It feels almost certain the Pittsburgh Steelers are going to be in the market for an interior offensive lineman. The team currently only has seven healthy offensive lineman, and it’s a scary thought to imagine Chris Hubbard – or Doug Legursky if he’s brought back – as the top immediate backup.
Some possible options for the Steelers based on who is already available.
Wesley Johnson: Johnson has been officially released by the New York Jets, a mild surprise as some figured him to be the #2 center behind Nick Mangold. We’ve outlined the team’s relationship with him previously. A fifth round pick and kept on the teams 53 man roster a year ago, before getting claimed on waivers as injuries forced the Steelers to release him. As I wrote before, the only hindrance would be a lack of NFL experience for Johnson, especially if they’re looking for someone to be the top interior backup.
Adam Gettis: Gettis was released by the New York Giants today. Gettis was signed to the Steelers’ practice squad in October before being poached by the Giants in December. Gettis was a decent athlete coming out of Iowa. He’s not the best option but don’t be surprised if he is, at worst, added to the team’s practice squad. They need the bodies.
Julian Vandervelde: A versatile center/guard, the Philadelphia Eagles released him yesterday. He has some NFL experience and could become the most talented interior backup over Hubbard.
Fernando Velasco: A popular name in Steelers’ circles, he certainly has the experience, a little versatility, and the familiarity with the team. Still, getting released among the first waves on a pretty sub-par Tennessee Titans’ offensive line, one that just dumped Andy Levitre, isn’t an inspiring sign.
Patrick Omameh: Going a little out of left field here, especially because Omameh has strictly been a guard for most of his football career. He played center in high school, for whatever it’s worth. He was beaten out for the starting right guard spot in Tampa Bay, but offers a lot of football experience, a 16 game starter last year, and is regarded as a high-character, intelligent person who had offers to attend Princeton and MIT. If the Steelers keep eight offensive lineman active on game day, something they’ve been more inclined to do over the last two years, the need for versatiltty is softened just a bit. Alejandro Villanueva could be the swing tackle while having a pure guard and center also active and backing up the interior.
Gabe Ikard: More likely a practice squad candidate, Ikard has some center/guard experience at Oklahoma. The Tennessee Titans cut him today.