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Steelers Free Agency 2013: Who Will Stay And Who Will Go

By Brandon Sweeney

After an 8-8 season, the Steelers know that they will have to answer some big questions this offseason. The first one being free agency. Who is going to stay and who is going to go. The Steelers have eighteen unrestricted free agents this year. A lot of them are players that have helped the Steelers be so successful in recent years. Names like: Larry Foote, Mike Wallace, Casey Hampton, Keenan Lewis, and Rashard Mendenhall. We are going to break down their key free agents and what kind of position this will put the Steelers in for the 2013 season.

Mike Wallace is the hot free agent in the NFL this year. As you may know, it seems that the Steelers will not be getting Wallace back under contract for the future. Wallace is ready to collect a paycheck of what he feels he is worth. The Steelers however, do not feel Wallace is worth what he wants. How do we know this?

When receiver Antonio Brown got a new deal over Mike Wallace before the start of the 2012 season, while Wallace was holding out for a new deal, seemed to have caused tension in the locker room for the Steelers receivers when Wallace returned for the regular season.

Rumors say that the Miami Dolphins are showing high interest in Mike Wallace and are looking to add him to the team to give second year quarterback, Ryan Tannehill, a deep threat option. I believe the Steelers have made their piece with losing Wallace, but how will they replace him? They will most likely look for a receiver or two in the NFL Draft.

Foote has been a solid role player for the Pittsburgh Steelers for a decade. If you remember, Foote left the Steelers in 2009 to play for his hometown, the Detroit Lions. After that season was over, Foote had no desire to continue his career in Detroit.

He missed his place on the Steelers roster. Reports have been released that the Steelers and Foote have been talking on a new deal. Foote is now heading into his twelfth season in the league, however, he is coming off one of his best seasons as a pro. How long can he keep it up if he stays with the black and gold?

Lewis, who ironically was friends with Mike Wallace growing up, is also going to be a free agent. When the season ended, reports said that Lewis should be Steelers’ first priority of the offseason.

However, even with the Steelers getting under the salary cap by restructuing a number of players’ contracts, the Steelers did not re-sign Lewis. Now after signing cornerback William Gay after being released by the Cardinals after one season, Lewis may not be as a high priority as expected. It looks that they will let Lewis test the market before giving him an offer as the Steelers do often.

Think back to 2010 when the Steelers let safety Ryan Clark test the market before resigning him as a Steeler. Lewis had a very productive 2012 season. However, with Gay back, they may just look for another corner in the draft to make up for the talent.

Lastly, will the Steelers bring back Mendenhall? The five year pro has had an up and down career as far as productivity. He has only had two, one thousand yard rushing seasons in the league. Injuries do have a big role in this, but fumbles do as well. Mendenhall fumbled the ball three times on only fifty-one carries last season. He may be on the boarder of a bust in a lot of people’s eyes.

He also may be the blame of the Steelers’ lack of a rushing attack over the past couple years. It does not seem that the Steelers will be bringing him back, but how will they answer these problems? In Addition, running back Chris Rainey was released from the Steelers the day he allegedly assaulted his girlfriend. The Steelers will need to re-build this running attack to take pressure off of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

March 12th kicks off the start of free agency around the NFL. It will be interesting to see how many players the Steelers will get back for the future. Will the Steelers get a big free agent this year? Knowing the Steelers organization don’t expect it. They love building through the draft. However, they have found some gems in free agency in the past. For example: James Farrior, Ryan Clark, Mewelde Moore, Charlie Batch, and Shaun Suisham. We are getting closer to seeing our 2013 Pittsburgh Steelers.

Matt Loede has been in the sports media for over 16 years, with experience covering the MLB, NBA, and NFL. On Sunday’s during football season, you can hear Matt on national networks like Fox Sports Radio, Associated Press, and others. Born and raised in Cleveland Ohio, Matt studies and talks football inside and out, and is anxious to share his thoughts and comments with readers on a daily basis.



  1. Pingback: Steelers Brace For A Busy Time In Free Agency - Unofficial Network

  2. Dave B.

    March 7, 2013 at 7:19 am

    A couple observations : First , the Steelers need to continue the youth movement . Bottom line , they need to get younger . Guys like Casey Hampton need to go bye bye . A great player for alot of years but the time to move on has came . Second , they finally found an up and coming cornerback in Keenan Lewis . They need to resign him . As far as losing Mike Wallace , I say good riddance to bad rubbish . The guy was was a one trick pony that was more concerned about his paycheck than winning football games .

    • Kevin R

      March 7, 2013 at 10:54 am

      I agree with everything u said except resigning Lewis. He’s no playmakers but wants playmaker money. After only one season which he didn’t even lead the team in interceptions i would offer him a contract but not break the bank. Its a reason he was about to be cut the season before this one. Im not completely sold just yet

  3. Kevin R

    March 7, 2013 at 10:44 am

    The youth movement is a must. Player like Hampton maybe Harrison or Polamalu need to be released. Im not one that believes we should break the bank for Kenan Lewis because although he had a great year I think Polamalu on a injured ridden year led the team in interception. Lewis isn’t a play maker. I think we need to build the offense up in the draft with playmakers at Receiver first then Running Back second round. The league is now showing us that productive offenses are more successful then great defenses. We’ve been ranked number 1 on defense the past two years with a one and done and no playoff appearance at all last season. Draft offense early and defense late. Keep making cap room and part ways with Wallace Lewis Hampton may and even James Harrison

  4. Kevin R

    March 7, 2013 at 10:50 am

    The steelers free agent and draft concerns should be based around Big Ben. We could build a solid young defense but a power house offense. Give Ben a big target receiver and a playmaking running Back. The line should be solid if healthy. I also think they should address the Willie Colon situation in Free Agency. (YANDAFROM THE RAVENS)

  5. DrGeorge

    March 7, 2013 at 2:45 pm

    This is clearly a year of transition for Pittsburgh, and we’ve discussed most of these situations here before. I’m surprised the article didn’t mention the situation at backup QB. Given the Steelers many needs, the team may have to retain one of their aging veterans (Batch or Leftwich) rather than bear the cost of replacing both. Likewise, Polamalu, Foote, and K. Lewis will probably be back because needs elsewhere are so great. We cannot afford to replace all of our aging veterans and probably can’t find equivalent talent for all of them, anyway.

    Although we re-signed Wm. Gay and will probably retain Lewis, neither is a top tier CB, and that position will remain a priority in the draft, along with the defensive line. We emphasized offense in the last two drafts; it’s time to give LeBeau the talent he needs. Our defensive statistics are misleading because the stats focus on yardage. Against the run and the pass the Steelers’ D is average in short yardage and red zone situations. Our mediocrity also shows up in our lack of turnovers and sacks against better teams and ultimately in our record. The D must be rebuilt to suit the pass-happy NFL rules, or we will face another 8-8 season in 2013.

  6. Steve K

    March 7, 2013 at 4:27 pm

    This is a big off season for the Steelers. Good article. Remember Steeler Nation we don’t rebuild we just reload. No need to panic the Steelers always have a plan

  7. Brandon Sweeney

    March 7, 2013 at 5:54 pm

    Thanks for the comments guys! There will be more articles to come by me on Steelers Gab. If you have Twitter, follow me @ProFballHotline!

  8. DS

    March 7, 2013 at 6:07 pm

    We resigned William Gay???? Unbelivable! I stand by my end of season comments that Tomlin should be shown the door. Looks like more of the same going forward to me at this point.

    • Jalen

      March 7, 2013 at 9:38 pm

      I couldn’t agree more and to doctor George, although I agree we need to keep the defense in mind with the draft ( edge rusher more important than corner or d line… We invested enough high round picks the past couple of years in d line and corner)…WE NEED A RED ZONE WEAPON. I don’t care how we get one, first through seventh round but we need a 6’3″ or bigger mobile ATHLETE!

  9. George H

    March 7, 2013 at 10:08 pm

    Why aren’t my comments posting

    • Jalen

      March 7, 2013 at 10:34 pm

      That posted.

      • George H

        March 8, 2013 at 10:19 am

        Yea I can see that. I’ve tried posting long write ups on here a bunch of times that wouldn’t appear. Has that ever happened to anyone else?

  10. Brandon Sweeney

    March 8, 2013 at 10:41 pm

    Hey guys, I just made a Facebook page for all of you to go and talk to me! Like the page because there will be more Steelers articles shortly! All you need to do is click my name on THIS comment, and it will take you right to the page! Rock out STEELER NATION!

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