More tough decisions remain for Steelers
Share with others:
Tough decisions have been made and executed. Now, the Steelers face more of a different kind.
They picked the ones to go, now they must try to keep the ones they want. Among them are wide receivers Mike Wallace and Jerricho Cotchery.
The Steelers will issue Wallace a $2.7 million tender as a restricted free agent next week. That will allow them to match a contract he might sign elsewhere, or receive a first-round pick from the signing team in return.
Cotchery is an unrestricted free agent and they have been negotiating with his agent, Jack Scharf, to sign a new deal before he hits free agency March 13, although general manager Kevin Colbert predicted they would sign no free agents before then.
The success of their efforts will turn on how much the Steelers can offer another receiver, and whether Cotchery, who has declared his desire to remain with the Steelers, will accept a role as low as No. 4 receiver behind Wallace, Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders.
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has lobbied for Cotchery's return, telling the Post-Gazette this week that "I think you have to do everything you can to sign Jerricho back.''
But those two are not the only ones on the Steelers' agenda.
Veteran backup quarterbacks Byron Leftwich and Charlie Batch are unrestricted free agents, as is Dennis Dixon, whom the Steelers expect to leave.
Other UFAs: Starting cornerback William Gay, starting left tackle Max Starks, punter Daniel Sepulveda and versatile backup offensive lineman Trai Essex.
Colbert has conjectured that with Willie Colon back at right tackle, Marcus Gilbert will move to left tackle.
That will take Starks, who had ACL surgery in January, out of the equation.
Besides Wallace, the Steelers have some interesting decisions to make on other RFAs, which include starting guards Doug Legursky and Ramon Foster, fullback/tight end David Johnson, No. 3 cornerback Keenan Lewis and backup safety Ryan Mundy.
The Steelers have four choices on their RFAs. Like Wallace, they can give them a tender that comes to $2.742 million. They can tender them at $1.927 million with a second-round draft pick as compensation. They can tender them at $1.26 million with compensation a draft pick in the same round in which the player was originally drafted (Legursky and Foster were undrafted and thus bring no compensation if this is the choice). All of those choices would also give the Steelers the right to match any contract.
The final choice would be to offer them nothing, which would make them unrestricted free agents.
The Steelers may have little choice but to tender Legursky and Wallace at least at $1.927 million or risk losing both, and with Chris Kemoeatu gone they don't have many guards left. That would cost them nearly $4 million in cap space, and leave Lewis, Johnson and Mundy still to deal with.
First Published March 3, 2012 12:00 am