After losing defensive linemen Al Woods and Ziggy Hood to free agency this week, the Pittsburgh Steelers are reportedly busy trying to plug those holes with replacements.
As initially revealed by NFL Network, Bills defensive end Alex Carrington paid a visit to the Steelers’ training complex Thursday, within hours of Chargers nose tackle Cam Thomas‘ tour of the facility, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.
The two 27-year-old free agents shouldn’t cost the Steelers too much if general manager Kevin Colbert elected to sign one or both, but they probably wouldn’t be impact players.
That brings us to the case of disgruntled Patriots nose tackle Vince Wilfork, who reportedly asked for his outright release Thursday after New England management requested he take a significant pay cut.
Wilfork is 32 and coming off a season during which he played just three games before tearing an Achilles tendon. However, he’s made his reputation as the cornerstone of the Patriots’ run defense, an area that has vexed the Steelers in recent years – and especially since Casey Hampton‘s retirement.
Also, Wilfork can get in the backfield and disrupt the passer, as evidenced by his 16 career sacks, six more than Thomas and Carrington combined.
On the other hand, Wilfork was scheduled to make $7.5 million in base salary this season, which would wrap up a five-year contract. Would he be willing to take less than that for a welcome change of employers? What is Wilfork worth at this point, with a major injury in the near past and his prime likely at its end?
Those are questions that Colbert will have to answer if there is any interest from either side. As our Josh Svetz has addressed, a dominant nose tackle is crucial in the Steelers’ 3-4 defensive scheme, so a man of Wilfork’s talent might be worth more to Pittsburgh than other teams.
Then there is the possibility the Steelers will go after a defensive lineman in the upcoming NFL Draft. In the end, it’ll come down to taking a chance on a youngster or going with proven, if aging, commodities.
Keep it here on City of Champions for more coverage of NFL free agency from a Pittsburgh perspective.