The list of free agents after 2009 is a long one. According to the Post Gazette, under the current player’s union agreement, many can seek new contracts after the upcoming season including Casey Hampton, Brett Keisel, Ryan Clark, Willie Parker, Heath Miller, Jeff Reed, Max Starks, Willie Colon and Justin Hartwig.
That’s a long list, but not all of those players are “must-haves.” Actually, accounting for the players already resigned this off season, there are only two who the Steelers shouldn’t allow to get away just yet: Casey Hampton and Heath Miller.
Considering the number of teams that have recently switched to a 3-man front, the nose tackle position anchored by Hampton will be especially difficult to fill. And while the Steelers have an adequate backup in Chris Hoke, the defense would be dimished with out the presense of Big Snack. Hampton is a pro bowl player who excells at his job and demands a double-team each snap.
The tight end has seemingly been an under appreciated position for the Steelers, but don’t be fooled. Heath Miller is a vital cog in the offensive machine. He’s an outlet straight up the seem and must be accounted for in the red zone. And while the run game was substandard last season, can one imagine how poor it would have been sans Miller? Shudder to think.
It’s likely that the Steelers will be able to resign more than two of their free agents next season, but getting all of them is doubtful. However, Hampton and Miller are top priorities.