Now that the Pittsburgh Steelers 2015 season has come to an end, here is a quick ,look at the team’s free agents heading into the offseason along with a quick note on each player.
We will be breaking down all of these players completely in individual posts during the offseason so stay tuned fore those.
Unrestricted Free Agents
William Gay – CB – Gay has had another great season for the Steelers both outside and in the slot. Being as the team only has cornerbacks Cortez Allen, Senquez Golson and Doran Grant under contract for 2016, they absolutely need to re-sign Gay to at least a two-year deal.
Kelvin Beachum – T – Beachum gambled at the start of the season that he would have another strong year and then cash in during free agency. However, a torn ACL his left knee suffered in the Week 6 game against the Arizona Cardinals prematurely ended his season. Because of that injury Beachum’s value has dropped dramatically. The Steelers got a long look at Alejandro Villanueva this season so Beachum will be allowed to test free agency. I doubt he’ll be back in 2016, but it might be a while before he signs with anyone due to his knee injury. I will hate to see him go, but he might be too expensive.
Steve McLendon – NT – McLendon managed to stay healthy in 2015 and he played well against the run. He also proved that he can provide a few rotational snaps at defensive end this season in addition to playing in sub packages. The Steelers would be wise to try to lock up McLendon with a two-year deal with very little guaranteed money involved. With that said, I expect McLendon to get some looks from other 3-4 teams in free agency. I think and hope he’ll be back as Daniel McCullers might not be starter material.
Ramon Foster – G – Foster will turn 30 in January. Being as he’s not the most mobile of big men, his market value should be affordable on a two or three-year deal very similar to the last one he signed that only included a $900,000 signing bonus. Being as you know he’d like to end his career where it started, there’s probably a good chance Foster is back in 2016.
Antwon Blake – CB – Much to the chagrin of the fan base, the Steelers coaches like Blake. He played injured this season and played poorly on top of that. With that said, it won’t be surprising to see him back in 2016 on a one-year deal for the minimum because of the lack of experienced cornerbacks on the roster.
Brandon Boykin – CB – Boykin is likely counting down the days until free agency arrives so he can get out of Pittsburgh. It will be very surprising if he’s re-signed, but stranger things have happened. Once he finally played, he was an asset on defense.
Greg Warren – LS – Assuming he wants to keep playing, there’s no reason to think that Warren won’t be re-signed to yet another one-year qualifying contract for the minimum during the offseason.
Sean Spence – ILB – Spence is a part-time player and special teams contributor and because of that he has a minimum value. It wouldn’t hurt to give him a one-year deal for the minimum in hopes that he can win a spot on the 2016 roster. I doubt he gets much attention during free agency.
Cam Thomas – DE/NT – Thomas’s days in the league are likely numbered. His market value at this point is only the veteran minimum and the Steelers would be wise to let him walk off.
Will Allen – S – At some point, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin needs to cut the cord that he has had attached to Allen even though he only comes with a veteran minimum salary. He’s a great human and a heck of a leader in the locker room, but the time has come for the Steelers to move on from him. He missed a ton of tackles in 2015.
Robert Golden – S – Golden played well enough when given an opportunity that he warrants being re-signed to a one-year deal for the minimum at the very least. He’s also an above average special teams player. The Steelers have holes at safety, so might get a two or three-year deal with some guaranteed money from Pittsburgh prior to free agency starting.
Clifton Geathers – DE – Steelers defensive line coach John Mitchell wanted Geathers back in 2015 but the big man failed to make it through training camp because of some sort of medical issue. Assuming he can play again, it would only cost the Steelers another minimum contract to see if he can win a roster spot. With that said, it’s probably just best to move on from him.
Darrius Heyward-Bey – WR – At this point in his career, Heyward-Bey is just a marginal special teams player who can give you some snaps at wide receiver. His speed is his only asset and that’s not saying much. If for some reason the Steelers want him back in camp again, it will only cost them a minimum contract in order to make that happen. As with others on this list, it’s probably time to move on from Heyward-Bey.
Bruce Gradkowski – QB – If the Steelers want Gradkowski back in 2016 to battle Landry Jones for the No. 2 spot, a one-year qualifying contract after the draft for the minimum will certainly make that happen. We’ll see, but it’s not going to happen anytime soon.
Michael Vick – QB – Vick’s playing days are over.
Jordan Todman – RB – Todman still has some value as a third running back and special teams player so it shouldn’t be a surprise if he gets a minimum deal somewhere else. Id like to see him back competing for a soot, but doubt it happens with Fitzgerald Toussaint now on the scene.
Will Johnson – FB/TE – With Nix now in town, Johnson’s value to the team has diminished greatly. With that said, I won’t be surprised one bit if he’s re-signed to a one-year minimum deal during the offseason to compete for a roster spot in training camp. I can’t see many teams having interest in him for more than league minimum.
Doug Legursky – C/G – Thankfully, Legursky didn’t have to play but a handful of snaps in 2015. I doubt he’ll be re-signed during the offseason.
Byron Stingily – T – Because Steelers offensive line coach Mike Munchak has a history with Stingily, I won’t be a shock if he’s re-signed to a one-year minimum contract during the offseason to serve as a camp body. He never dressed this year after he was signed to take Beachum’s roster spot.
David Nelson – WR – Thanks, but no thanks.
Restricted Free Agents
Terence Garvin – LB – Garvin is the team’s only restricted free agent this year and while he missed a few games due to a knee injury, there’s a good chance he’s offered a one-year restricted for the minimum due to his ability to perform on special teams.
Exclusive Rights Free Agents
Roosevelt Nix – RB – You can bet your bottom dollar that Nix will be tendered a one-year deal for the minimum that he must accept if he wants to play in 2016. The Kent State product has not only been an asset on offense as a fullback, he’s also a solid special teams player to boot. The good thing about Nix moving forward is that he’ll be easy to keep as he’ll be a restricted free agent after the 2016 season. he ended the year on IR with a foot injury.
Ross Cockrell – CB – Cockrell will certainly be back in 2016 as the Steelers will tender him a one-year minimum contract that he must accept.
Chris Hubbard – G – The Steelers really seem to like Hubbard’s position flexibility as they used him as a reserve swing tackle and extra blocking tight end in 2015. While there’s no guarantee he will make the roster in 2016, it makes sense to tender him the minimum being as he’s an exclusive rights player.
Rob Blanchflower – TE – The Steelers former seventh-round draft pick just can’t seem to stay healthy and while it might be time to move on from him for good, there’s still an outside shot he gets a minimum exclusive rights tender to compete in training camp.
Kelvin Palmer – T – Palmer suffered a serious knee injury during the preseason and thus spent year on the IR. He wasn’t going to make the roster, but he did have a shot at the practice squad before going down. Assuming he gets fully healthy, there’s an outside chance he’ll get a minimum tender. However, I’ll bet he doesn’t.
Mitchell Van Dyk – T – Like Palmer, Van Dyk suffered a serious injury during the preseason and because of that he landed on Reserve/Injured. His play wasn’t overly great, so I will be surprised if he’d tendered during the offseason.