Steelers' offensive front may see familiar faces leave
The Steelers' offensive line wasn't exactly an impenetrable front during a season in which it was ridiculed for inconsistency and sometimes decimated by injuries.
Now, it's back where it started at the end of last season. Yet it appears the offensive line will be in better shape when the team reconvenes for offseason training activities and minicamp.
Again, Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey will be the anchor of the offensive line in 2013. And the right side likely will consist of guard David DeCastro and tackle Marcus Gilbert, both of whom missed significant time this season with injuries.
Oddly, the only linemen to make all 16 starts this season could be shopping for new teams when the free agent market opens up. Guard Ramon Foster and tackle Max Starks aren't considered priorities for a team that will be about $12 million over the salary cap.
Still, Foster and Starks are hoping to be a part of an offensive line that faced inordinate adversity throughout the season, particularly via injuries — including Pouncey and Willie Colon, who moved from tackle to guard this season. Also, it incorporated three rookies — DeCastro, tackle Mike Adams and guard Kelvin Beachum — mostly out of necessity.
On Sunday, guard John Malecki was pressed into duty after spending much of the season on the practice squad. Foster had to man right tackle for the first time in his career after Beachum sustained a concussion when blindsided by Cleveland defensive tackle Phil Taylor.
Foster, of course, creates an interesting dilemma for general manager Kevin Colbert. Are the Steelers willing to risk losing perhaps their most durable offensive lineman, who made 31 starts the past two seasons? If so, it will signal a level of confidence in the oft-injured Colon, who signed a five-year deal in 2011 but missed every game except one in 2010 and 2011.
Colon's return, coupled with a healthy DeCastro, Gilbert and Adams, could make Foster expendable.
“I don't know how it's going to work out,” said Foster, who made $1.2 million this season. “I guess I'll really get to see the real business side of the NFL. It's really a toss-up whether I'll be here or somewhere else.
“I want to go somewhere where I'll be appreciated. I played a lot and started a lot. I'll see where it goes when free agency opens up whether I get a contract or not.
“Everybody wants a long-term contract, but considering they have a first-rounder in David (DeCastro) and Willie just got paid, it's a matter of if I'm that valuable. Willie is a special guy, so I can't see him not coming back next year.”
Foster, whose agent Joel Segal will aggressively seek the highest bidder, said he would rather the process play out quickly, especially if he returns.
“We don't want a whole lot of questions about this offensive line during the offseason about what we can and cannot do,” Foster said. “We needed to establish ourselves for next year.”
Ralph N. Paulk is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-320-7923
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers’ defense on pace for fewest sacks in 16-game season
- Starkey: Century mark beckons for Ben
- Steelers notebook: No-huddle gets limited use vs. Texans
- Nearing season’s midpoint, Steelers still have issues to sort out
- Steelers’ Pouncey, brother won’t be charged in July fracas
- Steelers film session: Watt kept under control
- Steelers’ defense rebounds after shaky 1st quarter, forces Texans into mistakes
- Steelers lookahead: Colts QB Luck becoming one of NFL’s elite
- Steelers use 3 late first-half TDs to stun Texans
- Steelers looking for Spence to step up game at inside linebacker
- Snapshot in time: Comparing Cowher, Tomlin drafts