Clark, Parker, others become UFAs

Free agency is here and the Steelers have been typically silent so far. Casey Hampton has been re-signed and Jeff Reed has been franchise tagged, but a handfull of other Steeler players are now on the open market. Jump it for a list of the UFAs and some analysis.

Here’s your list of players who the Steelers did not reach terms with prior to midnight yesterday, thus making them unrestricted free agents:

  • Ryan Clark, S
  • Willie Parker, RB
  • Deshea Townsend, CB
  • Tyrone Carter, S
  • Charlie Batch, QB
  • Carey Davis, HB
  • Darnell Stapleton, OL
  • Nick Eason, DE
  • Travis Kirschke, DE
  • Joey Galloway, WR
  • Rocky Boiman, LB

A lot of those are just “meh” names, but I think there are obviously a few areas of concern here. If Clark, Townsend, and Carter all leave, there’s several big time voids in the secondary. At this point, Troy Polamalu probably can’t be counted on to play 16 games every years and Clark/Carter were basically the starting safeties last year. As underwhelming as they were, I’m not exactly comfortable handing the reigns over to Ryan Mundy and a draft pick if Polamalu gets hurt. Clark/P Townsend was also a starting cornerback by the end of the year last season.

There’s also going to be a problem with defensive line depth. Both Eason and Kirschke saw a lot of playing time last year and the Steelers defensive front isn’t getting any younger. The Steelers will need to sign some capable lineman if these two leave via free agency as well.

As for the other possible departures, I’m not too worked up about any. Batch is a good guy to have around, but how much more can  he really teach somebody like Roethlisberger? At this point, he’s just blocking the development of Dennis Dixon anyway.

I’ll be sad to see Willie Parker leave, but his time in Pittsburgh is over. When healthy, he’s still got the speed to fill a solid role on a team in the NFL and I hope he finds that place