AFC North: Louis Delmas

Free-agency primer: Steelers

March, 7, 2014
Mar 7
11:00
AM ET
» AFC Free-Agency Primer: East | West | North | South » NFC: East | West | North | South

 
Key free agents: WR Emmanuel Sanders, DE Ziggy Hood, WR Jerricho Cotchery, DE Al Woods, DE Brett Keisel, S Ryan Clark, RB Jonathan Dwyer, C Fernando Velasco, OT Guy Whimper, C/G Cody Wallace, TE David Johnson, LB Stevenson Sylvester.

Where they stand: General manager Kevin Colbert has said the Steelers may be more active in free agency than in recent years, but don’t expect their philosophy to fundamentally change. The Steelers will focus on their own players and are likely to sit out the first wave of free agency and target midlevel free agents after the marquee names have signed with other teams. Colbert hinted that the Steelers could try to land a potential starter via free agency, and they could use immediate help as well as depth at just about any position on defense. Nothing would help the Steelers more than if they could sign a free agent who will make an impact like Ryan Clark (2006) or James Farrior (2002) did, though they would have to splurge to get a free agent the caliber of Farrior.

What to expect: Wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders, the team's top free agent, is going to command more money than the Steelers are willing to pay. He will almost certainly sign elsewhere, though look for veteran Jerricho Cotchery to re-sign with the team after catching 10 touchdown passes last season. Defensive end Ziggy Hood is likely to sign elsewhere, making it imperative that the Steelers bring back Al Woods. They could also re-sign Brett Keisel for one more season if the two sides can find common ground on compensation. The Steelers have a good chance of signing most of their free agents with the exceptions of Sanders and Hood, and that is how they will add depth to their offensive line. Free agents they could target include former Seahawks defensive end Red Bryant, Dolphins defensive tackle Paul Soliai and 49ers cornerback Tarell Brown. The Steelers met with former Lions safety Louis Delmas last month, but his knee issues may be too much of a red flag for them, and they have since re-signed veteran Will Allen.

Antonio Brown focused on winning

February, 18, 2014
Feb 18
8:00
AM ET
Steel City wake-up: morning links

Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown made the rounds Monday at ESPN's campus in Bristol, Conn., and his response to one of the many questions he was asked should please coach Mike Tomlin.

Wallace
Brown
Brown caught 101 passes for a team-record 1,499 yards last season, emerging as the Steelers' No. 1 receiver following the departure of Mike Wallace. He made the Pro Bowl as a wide receiver and a punt returner and when asked what he has to do to take the next step and become a superstar, Brown referenced numbers in a sense.

Just not ones from an individual standpoint.

“First off I’ve got to help us win. If you’re not winning games I’m not doing my job,” Brown said on ESPN's "NFL Live." "So whatever it takes as far as helping the team win and making sure I’m on my game and bringing young guys along with my leadership role that’s going to be key for 2014.”

Who starts opposite Brown next season is one of the bigger questions facing the Steelers. Emmanuel Sanders, who filled that role last season, will be an unrestricted free agent on March 11, and it looks increasingly like the fourth-year veteran will sign elsewhere.

When asked about the importance of the Steelers re-signing Sanders, Brown said, “It’s going to be key, and if that’s not the case we’ve got to have guys step up, Markus Wheaton and other guys in that locker room have to step up and allow us an opportunity to still excel in the passing game.”

The Steelers met with free-agent safety Louis Delmas Monday at their practice facility, and he is an intriguing name given their need to get younger in the secondary and Delmas' body of work in Detroit as well as his reputation as a big hitter.

Delmas, a second-round draft pick in 2009, started all five seasons he was in Detroit but his knees are already a concern -- something that could be a red flag to the Steelers. Delmas started all 16 games last season, but according to ESPN.com Lions reporter Michael Rothstein his knee issues were such that Delmas rarely practiced during the regular season.

Here is what Rothstein wrote about Delmas after the Lions released him last week in what appeared to be a cost-cutting move.

Steelers.com’s Bob Labriola talked to former Steelers offensive lineman Tunch Ilkin about new offensive line coach Mike Munchak. Ilkin, now a color analyst for Steelers’ radio broadcasts, remembers Munchak from their playing days, and he had nothing but good things to say about one of the newest members of Tomlin’s staff.

Around the AFC North…
  • ESPN.com Ravens reporter Jamison Hensley looks at the last six months for running back Ray Rice, which have been eventful for mostly the wrong reasons.
  • ESPN.com Browns reporter Pat McManamon writes about the optimism surrounding Cleveland following the promotion of Ray Farmer to general manager.
  • ESPN.com Bengals reporter Coley Harvey says the team is unlikely to use a franchise tag on one of its impending free agents after tagging defensive end Michael Johnson last year.

Louis Delmas visits Steelers

February, 17, 2014
Feb 17
4:35
PM ET
PITTSBURGH -- The Steelers are not expected to be major players in free agency.

But they are taking an early look at one of the top safeties on the open market.

Delmas
Former Detroit Lions free safety Louis Delmas visited the Steelers’ practice facility on Monday, a source confirmed to ESPN.com, and the fifth-year veteran is free to sign with any team since he was released last week.

The Lions parted ways with Delmas, 26, after he started all 16 games last season and intercepted three passes while recording a pair of sacks. Detroit released Delmas and wide receiver Nate Burleson last Thursday in moves that created flexibility under the salary cap.

Delmas, known as a big hitter, had signed a two-year, $9.5 million contract prior to last season.

The biggest question the Steelers probably have with Delmas is how he checks out medically. The 2009 second-round draft pick has battled knee problems, and health issues last season precluded Delmas from practicing much during the season.

The Steelers need to get younger in the secondary, and they are not likely to re-sign 12th-year veteran Ryan Clark, who has started the last eight seasons at free safety.

The Steelers took Shamarko Thomas in the fourth round of the 2013 NFL draft but he projects as a strong safety and is likely the eventual successor to eight-time Pro Bowler Troy Polamalu.

Players who have been released are free to sign with a new team at any time. Players who will be unrestricted free agents at the start of the NFL’s new year have to wait until March 11 to sign with a new team.

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