As the 2015 season is now in the rearview mirror for the Pittsburgh Steelers, it’s time to start looking ahead to 2016. On March 9th, all 2015 contracts set to expire will do so making those players free agents.
Today I’m looking at the Steelers’ free agents on the offensive line.
G Ramon Foster (Unrestricted Free Agent) – One of the favorites of Steelers Nation, Foster is now 30 years old and he’s already accomplished more than I think most would have thought. The former undrafted rookie free agent out of Tennessee was believed to be nothing more than a backup but he turned himself into a starter at left guard. Dating back to 2011, Foster has never started fewer than 14 games in a season proving his durability has long been one of his greatest assets.
The Steelers have to decide what future they see for Foster. There’s no question Offensive Coordinator Todd Haley wants a more athletic guy at left guard. The Steelers’ O-line was pretty good this year especially when you consider they were without Maurkice Pouncey and Kelvin Beachum for the majority of the season. But, Foster’s inability to be a guard who could pull on a regular basis hurt the running game and Haley knows that another guard paired with David DeCastro makes the running game that much more effective.
Prediction: My gut feeling is that the Steelers really want to upgrade here and unless Foster is OK with being a reserve I think he moves on.
T Kelvin Beachum (Unrestricted Free Agent) – A former seventh rounder, Beachum far exceeded anything the Steelers thought he would be capable of doing. So solid was Beachum that he was likely looking at a very nice payday had he been able to stay healthy all season. Left tackles with his track record tend to do very well financially on the open market. But then came the ACL tear and there went the big contract. The Steelers, or someone else may still offer Beachum a pretty good deal but I’m thinking that won’t be the case.
Coming back from this injury is different for every player so therefore the risk is different as well. ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, who covers the Steelers exclusively, suggested Beachum will perhaps get a one-year “prove it” type of deal and I agree. I think the Steelers will let him test the waters but they seem confident enough with Alejandro Villanueva that if Beachum leaves they’ll be OK.
One other question facing Beachum and the Steelers is whether or not they want him to play guard. Is that something he would do knowing it would likely mean less money?
Prediction: I think someone overpays for Beachum.
C Doug Legursky (Unrestricted Free Agent) – The 29-year old was brought in as insurance after Maurkice Pouncey went down. The Steelers had to have someone with experience behind Cody Wallace and Legursky fit the bill.
Prediction: I’ve been told the Steelers really like B.J. Finney who signed as a rookie free agent in 2015. I think he’s in line to be a replacement for Pouncey so that means Legursky is back on the market.