Three hours into free agency, the Redskins had already made a major splash while the Steelers had yet to make a peep.
Yep, that sounds about right for the start of the NFL’s New Year.
Instead of celebrating a new beginning with the popping of champagne corks, the NFL rings it in with ‘Skins owner Daniel Snyder overpaying a free agent.
The Steelers, as usual, stood back during the frenzied start to free agency. That would have been the case even if they weren’t limited by the salary cap.
The Steelers, it seems, embraced this crazy notion awhile back that winning in March doesn’t necessarily translate into winning in December and January (September, October and November, for that matter, either).
That is not to say that the Steelers are simply shutting down shop in March. They have to try and re-sign a handful of their own free agents, and they might have to make a big decision in regard to wide receiver Mike Wallace.
Here are some thoughts and observations on free agency and how it affects the Steelers.
— Wide receivers commanded as much attention as any of the free agents, and it is hard to tell what that means for Wallace.
Pierre Garcon landed a five-year, $42 million deal, according to multiple reports, from the Redskins. The Bears traded for Brandon Marshall, and Vincent Jackson looks like he is on his way to Tampa Bay.
The Redskins overpaid Garcon, making you wonder what kind of deal Wallace will be seeking. But it’s also worth wondering what the market is going to be for a Pro Bowler with a lot of upside but one for which a team is going to have to surrender a first-round pick.
Look at a couple of the teams that seemed like potential suitors for Wallace.
The 49ers aren’t signing him after bringing Randy Moss aboard as their deep threat. The Patriots are also a longshot, in my opinion, to target Wallace.
Yes, they have the cap room and draft picks to pull it off, but they have to work out a long-term deal with wide receiver Wes Welker.
They probably have to do the same after next season with tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. Both are restricted free agents after 2012, and the Patriots can only sink so much money in their passing game, especially since they have to upgrade their leaky defense.
I say there is a 95 percent chance that Wallace is with the Steelers in 2012. The big question is whether he is with the Steelers long term.
— Cornerback William Gay is one of a handful of unrestricted free agents that wants to stay in Pittsburgh.
“They expressed interest that they wanted me back, which is good because I want to stay,” Gay told TribLive Radio Tuesday, shortly before the start of free agency. “I want to do everything that I can to stay and hopefully the Steelers are willing to do everything they can to keep me because I love competing with these guys.”
I put Gay in a similar category as wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery.
I think the Steelers have a good chance of re-signing him because of the mutual interest. But all it takes is one team to offer something that the Steelers are unable or unwilling to match for Gay to be gone.
— Ramon Foster, who is essentially an unrestricted free agent, is going to draw signficant interest outside of Pittsburgh.
Foster has been solid at right guard for two consecutive seasons and is versatile enough to also play tackle, and he won’t cost a team that wants to signs him more than money.
The Steelers, constrained as they were by the salary cap, only offered Foster an original (draft) pick tender. Since he went undrafted in 2009, a team doesn’t have to give the Steelers a draft pick as compensation if it signs Foster.
The Steelers figure to match any offer made to Foster unless it is outlandish. They have little choice given how thin they are at the position.
— Scott Brown