´ Steel Curtain Rising: Steelers Free Agent Focus: Unrestricted Free Agents, Part II

What position(s) should be the Steelers highest priorities in the draft?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Steelers Free Agent Focus: Unrestricted Free Agents, Part II

Lock out or no, free agency will come to the Steelers at some point. Part I covered the first group of Steelers 2011 Unrestricted Free Agents, and today we look at the rest:

William Gay

– Joined the Steelers as a fifth round pick in 2007 and saw action in all 16 games as a rookie. For his sophomore encore, Gay started 4 games and then split time with Bryant McFadden. He moved into the starting role in 2009, and struggled mightily, but bounced back in 2010, perhaps making the play of the game in the AFC Championship against the Jets.

Cutting to the Chase on William Gay: Playing as a third corner, William Gay recorded two sacks and defensed more passes in 2010 than 2009. Budding into a number 3 corner is plenty of an accomplishment for a 5th round pick.
  • NFL teams need a good 3rd corners and William Gay should be that man for the Steelers.

Keyaron Fox – Joined the Steelers in 2008 as an unrestricted free agent, and led the team in special teams tackles. In 2009, he started three games for Lawrence Timmons and spelled him for long stretches at other points, playing quite well. Fox saw far less playing time in 2010, largely due to the return of Larry Foote

Cutting to the Chase on Keyron Fox: In 2009 Fox looked to be growing into a strong number 3 inside linebacker. After Super Bowl XLV, Fox’s idiotic penalty, as the special teams captain, makes him emblematic of a look emblematic of a special teams unit that, while it improved, could not transform itself into a bankable asset.

  • Word is that Fox will not be back. Perhaps not an altogether wise decision, but certainly an understandable one.

Anthony Madison – Joined the Steelers as an undrafted rookie free agent in 2006 and worked himself into a special teams demand. After signing him to a 7 figure deal in 2009, the Steelers cut him and, as John Harris predicted, rued the day. They got him back and in 2010 Madison did double duty as a dime back.

Cutting to the Chase on Anthony Madison: As a corner Madison will never strike fear into the hearts of opposing quatertbacks. Nonetheless, his one sack and interception show that he is more than just a body out there, and he continues to excel on special teams. Versatility is a virtue.

  • The Steelers tried life without Anthony Madison once and lived to regret it. Hopefully they learned their lesson.

Trai Essex – Joined the Steelers as a third round pick in 2005, and has played in all four exterior line positions, and did some double duty in 2010 at tight end. Nonetheless, Essex has never managed to nail down a starting job.

Cutting to the Chase on Trai Essex: You expect a third round pick to develop into a starter, and in that sense Essex is a failure. But such a measure proves to be too narrow to fairly evaluate Essex. Essex is a good number 6 lineman, and we repeat, versatility is a virtue.

  • Essex will not get offered a ton of money, and the Steelers will probably get him back.

Mewelde Moore – With little fanfare the Steelers signed Moore as an unrestricted free agent from Minnesota in 2008. After being the unsung hero of the Steelers Super Bowl run in 2008, Moore saw a drop off in his play in 2009. His numbers continued to drop in 2010

Cutting to the Chase on Mewelde Moore: The drop off in Moore’s rushing and passing numbers is a little deceptive. Some of it had to do with Isaac Redman’s emergence, and Moore did make some key third down conversions.

  • Moore is not going to command a fortune, regardless of what happens with the CBA, and he could be a very cost-effective investment for the Steelers.

Willie Colon – Joined the team as a sixth round pick in 2006 and even prior to Bill Cowher’s departure the coaches wanted to work him into the starting line up. He beat out Max Starks for the starting job in 2007 and held that job down through 2009. Disaster struck in the 2010 off season, forcing Colon sit out the year with a Achilles tendon injury.

Cutting to the Chase on Willie Colon: Maurkice Pouncey would have unseated Colon as the Steelers best offensive lineman had Colon played. Despite repeated denials from the coaches, rumors continue to circulate that Colon’s natural position is guard. The Steelers would like to keep Colon, but his agent doubts that is possible.

That wraps up Steel Curtain Risings' Steelers Free Agent Focus on unrestricted free agents. Check back for a quick look at the Steelers restricted free agents. Coming to a lockout near you.

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