It seems every year around this time, the talk about the Pittsburgh Steelers and the impending free agency is the need for the historic franchise is to add more help on the defensive side of the ball. This year is no different as the Steelers, a team that reached the AFC Title Game, lacks depth in the secondary and could use help on the defensive line.
And before long, there may be the talk of the need to find a replacement for Ben Roethlisberger, who toyed with the idea of hanging it up after the season was over.
As Parker Hurley wrote on Fansided.com, “The Steelers are notably a team that likes to draft well and retains their own. It can be shown by the fact that their two biggest free agent signings of the past decade are Mike Mitchell and Ladarius Green.
“However, those two signings each came in the past three years. On top of that, the Steelers are in their best salary cap state in years. Who are the players that they will be spending their money on?”
It’s a question all Pittsburgh Steelers fans want to know. Will this year’s offseason haul, and the rookies selected in the NFL Draft, be the final piece to overtaking the New England Patriots and reach the Super Bowl once again?
Here’s a look at five free agents the team should target in free agency.
Chandler Jones, Outside Linebacker – Jones was traded by the Patriots last season to the Arizona Cardinals and missed out on a Super Bowl ring. At 27 years old, Jones still can be an effective pass rusher and help in pass coverage. Lawrence Timmons is a free agent, which is a priority for this team in the offseason. But bringing in someone who is in their football prime helps the defensive unit exponentially. Jones made $2.04 million last season and could be a steal for this team.
Stephon Gilmore, Cornerback – The Buffalo Bills will do everything they can to retain Gilmore’s services. It may not be enough. Gilmore might be one of the more sought after defensive backs in free agency. With the Bills hiring defensive-mind Sean McDermott from Carolina as their head coach, the idea if to keep the core of young talent. Gilmore how made just over $3 million last season, is looking for a bigger payday. Even more so than linebacker, the secondary should be the team’s first target.
Anquan Bolden, Wide Receiver – The Pittsburgh Steelers could still use another set of hands in the passing game. Bolden, even at 37 years old, does it better than most. He could be the possession receiver this team needs with a young corps of pass catchers. Bolden has been solid in his stops along his NFL career and would give the team something it has been missing since Hines Ward called it a career. This is a no-brainer choice.
Logan Ryan, Defensive Back – Ryan showed the Steelers and the NFL how good he could be and should entertain many offers in free agency if he does not stay in New England. Ryan, who made $693,000 last season, is young and serves as a low risk, high reward type of selection. He should be a focal point of several NFL teams this offseason. If anything, signing him to a contract takes away a component of the Patriots defense they used to win Super Bowl 51.
Matt Barkley, Quarterback – At some point, like I mentioned earlier, the Pittsburgh Steelers must find a replacement for Roethlisberger. Barkley has shown in his few opportunities, he could be an effective starter in the NFL. He would be a reasonably inexpensive pickup. Landry Jones is a free agent and may not be re-signed. In my mind, Barkley is a better player with a better arm. This could be one of those under the radar signings that pay off since Roethlisberger is one of the most injury prone passers in the league.