The days are getting longer and the snow is starting to melt almost as soon as it lays on the ground. All of this can mean just one thing that it’s getting time to dust off the old football part of the brain and start thinking about what the upcoming season will hold for Pittsburgh Steelers fans.
The team has made several moves so far during the free agency time period. Gone are running back Rashard Mendenhall, which I think is a good move for the team. Also gone are offensive lineman Willie Colon who had been plagued with injuries and was just to expensive to keep around any longer.
The two biggest losses includes the team releasing linebacker James Harrison who they felt was past his prime. Harrison was a hard charging player but in my opinion the leagues recent crackdown on hard hits really affected Harrison’s play that was built upon delivering punishing hits to opposing players.
Also gone is star wide receiver Mike Wallace. I’m glad the Steelers let him go because in my opinion he’s not as good as a lot of people think. Two years ago when he was a new face nobody really paid much attention to him but last year with him being the number one receiver on the team he got a lot of attention and didn’t rise to the challenge. A lot of time it looked like he wasn’t even trying on passes when he knew a big hit was coming if he caught the ball.
The team has so far re-signed offensive lineman Ramon Foster, linebacker Larry Foote and long snapper Greg Warren. The team also has decided to bring wide receiver Plaxico Burress back for one more year. I know with Wallace gone and Big Ben liking Burress the team felt the need to retain him but I just don’t see him making a big impact on the team’s performance with his best years far behind him.
The Steelers, who usually aren’t big players in the free agent market did pick up quarterback Bruce Gradkowski, who will do a lot of bench warming unless starter Ben Roethlisberger gets injured. With the arrival of Gradkowski it looks like injury prone current backup Bryon Leftwich’s days with the team are numbered.
As I write this the big question is whether the team will be able to find a way to retain cornerback Keenan Lewis who really stepped up his game last season. (Update: As I suspected starting corner Keenan Lewis won’t be playing for the Steelers. He has signed a contract to play for the New Orleans Saints.)
Feel free to comment on this posting with your own thoughts on the teams moves and whether they’ll improve on their very disappointing 8-8 record from last season.