Another in a position-by-position series examining the Steelers' roster in advance of the start of free agency.
(Free Agent Scorecard at the position: 1 unrestricted – Guy Whimper)
He didn't seem to go into the tank mentally after that disastrous outing vs. Jared Allen in London, and Adams certainly looks like an NFL offensive lineman. Has work to do on the position's fundamentals, but Adams is worth the effort. A good run blocker already. Adams should be one of Mike Munchak's pet projects, and he could end up in competition for playing time at right tackle. That's the position Adams played as a rookie in 2012.
He's the starting left tackle going into 2014, and because Beachum is a diligent worker who wants to be great there's strong evidence to suggest he'll be the starting left tackle beyond 2014 as well. But that doesn't mean he can just show up and be handed the job. Said Coach Mike Tomlin, "He did a very good job of representing what he's capable of, but I'll expect him to continue to improve. I will not allow him to have an opportunity to exhale or seek comfort in regards to that. He's got a big offseason and training camp ahead of him, but he's in pretty decent position from that regard."
He'll be 30 in March and landed on IR with a soft tissue injury sustained in warmups of his first game with the Steelers. Brown is under contract for three more seasons, and while he renegotiated the 2013 figure to come to the Steelers in that trade, his salaries in 2014-16 are the numbers from the original contract extension he had signed with the Cardinals. Those are big numbers, really big numbers. With Adams, Beachum, and Marcus Gilbert all under contract, can there be room for Brown, either on the roster or under the salary cap?
Even though he improved over the course of 2013, Gilbert is probably going to have to compete to be a starter next season, maybe with Mike Adams. Gilbert is another player Munchak will have the ability to influence, because he's still young (26 on Feb. 15) but with 34 career starts already under his belt. Gilbert started all 16 games at right tackle had his best season in 2013, though, and maybe that serves as the start of a trend.
His signing last offseason was mocked in some circles, but Whimper acquitted himself well every time the team turned to him during the season. He was nicknamed Abdullah the Butcher by Mike Tomlin as an homage to a professional wrestling villain and accepted it with good humor. A potential unrestricted free agent, Whimper is worth bringing back at the right price.