Monday, April 16, 2012

Lock and Load

As the clock ticks down towards April 20, restricted and exclusive rights free agents have begun to sign their tender offers from the Steelers. April 20 is the last day that restricted free agents can sign offer sheets from another team. Obviously the biggest question mark hovering out there is Mike Wallace, who (reportedly) will not sign his tender. However, we're of the opinion that this is just his agent trying to drum up something and force the Steelers hand before the deadline. Obviously, Wallace's agent wants Wallace to get paid because he'll get a big chunk of that money. However, the Steelers aren't going to budge and get suckered in by Bus Cook trying to spread rumors through the media. One rumor last week was that "several teams" are interested in Wallace. Well, he has yet to receive an offer and even if he signs an offer sheet with another team, the Steelers have the right to match it. And if Bus Cook thinks going through the media will entice the Steelers to trade Wallace, he's dead wrong on that one. Finally, if Wallace thinks not signing his tender and holding out is going to solve anything, he's wrong as well. Take a lesson from Vincent Jackson, Mike.

Wallace has to play in at least 6 games next season to qualify for a "full season" in order to even be able to test the waters of unrestricted free agency next year. Which basically means he has to play for the Steelers at some point this season. The long and the short of it is, we're not worried. For an in-depth look at the Wallace situation, check out this post from Mark Kaboly over at the Trib.

The Steelers did solidify their wide receiving corps by re-signing Jerricho Cotchery to a 2-year deal last week.
They followed it up by adding TE Leonard Pope, presumably to counteract the Jets signing Tim Tebow. Makes sense that the Catholic Rooney family would work to get the Pope on their team. He might be a #2 tight end, but you've gotta believe we're gonna run that joke into the ground.

In other news that may have flown under-the-radar, the Steelers have signed a slew of their restricted free agents which has solidified their depth chart heading into the draft.

Last week we locked up guards Ramon Foster and Doug Legursky, who should start the season as the starting Right and Left Guard, respectively.
Foster was originally an undrafted free agent and has been good but not great at the RG spot. His play has been solid and his is a mauler in the run game.
Legursky has bounced around as a backup on the O-line. He was the starting RG at the beginning of last season and the starting LG at the end while also seeing some time at center when Maurkice Pouncey was injured. The Steelers also re-signed Trai Essex, who presumably will be the top backup at guard and the second backup at tackle behind Jonathan Scott. The O-line depth chart should look something like this as of right now:

T - W. Colon, M. Gilbert, J. Scott
G - R. Foster, D. Legursky, T. Essex
C - M. Pouncey

Today, news broke that the Steelers had reached agreements with three more players - quarterback Charlie Batch, corner back Keenan Lewis, and safety Ryan Mundy.

"Homestead Charlie" will likely head into the season as the #2 quarterback on the roster, but don't be surprised if the Steelers draft a QB in the mid-to-late rounds as a "project" #3 QB who can eventually take over as the back-up.

With the departure of William Gay to Arizona, Lewis will compete with second-year corners Cortez Allen and Curtis Brown for the starting spot. This will probably be the biggest position battle heading into camp. Allen played very well in the dime defense over the second half of last year and Brown led the team in special teams tackles. Lewis had a big-time interception against Kansas City to seal the game and was the teams nickel corner for much of last season.

Mundy returns as the #3 safety on the roster and the first one in if either Troy or Clark has to miss a play. The Steelers did employ a few "dollar" formations last year where they had 3 corners and 3 safeties on the field, with Mundy playing a deep centerfield and Troy and Ryan playing a little closer to the numbers.

No comments: