The Pittsburgh Steelers won’t have as much cap room as they might like going into 2016, but that doesn’t mean that they will stand still.
Recently the Rooney family made some noise about wanting the team to be more aggressive in free agency. So, we should expect the Steelers to go after some talent once the market opens on March 15th.
Deciding which free agents to target and which ones to let slide is always a difficult call. One thing to consider is how each signing will impact Pittsburgh’s division opponents. If they can sign away players from the Cleveland Browns, Cincinnati Bengals or Baltimore Ravens they get a win-win.
First, they damage their AFC North foes by taking away their talent. Second, they already will have some familiarity with them after facing them twice a year.
Let’s break down the intriguing pending free agents for each of the Steelers’ division rivals and see whether they should take a look.
Leon Hall – CB
Adam Jones – CB
Reggie Nelson -FS
George Iloka – SS
Brandon Tate – WR
As you can see, most of Cincinnati’s crucial free agents are in their secondary, which would fit perfect for Pittsburgh’s needs. Hall and Jones would both represent upgrades at cornerback, as would Nelson or Iloka at safety. However, it’s unlikely that the Bengals will let this unit get taken apart in free agency. The most realistic target may be Brandon Tate, who is a far better kick returner than anyone on the Steelers roster not named Antonio Brown.
Justin Tucker – K
Matt Schaub – QB
Shareece Wright – CB
As the Steelers learned the hard way early on in 2015, it’s easy to overlook placekickers until you need one. Tucker is easily the best free agent kicker and it would be sweet to lure him away from Baltimore. Unfortunately the Ravens are likely to use their franchise tag on him. Pittsburgh does need a new backup for Ben Roethlsiberger, though and Matt Schaub is better than Landry Jones. If he could be had for the veteran minimum it might be a good investment.
Tashaun Gipson – FS
Johnson Bademosi – CB
Terrelle Pryor – WR/QB
It’s easy to forget that a couple of years ago Gipson is considered one of the NFL’s rising stars at safety. From 2013 to 2014 he tallied 11 interceptions in 27 games. Last year he backslid along with the rest of the Browns, but the potential is still there. If Gipson’s market value has dropped enough he could be a steal. Terelle Pryor is also an interesting candidate be cause of his athleticism and versatility. He played wideout for Cleveland but he made his name playing quarterback at Ohio State.
Good teams have always and will always build through the NFL Draft. Great teams know a free agent bargain when they see one and aren’t afraid to pounce.