Mike Wallace or drafted rookie
Mike was our #1 WR. A rookie isn't going to be able to replace that production (even in a down year by his standards). A drafted rookie would be our #4 WR on our depth chart behind Brown, Sanders, and Cotchery.
Rashard Mendenhall or Dwyer, Redmond or rookie
Dwyer and Redman can be retained for 1 more season with an RFA tender. However, a rookie RB should be drafted, because I doubt that either Dwyer or Redman will be with the team after 2013.
James Harrison or Jason Worilds
When healthy, Harrison is obviously the better player, but he's rarely been healthy and isn't getting any younger. Because we are so cap-strapped, there may be no choice but to keep the OLB with the 6-figure cap number over the OLB with the 8-figure cap number.
Troy Polamalu or Robert Golden
Is this really a question? Golden is an 2nd year UDFA special teams player, not a starting safety. If we had the equivalent of a Worilds as a backup safety, then Troy might be worried about being a cap casualty. But with Will Allen and Ryan Mundy free agents, and only Golden and Cromartie-Smith behind Troy and Clark, this is the most dire position on our team depth-wise (we may draft two safeties). You don't cut Hall-of-Fame caliber starters at positions where your backup situation is a huge liability. You just don't.
Ike Taylor or Lewis (this is probably the only one where the existing option is okay - Lewis)
I'd love to have both of them back, but if it takes sacrificing Taylor in order to retain Lewis, it's a move you have to make. You don't let go of players entering their prime in order to keep guys who are well past their prime. You just don't. Without Ike, I'm not super concerned about Lewis and Allen starting (although I am concerned about the depth behind them).
Kiesel or Heyward/Hood (Kiesel outplayed them both last year)
Keisel's a good guy to have in our DL rotation (and I think we'd only save a few million if we cut him). I'd prefer to keep him for one more year, but if we need those precious cap dollars elsewhere, then there are worse things in the world than having a couple of former 1st round picks starting at DE in our 3-4.
I would retain Keisel, foote, and Troy as you mentioned who would be trusted to play safety.
As for running back, I believe a rookie could surplant either Redman or Dwyer, they just are average and we need more than average.
The Browns selected Richardson last season and he started day one so yes a back can be a starter as a rookie.
I have my sights on Le'veon Bell RB, he is strong not very fast, but has quickness can run either outside or between the tackles. He breaks a lot of tackles too and makes defenders miss, just ask T'eo when they played against each other.
I really dislike when they go through the phase of overpaying players in their 30s and then come to regret it. It seems that once they get to the point of contending, they kind of feel like they have no choice but to keep the team together and end up over-paying some players and not getting a return on their investment. It's like they are damned if they do and damned if they don't. Last time they screwed up overpaying Gildong, Kirkland, Chad Scott, Kordell and a few others. This time they aren't getting a return on the $ going to Woodley, Hampton, Troy, Brown (yet) and Colon (per usual). The more they can stick with the __PREVIOUS__ Philly model of almost never paying big $ to players in their 30s, the better. That is how Philly used to stay good every year, and to a degree, Pgh as well. But like Colbert said, when you are going to Super Bowls and/or winning 12 games, you don't want to change much. God, they better draft well this April.
Originally Posted by BradshawsHairdresser
We wont be able to keep all the players we want... its not possible.
You can disagree slap...But the reality of the situation is obvious. They want to keep Foster, Wallace, and Lewis. They may only have a shot at Lewis and he may price himself out. They want Starks And Foote back but at min and backup depth. They want Harrison and any other cap casualty they discard but keeping them will injure the youth core of this team long term and is financially impossible at their contract numbers. If you think the Steelers just simply want to discard or let go of their "investments" before they are completely exhausted...you are mistaken. 2013 is about the ugly business come the start of the new league year and when the dust clears...It will be about the football. They are the Steelers...They will get through it. They made their bed....
Originally Posted by Slapstick
You kind of proved my point that the Steelers want to keep the veterans because they are still head and shoulders better than the recent crops of draftees. Unfortunately, what they want and what they are going to be able to do are two entirely different things and the Steelers are going to suffer for it, IMO. Next year will be another year of retooling and rebuilding without some longtime veterans. The Steelers were unable to fill the leadership void left by Smith and Ward this year and they're in all likelihood losing more leadership this year.
Originally Posted by RuthlessBurgher
I'm hoping that Ben really takes a step forward and starts to make this team march a bit to his beat, even more so than he's done in recent years. He's really going to be the veteran on this team come August.
Wallace and Mendenhall are players, who by their off-field actions, are not desired back.
Originally Posted by papillon
Honestly, a player who refused to sign his tender and then sat out of camp before returning. He then went out and played with lacklustre effort. This after coming off of a horrible second half of 2011.
Mendenhall came off of ACL surgery, had one decent game, and showed nothing else all year. When he was told that he would not dress for one game then he stayed home.
Neither is a player who the FO will be sad to see leave, nor will the consider it a failure on their part if they do.
Probably true, but they're still the best players the Steelers have at their positions. They wanted Wallace, but he wanted more than 10 million, but they wanted him. Shortly after the season I thought someone in the FO was saying that they're going to work with Mendenhall to get a contract done.
Originally Posted by steeler_fan_in_t.o.
I think the Steelers want them, they're off field actions make them easy to say goodbye to, but at one point the Steelers wanted them, because, they're the best players at their position.