Now that the Pittsburgh Steelers have been eliminated from the 2017-2018 playoffs, it’s time to do a quick overview of the players who are scheduled to be free agents come the start of the 2018 league year in March. As usual, these free agents are broken down by three types; unrestricted, restricted and exclusive rights.
In the coming weeks we will be individually breaking down all of these free agents extensively in separate posts.
Unrestricted Free Agents
Le’Veon Bell – RB – If the Steelers can’t sign Bell to an extension prior to the tag deadline, you can probably expect him to get the franchise tag once again. This year, however, that tag amount will be $14.54 million. Assuming he gets the franchise tag, the Steelers will then have until the middle of July to get Bell signed to a long term deal. I don’t expect that will happen and if it doesn’t, expect Bell to stay away from the team until after the preseason is over just as he did this past year.
Chris Hubbard – T – Hubbard made himself a lot of money this past year thanks to him filling in admirably for starting right tackle Marcus Gilbert for over half of the regular season. Hubbard will undoubtedly test unrestricted free agency during the offseason and should find a new home with a different team and potentially even as a starter.
Arthur Moats – OLB – Moats was the Steelers fourth string outside linebacker this season and wound up playing less than 100 total snaps on defense. He played more on special teams but just barely. The Steelers need to make a move to youth when it comes to their outside linebackers so it’s hard seeing Moats ultimately being re-signed. If Moats signs elsewhere, it will be for the minimum.
Sean Spence – ILB- Spence returned to Pittsburgh after starting linebacker Ryan Shazier went down injured. While Spence was the starter alongside Vince Williams after he returned, it’s hard to see him returning in 2018. If he is re-signed, it will be a one-year deal for the minimum with no guarantees he makes the final roster.
Daniel McCullers – DT – The Steelers former sixth-round draft pick only dressed for a manful of games this season and played less than 20 defensive snaps. McCullers isn’t likely to be re-signed during the offseason and it will be interesting to see if another team wants to bring him to training camp with them.
Stevan Ridley – RB – Ridley was a late season addition due to rookie running back James Conner going down injured. He played sparingly in the Steelers final two regular season games. If Ridley is re-signed during the offseason, it will be for the veteran minimum. Don’t be surprised if he’s not back.
Justin Hunter – WR – Hunter rarely played for the Steelers this past season as he spent most of the year on the inactive list. He does not play on special teams and that hurts his cause. It will be shocking if Hunter is re-signed during the offseason and he’ll be lucky to catch on elsewhere as well.
Daimion Stafford – S – Remember Stafford? He was placed on the Reserve/Did Not Report list in late July. Needless to say, he won’t be back anywhere in 2018.
Restricted Free Agents
Anthony Chickillo – OLB – Chickillo, who effectively was the Steelers No. 3 outside linebacker this season, will be restricted tendered during the offseason and probably at an original round level.
Eli Rogers – WR – Rogers, who was injured in the Divisional Round playoff loss, will likely be tendered at an original round level prior to the startt of the new league year. He had just 18 catches during the regular season.
Chris Boswell – K – Boswell, who was an exclusive rights free agent last offseason, will now be a restricted free agent and thus will restricted tendered in the coming weeks and perhaps even at a second-round level. Boswell will be a candidate for an offseason extension after he signs his restricted tender.
Jordan Berry – P – Berry is in the same boat as Boswell is. He, however, might only receive a right of first refusal tender from the Steelers. His punting this past season was pretty average.
Roosevelt Nix – FB – Nix will be restricted tendered but at what level? You could make an argument that he needs and deserves a second-round tender. If he receives a right of first refusal tender, another team might just sign him to an offer sheet. He’s a solid fullback and solid special teams player.
Fitgerald Toussaint – RB – Toussaint should be a restricted free agent during the offseason. After all, he was an ERFA last offseason. If restricted and if tendered, Toussaint will only get an original round level one. That’s not guaranteed to happen, however, as he’s not really worth more than the minimum.
Greg Ducre – CB – Ducre spent the 2017 season on the Steelers Reserve/Injured list and isn’t expected to be restricted tendered during the offseason.
Exclusive Rights Free Agents
Mike Hilton – CB – Hilton was a great offseason find for the Steelers. He wound up being the team’s primary sub package cornerback and played very well. He’ll definitely be tendered a one-year contract for the minimum. He’s a bargain for the next few seasons.
B.J Finney – C/G – Finney should be an ERFA again during the offseason and if so, will assuredly get a one-year minimum tender again just like last offseason. He can play both center and guard and even started at both positions this past season. He’s a keeper for sure.
Matt Feiler – G/T – The Steelers seem to really like Feiler as he stuck on the 53-man roster all season. While he played very few offensive snaps, the Steelers will likely tender him a one-year contract for the minimum that he’ll need to accept.
Xavier Grimble – TE – Grimble, like Finney, is one of those rare players who will likely be given back-to-back exclusive rights tenders. He’s a fringe roster player for sure, but the Steelers might want him back in training camp one final time.
Kameron Canaday – LS – Canaday, who beat out rookie draft pick Colin Holba for a roster spot during training camp, was the Steelers long snapper all season and did a great job. You can bet the Steelers will tender him a one-year exclusive rights tender for the minimum.
Mike Matthews – C – Matthews spent the 2017 season on the Steelers Reserve/Injured list with an unspecified injury. At this point, it’s hard to fathom him being given an exclusive rights tender as he was just practice squad material, if anything.