Dyk and a player who has great measurables but lacks experience at the position in Alejandro Villanueva. With such poor depth at the tackle position it’s a wonder why the Steelers haven’t signed a veteran to compete with Adams and company for a roster spot. In the spirit of that, I present to you the alternatives left on the free agent market at the offensive tackle position.

Anthony Collins – A familiar face to Steelers fans due to his time with the Cincinnati Bengals Collins is a veteran who has played both tackle positions making him an ideal candidate to bring in as competition for a roster spot. Truthfully, I can’t wrap my head around why Collins hasn’t been scooped up by another team yet as he’s more than capable of contributing at this point in his career. Sure, he had a bad year with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but before that, he was a solid rotational player with Cincinnati. It reminds me of when former Dallas Cowboy All-Pro, Flozell Adams was available free agency during training camp time a few years ago. Of course, Pittsburgh wised up and brought him in to compete after Willie Colon went down and he played well. While Collins certainly doesn’t have the track record of Adams and probably wouldn’t make the impact, he could at least give Adams a run for his money at swing tackle and help a depth deprived offensive line. Unfortunately, barring injury, I don’t think we’ll see Collins sporting the black and gold, but I do expect him to play for some other team this season.

Paul McQuistan – Another familiar face due to his time with the Cleveland Browns McQuistan is a versatile player who has spent time at tackle and guard during his career. Honestly, I didn’t think about McQuistan as an option till fellow Steelers Depot writer, Alex Kozora mentioned him on the Terrible Podcast a few weeks ago. Despite McQuistan’s versatility, there’s one problem I can’t get over—he’s much more suited to play guard. Although he has played the offensive tackle position, McQuistan has been most effective at guard and played the majority of his career at that position. Of course, some Steelers fan would argue that bringing in a guard wouldn’t be a bad thing as thinking about anyone else playing guard not named Ramon Foster or David DeCastro gives me nightmares. That said, the position that needs more of an upgrade is offensive tackle and at least with the guard position there are highly touted prospects like B.J. Finney and Reese Dismukes providing competition. Not to mention Chris Hubbard. Say what you will about Hubbard, but he’s probably the 7th best offensive lineman on the team currently with center, Cody Wallace being the top backup in my opinion. Due to Hubbard and companies presence, I doubt we see McQuistan with the Steelers.

Tony Hills– The most familiar face on this list, as Hills is a former 4th round pick of the Steelers finds himself available after the Dallas Cowboys parted ways with him during the offseason. Honestly, the only positive about bringing back Hills would be that general manager, Kevin Colbert and head coach, Mike Tomlin could argue that the 2008 draft class wasn’t the worst draft in team history—even then, it still probably is. Hills has played for several teams in his career, not lasting long at any of his stops. I don’t think he would beat out Mike Adams or even push him so I’ll say its best to leave Hills to someone else.

Gabe Carimi– I’ll admit, I’ve been pretty negative so far in this post. As much as I want the Steelers to bring in someone to compete with Adams, I don’t see much competition. However, I’ll go to bat for one guy and that guy is Gabe Carimi. The former first round bust with the Chicago Bears, Carimi has been a mediocre starter in the NFL so far. That said, he has shown versatility clocking in time at every offensive line position except for center in his career. In addition, he would be competing for the swing tackle role and not a starting position. Out of all the guys on the list, Carimi would make the most sense and he would actually have a chance at unseating Mike Adams.

Best of the Rest:

Jake Long – He’s a really interesting player, but the New York Giants have already contacted him and he could start for them with starting left tackle Will Beatty going down. In contrast, it would take an injury for Long to make his way into the starting lineup so he won’t be brought in.

Tyson Clabo – A long time veteran, Clabo was abysmal with the Houston Texans last season after being a staple with the Atlanta Falcons for many years. I don’t think there’s much left in the tank and it would be better to steer clear of Clabo.

Jonathan Scott – Another former Steeler, Scott has been bad so far in his career. I don’t think he would even make Mike Adams sweat so it would be wise if Pittsburgh let him stay on the couch.

Mike Johnson – Injuries have derailed his career and the former third round pick may be a better candidate for early retirement rather than a roster spot with the Steelers.

Eben Britton – Another veteran presence, Britton has had a mediocre career in the NFL. After spending time with the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Chicago Bears Britton finds himself on the couch as of right now. While Britton wouldn’t be the worst option to push Mike Adams, there’s one major problem. Britton has received a four game NFL ban for the 2015 season. I think that news speaks for itself, but to clarify, Britton will not be a Pittsburgh Steeler.

I have one final position in mind for the series, but if you guys want a certain position profiled comment below and I’ll consider doing an extra post after my third post.

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