Offseason Overview: Steelers Have Talent; Can They Put it All Together?

Ward still a force in Pittsburgh

Franchise Player: None

TRANSITION PLAYER: OT Max Starks (tendered at $6.895M; signed tender April 21).

UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS

• LB Marquis Cooper is a special teams player and possible developmental linebacker. Not a priority.

• RB Verron Haynes was re-signed late in the season after Willie Parker was hurt but likely won’t receive another offer from Pittsburgh.

• FB Dan Kreider’s role was diminished last year and then his ACL was torn. He’s working out and the Steelers might sign him if he gets no looks elsewhere.

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: None.

EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS

• LB Arnold Harrison will receive a contract because he’s a good, young backup at a position that is thin and he also plays special teams.

PLAYERS ACQUIRED

• LB Keyaron Fox: UFA Chiefs; $645,000/1 yr, $40,000 SB; 2008 cap: $485,000.

• C Justin Hartwig: FA Panthers; $3.725M/2 yrs, $975,000 SB.

• RB Mewelde Moore: UFA Vikings; $4.95M/3 yrs, $1.35M SB.

PLAYERS RE-SIGNED

• DE Nick Eason: UFA’ 2 yrs, terms unknown.

• OT Trai Essex: RFA, $927,000/1 yr.

• LB Andre Frazier: Not tendered as RFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.

• G Chris Kemoeatu: RFA; $1.47M/1 yr.

• DE Travis Kirschke: Potential UFA; 2 yrs, terms unknown.

• OT Max Starks: TFA; $6.895M/1 yr.

• LS Greg Warren: RFA; $2.3M/3 yrs, $395,000 SB.

• WR Nate Washington: RFA; $1.47M/1 yr.

PLAYERS LOST

• G Alan Faneca: UFA Jets; $40M/5 yrs, $21M guaranteed.

• LB Clark Haggans: UFA Cardinals; $1.5M/1 yr, SB unknown.

• LB Cliff Kriewaldt (released/failed physical).

• CB/KR Allen Rossum (released).

• QB Brian St. Pierre: UFA Cardinals; 1 yr, terms unknown.

• TE Jerame Tuman (released).

• WR Cedrick Wilson (released).

The first half of the 2007 season it looked as if the Steelers were going to run away with the AFC North, and at one point Sporting News picked them as the favorite to beat the Patriots at some point in the season and possibly the AFC playoffs. Then, just as they were getting stronger, the bottom dropped out. Injuries, inconsistent play, and then more injuries marred the last half of Mike Tomlin’s first year as Steelers head coach, and despite finishing 10-6, the team lost its first playoff game at home to the Jaguars, a team that looks more like the Steelers now than the Steelers do.

The team looked to reload this offseason, getting some players like Willie Parker back from injury, and as usual the team was frugal in picking up just three players – LB Keyaron Fox (KC), C Justin Hartwig (Carolina), and RB Mewelde Moore (Minnesota). They resigned eight players, and lost three (Alan Faneca’s departure was expected, but hurts the most), and released four, including WR Cedric Wilson, who can’t stop hitting women. Pittbsugh picked up two possible big-name weapons in the draft, RB Rashard Mendenhall in round one, and WR Limas Sweed in round two. While they will be pressed hard by the Browns in the North, they still have plenty of talent to be one of the top 3-4 teams in the AFC.

Offseason Grade to Date: C+


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