Typically as training camp gets into the second and third week the Pittsburgh Steelers start looking at extensions and other roster moves. Contrary to normal years the Steelers could make a couple of splashes with those moves in 2013.
Right now there are three young players, who will be free agents after the season, that could be candidates for extensions. Those three are wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders, linebacker Jason Worilds and defensive end Ziggy Hood.
The Steelers also have two of their running backs on one year tender deals in 2013. Those two are Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman, who will both become unrestricted free agents following the season.
Last season there was a lot of talk about extending wide receiver Mike Wallace. That deal never worked out and after the 2012 season he bolted to the Miami Dolphins for more money. If the Steelers don’t lock up any of these players they could do the same during the 2014 off-season.
If Sanders is willing to sign an extension now would be a good time to go about it. He is entering his first year as a starter, but given his foot injuries in the past and only being a slot receiver to this point his value isn’t significantly high at this point.
That is the same for Hood and Worilds, who are still trying to prove that they belong in a starting line-up in the NFL.
That said, there is a good chance all three are not, at least right now, looking for long-term deals. They would be better off increasing their value with good seasons in 2013 and then looking for a better deal in the off-season.
For the Steelers, though, now would be the time to lock these players up if they so choose. However, the deals would have to be very team friendly in case these three never meet the expectations that have been set for them.
As for Dwyer and Redman an extension for one could be a possibility. They are currently competing with rookie Le’Veon Bell for the starting running back job, but one of the two will be his primary back-up and if either plays very well this off-season they could form a one-two punch with Bell.
Locking up one of these backs could be a good move before both enter free agency in the off-season; especially with both looking poised to have very good seasons.
Luckily, though, for the Steelers none of these players look like they are going to make their contract a big deal. As Sanders told Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:
“If I am here, I am here. If I am not, I’m not,” Sanders said. “I am not really worried about the business side of it. This is the one year that I have right now and I want to win a Super Bowl.”
“It is like every other season, and I am honest when I tell you this,” he said. “I really don’t think about the contract.”
Another interesting note is that, according to Kaboly, Casey Hampton’s locker is still unoccupied and his name plate, above the locker, still intact. Perhaps it is just a way of remembering one of the team’s great defenders, but it could be more than that.
Steve McLendon said he talks to Casey Hampton all the time and the former #Steelers NT still expects to play somewhere this year
— Mark Kaboly (@MarkKaboly_Trib) May 28, 2013
According to multiple reports Hampton is working out in Texas this off-season. If he is still hoping to play somewhere in the NFL during the 2013 season perhaps he could return to the Steelers for one more season.
Especially with Alameda Ta’amu on the PUP list and Hebron Fangupo as the only back-ups at nose tackle; both of whom have combined to play in one regular season NFL game and are very inexperienced.
Of course, with Steve McLendon ready to take over as the starting nose tackle, Hampton would have to be willing to accept a role as the back-up. That may not be something he is willing to do, but if he changes his mind it seems as though the Steelers have a spot for him.