Dec 16, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Mike Wallace (17) prior to the game against the Dallas Cowboys at Cowboys Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Looking at the Steelers' upcoming free agents

The offseason has started unusually early or the Pittsburgh Steelers, as now the attention turns to Kevin Colbert and the plan that he will have to construct next season’s team.

Before the draft and free agency begin, Colbert and company are going to have to decide on the current free agents on the Steelers’ roster. After an 8-8 season, some tough decisions are going to have to be made.

Nov 4, 2012; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants wide receiver Rueben Randle (82) is unable to catch a pass while defended by Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Keenan Lewis (23) in the third quarter during the game at Met Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: William Perlman/THE STAR-LEDGER via USA TODAY Sports

Here’s a quick look at those who are free agents:

Unrestricted: Will Allen, Charlie Batch, Plaxico Burress, Larry Foote, Ramon Foster, Casey Hampton, Brandon Johnson, David Johnson, Byron Leftwich, Doug Legursky, Justin King, Keenan Lewis, Rashard Mendenhall, Ryan Mundy, Leonard Pope, Max Starks, Mike Wallace, Greg Warren

Restricted: Jonathan Dwyer, Steve McLendon, Isaac Redman, Stevenson Sylvester, Emmanuel Sanders

At first glance there are a lot of tough decisions to be made with the unrestricted free agents. Only one backup quarterback will be back and there are some depth pieces like Allen, Legursky and Foster that need back. Initially I would say if you can bring Foote back cheap then do it, but it has to be a team-friendly contract.

With it being assumed that Wallace and Mendenhall won’t return, it makes Lewis the guy to watch.

Good young cornerbacks are hard to find and Lewis will get big money from someone, which means he will likely be in another uniform next season.

As for the restricted free agents, I have a hard time seeing someone throwing big money at any of the guys, putting the Steelers in a position to match. With that being said, I would expect all of the restricted guys back for next season.

Colbert has some very interesting decisions to make and how this Steelers team performs next season could very well be determined by what type of offseason the front office has.

That all begins with evaluating their current players and making tough choices when they need to be made.

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Tags: Keenan Lewis Larry Foote Mike Wallace Pittsburgh Steelers Rashard Mendenhall

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