Several Steeler players are entering the final years of thier contracts going into this season. Here are 5 big names that are least likely to be back in 2017.
5. James Harrison – At 38, Harrison is an outlier as far as NFL linebackers. Usually linebackers are well into retirement by now. Harrison has defied the odds to this point, but 2016 will be his last run with Pittsburgh.
4. Markus Wheaton – The wide reciever position will be a crowded one for Pittsburgh in 2017. The return of Martavis Bryant, and the emergence of Eli Rogers will make it hard to justify a new contract for Wheaton. A decent season will certainly earn him a $5-$7 million per season contract. That’s too much for the Steelers to fit under the cap, especially after Antonio Brown signs his mega-deal.
3. Lawrence Timmons – The writing is on the wall for Timmons, now that his successor has been given a new contract. Once Vince Williams signed his new deal, it all but sealed Timmons fate. Add to that the fact that the Steelers use use so much nickel defense now, it makes the second inside linebacker a two down player at best. The need for another high payed inside linebacker just isn’t there any longer.
2. Jarvis Jones – Pittsburgh did not pick up the 5th year option on Jones’ contract, essentially making him a free agent at seasons end. Ironically the better of a season Jones has, the less likely he is to be back. There is a scenario where he has another mediocre season, and resigns with the Steelers on the cheap. Anything close to a good season likely prices him out of Pittsburgh for 2017.
1. Le’veon Bell – While he may be the less likely of the Steeler free agents to leave, he is without question the most intriguing case. Bell is an unrestricted free agent in 2017, but the Steelers can use the franchise tag to keep him another year if they choose. Le’veon Bell is one more injury or off the field incedent away from being a “former” Steeler. It’s not something Pittsburgh fans want to think about, but it’s a very real possibility for the Steelers to deal with.