Steelers Free Agency Outlook (Offense)
Key Free Agents (UFA's): Jerricho Cotchery, Max Starks, Trai Essex, Mewelde Moore, Charlie Batch, Byron Leftwich, Dennis Dixon
Area of Needs: No. 3/No. 4 wide receiver, Backup quarterback, Guard, Offensive Line depth
Buzz: The Pittsburgh Steelers enter free agency with little to no money to spend.
1. Ben Roethlisberger
*Reserve/Futures Contract: Jerrod Johnson, Troy Smith
UFA'S: Byron Leftwich, Charlie Batch, Dennis Dixon
Position Breakdown: The Steelers are hopeful to bring back Byron Leftwich as the team's No. 2 quarterback and the team would also like to retain Charlie Batch for depth. Jerrod Johnson and Troy Smith will be given opportunities to battle for the No. 3 quarterback job.
The Steelers will not bring back Dennis Dixon.
1. Peyton Manning
2. Alex Smith (SF)
3. Jason Campbell (OAK)
4. Matt Flynn (GB)
5. Kyle Orton (KC)
Other Free Agent Quarterbacks: Vince Young (PHI), Charlie Whitehurst (SEA), David Garrard (FA), Byron Leftwich (PIT), Charlie Batch (PIT), Dennis Dixon (PIT), Chris Redman (ATL), Derek Anderson (CAR), Caleb Hanie (CHI), Josh McCown (CHI), Shaun Hill (DET), Drew Stanton (DET), Brady Quinn (DEN), Chad Pennington (FA), Jake Delhomme (HOU), Jeff Garcia (HOU), Dan Orlovsky (IND), Luke McCown (JAC), JP Losman (MIA), Sage Rosenfels (MIA), David Carr (NYG), Mark Brunell (NYJ), Kevin O'Connell (NYJ), Kyle Boller (OAK), Kellen Clemens (STL), A.J. Feeley (STL), Josh Johnson (TB)
Running Backs (5)
1. Rashard Mendenhall
2. Jonathan Dwyer
3. John Clay
4. Baron Batch
5. Chad Spann
UFA's: Mewelde Moore
Exclusive Rights Free Agent: Isaac Redman
Position Breakdown: Coming off ACL surgery, Running back Rashard Mendenhall will enter the 2012 season on the pup list and team officials believe he won't be fully healthy until November or December at the earliest.
Isaac Redman who received an exclusive rights tender, is currently penciled in as the team's starting running back going into the season. The team is comfortable with Redman as the team's starter but are expected to look around at bargain options in free agency.
Redman, 27, rushed for 479 yards, averaging 4.4 yards per game in 2011. When given a lead role, he performed extremely well in limited opportunites, rushing for 121 yards on 17 carries in the team's playoff loss to Denver and had 92 yards on 19 carries in the regular season finale against Cleveland when Mendenhall was lost for the season.
How Redman handles a starters role over the course of a season will be an intriguing situation to watch. He had less than 10 carries in 13 of 16 games last season.
-- The Steelers are very intrigued by the young depth in the system that includes Jonathan Dwyer, Baron Batch and John Clay.
Jonathan Dwyer is a player the Steelers feel could be a big factor in running game, handling 8 to 10 carries a game as the primary backup behind Redman, if he comes into the 2012 season with his head straight.
The most intriguing player though might be Baron Batch who missed last season due to a torn ACL. Batch was having a tremendous camp before his injury and has the tools and football IQ to be a complete third down back.
He excels catching out of the back field and in blocking situations. Todd Haley is an offensive coordinator who likes to use his running backs in the passing game which could see Batch having a vital part in the offense.
FREE AGENCY OUTLOOK
Despite indicating they are comfortable with their running back situation, could the Steelers be a surprise player in the running back market? There have been strong indications since the scouting combine,