Should the Steelers give Hampton, 32, a long-term contract? Pittsburgh also could let Hampton go into free agency or give him a one-year franchise tag, which would make him one of the NFL's highest-paid nose tackles in 2010.
Here is analysis on the situation from Scouts Inc.'s Matt Williamson:
“I think Hampton will get franchised for a couple reasons. First off, the Steelers should view themselves as a contender. They're not a rebuilding team. They didn't make the playoffs, but they won the Super Bowl a year ago. They're still very good, and you can't afford to break in a new nose tackle in a 3-4 defense. It's such a position in demand, and it's so important for that scheme that you can't just roll the dice and hope to get a rookie in there. There isn't somebody on the roster who is his heir apparent. Ideally, that would be a great thing to pick up on draft day this year and groom him for a year while Hampton is franchised and will become a free agent again .... So you either let him walk and take your chances at an extremely difficult position to replace. Or you keep Hampton, probably address other needs, take a shot at the title again and worry about it a year from now. That's the approach I think they'll take, and I think that's a smart move.”