The Pittsburgh Steelers have started free agency exactly how we all thought they would by re-signing their own players while sprinkling in a couple of other teams veteran free agents. Expected signings were ILB Larry Foote and LS Greg Warren, as well as tendering RB Jonathan Dwyer, who has already signed, WR Emmanuel Sanders, NT Steve McLendon and RB Isaac Redman. Slight surprises were the re-signings of G Ramon Foster and WR Plaxico Burress while not tendering ILB Stevenson Sylvester was also unexpected. As far as other free agents the team brought in former CB William Gay and veteran QB Bruce Gradkowski.
As far as players lost, the Steelers have long been expected to not even try to bring back WR Mike Wallace, now with the Miami Dolphins, or RB Rashard Mendenhall, now with the Arizona Cardinals. And let’s not forget to mention the cuts of LB James Harrison and G Willie Colon to create cap space.
Whether or not you agree or disagree with the moves that have already occurred there is one player most of us are looking out for right now and that is CB Keenan Lewis.
There has been a ton of publicity surrounding the release of James Harrison, and rightly so, considering what he has done for the organization and the attitude he brings to the field. With all the talk about Harrison, cutting Colon, watching Wallace leave etc., I feel like people have forgotten that Lewis is still out there as a free agent.
Personally I feel like no matter what the Steelers have done or will do in free agency, they have to find a way to re-sign Keenan Lewis. It would be a big loss in my opinion to develop a guy, have him finally turn into the player you thought he would become, and then watch him go help another team because we can’t afford him. Now if Lewis is asking to be the highest paid defender in NFL history that’s one thing but barring that, there really is no reason the Steelers can’t re-sign him.
The only rationalization that I can see the Steelers using is that they still have Ike Taylor on one side and Cortez Allen who is waiting to step up as the starter if Lewis does not come back. I really like Allen and I do think he is a starter in waiting but that does not mean the team can afford to just let Lewis walk. What happens when the Steelers decide to cut Ike Taylor next year or the year after that? If they let Lewis go then they are just betting on the combination of Curtis Brown and Cortez Allen to be the future. Allen has shown potential in a few games and Brown can still develop but why not keep Lewis and be set?
The Steelers have been burned before when they allowed Bryant McFadden to leave in free agency because they thought William Gay could just step in as the starter and we all know how that situation played out.
Let me say that if Keenan Lewis does indeed sign with another team I won’t act like the sky is falling in Pittsburgh however, that doesn’t mean that his departure isn’t a big loss. If he leaves that doesn’t make the Steelers a bad football team, but that doesn’t mean the Steelers should just underestimate his worth to the defense.
However the rest of free agency plays out for the Steelers here’s hoping that Keenan Lewis ultimately re-signs with the team.
Free agent information from Espn.com.