Like my prescriptions for increased use of the no-huddle, my free agency recommendations are bound to be heeded by the front office. Just you wait. Anyway, here's what I'd like to see shake out with the roster.
Quarterbacks - TRADE ROETHLISBERGER! Tee hee. I kid. Anyway, Leftwich is gone. Should be interesting to see if he gets to compete as a starter somewhere. Would have figured it would be the Jets, though if the Derek Anderson deal works out, that's not happening. My guess is Batch returns to back-up one final year with Dixon being groomed for the role full-time in 2010.
Running backs - Gary Russell is a competent short yardage back, who would probably be even better if he weren't gets contacted as soon as he gets the ball in the redzone. Mendenhall never conducted himself well after he went down with the shoulder injury. Like Sweed, I'm hoping for some improvement next year, but hardly holding my breath. There are those who suggest trading Parker and making Moore the full-time back. I would really caution against that. It would make more sense if the team was paying Moore a ton of money, but as it stands, what they have there works.
Wide receiver - They need a pure slot guy. Hines is as close as they have, but they could use another. I haven't completely given up on Sweed, but I'm hardly expecting the world of him either. And Santonio remains a paradox. Does this postseason represent him turning a corner into being a big threat receiver, or was it one good stretch. I think you have to resign Nate Washington. I can't image there being a ton of interest on the market for a guy who's an okay deep target but drops some easy passes. Seems like a mid-round draft pick is the call here. But, hey, Jerry Porter is available!
Offensive line: Marvel Smith is gone. I'd be shocked if he plays in the league again, actually. You have to keep Starks and Kemoeatu. Kendall Simmons needs to be released. And Colon will be easy to find a replacement for. I'm not great on scouting college talent, but at pick 32, if you're going O-line, you're almost guanarteed to be taking an interior guy. Which is fine, because neither Kemo nor Stapelton is bad enough that they have to go this very second, but a 1st round quality talent can be popped in their easily as well. For right tackle, that may be one of a few things they can address in free agency.
Defensive line - Aaron Smith isn't the youngest guy in the world, but I doubt we'll be seeing any heir apparents this off-season.
Linebackers - I love Larry Foote, but he kind of has to go, just to accomodate those resigning and long-term contracts for Harrison and some other players. People say the knock on Timmons is that he's really good if he only has to focus on one task, but I think he's shown enough versitility this season to warrant Foote's depature.
Secondary - Bryant McFadden has to be the biggest priority of the team's free agents. Deshea obviously can't go back to being a starting corner. William Gay is a very good nickel guy, but he's a clear drop-off if he's replacing McFadden at starter. One of the main changes in the defense turning from very good to dominant was the improved secondary play of recent years, and McFadden is one of the reasons of that rise.
Special teams - Would it kill us to find even an okay kick returner? I know all the recent experiments with this (Willie Reid) have been dreadful, but it can't really be that hard, can it? I mean, HOW CAN CAREY DAVIS BE RETURNING KICKS ON A SUPER BOWL TEAM!? And Sepulveda needs to do everything in his power not to have a repeat of last year.