With each offseason brings change for any team. This offseason, the Steelers and the fans certainly expected change; we just thought most of it would come from the players. It turns out that there are plenty of changes within the coaching staff as well.
So far already, the team has lost 3 members of the coaching staff. Special teams coach Amos Jones left to join former offensive coordinator Bruce Arians in Arizona. Lost to the college ranks were offensive line coach Sean Kugler and now wide receiver coach Scottie Montgomery. The Steelers have hired a new offensive line coach in Jack Bicknell Jr and a new special teams guy in Danny Smith. The search will begin for a new wideout coach. Wouldn’t it be great to see Hines Ward come into that roll? Just wishful thinking, no rumors out there yet.
Along with these coaching changes, we already know about the long list of free agents, both restricted and unrestricted. With the Steelers already $14 million over the cap, who will be the casualties? Rumors are rampant with all the major sports outlets. According to the Post Gazette’s Ed Bouchette, last year’s “March Massacre” may be nothing compared to what happens this year. Everyone remembers the loss of Hines Ward, James Farrior and Aaron Smith. This year, it seems more veterans are on the way out or at least it appears they would have to be. It has been suggested that possibly James Harrison and Larry Foote would be among those to go based on salary and age.
Any time a team has to transition from the older guys to the younger ones, it is not easy on the team or the fans. The Steelers have been lucky enough to usually be able to maneuver the cap enough to hold onto the valued free agents. This year though, Kevin Colbert and Omar Kahn really have their work cut out for them. The Steelers have 6 restricted free agents and 18 unrestricted. The entire running back group except for Baron Batch, are all free agents, with Mendenhall being the only unrestricted. So far, it does not appear the team plans on using any of the franchise or transition tags to keep anyone. Many opinions have formed about which players the team needs to focus on. Keenan Lewis appears to be a priority. Ike Taylor needs someone else who can cover as well as him and he is not getting any younger either. Keeping Keenan would be beneficial to the future in more ways than one. What about Mike Wallace? He demanded a large amount of money then held out through the off season last year. Chances are, another team will still pay him the money he is looking for. Chances are even better that it won’t be Pittsburgh.
When the Steelers head into training camp this fall, there will be many new faces there and many beloved faces will be gone. The time has come for us, as fans, to say goodbye to many players we have loved over the years, just as we had to last year. Free agency begins March 12. Who will still be here when the smoke clears?
Jonathan Dwyer, Jeremy Kapinos, Steve McLendon, Isaac Redman, Stevenson Sylvester and Emmanuel Sanders.
Will Allen, Charlie Batch, Plaxico Burress, Larry Foote, Ramon Foster, Casey Hampton, Brandon Johnson, David Johnson, Byron Leftwich, Doug Legursky, Justin King, Keenan Lewis, Rashard Mendenhall, Ryan Mundy, Leonard Pope, Max Starks, Mike Wallace and Greg Warren.