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Monday, June 29, 2009
Who's next in Pittsburgh?

Posted by's James Walker

After spending much of the offseason close to the salary cap, the Pittsburgh Steelers finally have some much-needed relief following a recent four-year contract extension with starting left tackle Max Starks. The agreement lifted the $8.451 million franchise tag off Starks and provided about $3 million in salary-cap space for this season.

In for the long haul?
Here is a look at Pittsburgh's key 2010 free agents:
Player Pos. Age
Heath Miller TE 26
Willie Parker RB 28
Ryan Clark S 29
Brett Keisel DE 30
Jeff Reed K 30
Casey Hampton NT 31

Now the question in Pittsburgh is, "Who's next?"

Most people are aware of the high-profile Steelers playing in the final year of their deals such as tight end Heath Miller, safety Ryan Clark, tailback Willie Parker and starting nose tackle Casey Hampton. The 2010 class also included Starks, receiver Hines Ward and Pro Bowl linebacker James Harrison until Pittsburgh took care of those players with long-term deals this offseason.

The first order of business for Pittsburgh likely is getting rookie Evander "Ziggy" Hood under contract before players report to training camp on July 31. Hood is the only unsigned draft pick left for the Steelers.

But once that part is complete, expect the Steelers to attempt to lock up at least one more key cog -- maybe Miller or Clark -- long-term before trying to make another title run.