Steelers top priorities include re-signing Hampton, Reed and Clark
The Pittsburgh Steelers top priority heading into the off-season is Casey Hampton but according to multiple team sources, the organization has also tabbed kicker Jeff Reed and safety Ryan Clark as priorities.
The Steelers will initiate talks with Hampton following the Senior Bowl with talks expected to be focused on a three-to-four year front loaded deal.
Meanwhile, there continues to be mixed signals on whether the Steelers will place the franchise tag on Casey Hampton.
Word out of Casey Hampton’s camp is that the Steelers have told Hampton that they won’t franchise Hampton out of respect for him. Hampton has indicated he will hold out but the Steelers could be prepared to roll the dice as it would be difficult to for Hampton to pass up one a paycheck with a 2011 strike looking likely.
Hampton is certain to test the market if the Steelers opt not to franchise him.
*Jeff Reed returning to Pittsburgh is looking more likely. Despite his off the field antics, Pittsburgh is willing to place the transition or franchise tag on him.
The surprise of the group is Ryan Clark who struggled without Troy Polamalu this season. The Steelers will try to re-sign Clark, multiple team sources tell me.
Clark, 30, made $1.75 million in 2009.
The Steelers plan is to bring back Clark and let safety Ryan Mundy, Keenan Lewis or a potential high draft pick develop for a year or two.
Therefore, Pittsburgh’s focus in free agency will go towards a veteran cornerback.
2009 3rd round pick Keenan Lewis has been informed that he will be worked in at safety along with cornerback during off-season drills. Many scouts have felt Lewis would end up being a safety at the NFL level.