Time to Shop at the Dollar Store

SCI's free agency expert, Dale Lolley, has a list of nine players at whom the Steelers should look when they begin bargain hunting Tuesday at the start of the NFL's new fiscal season.

We all know the Steelers' salary cap situation. They're in cap hell, at least for a year until the new television contract kicks in.

So going out and making a big-name splash just isn't in the cards for them. Besides, it's just not the way the Steelers do business.

That does not, however, mean they won't be bargain shopping once the NFL free agency period begins.

So while some teams will be throwing money around like Pacman Jones in a strip club, the Steelers will be rolling through the Dollar Store, searching for bargains that not only fit their budget, but their system as well.

With that in mind, here are a few free agents the Steelers might take a look at in the upcoming weeks – not including their own:

Justin Forsett, RB - Forsett (5-8, 198) has spent three seasons in Seattle, serving as a part-time starter and change-of-pace back, much the same way Mewelde Moore did with Minnesota before coming to the Steelers. But, like Moore, the team was always looking for somebody else because it didn't feel Forsett could hold up as an every-down back. With Rashard Mendenhall shelved to start the season because of a torn ACL and Moore an unrestricted free agent – and getting up in age – the Steelers might be inclined to look for a younger version.

Forsett has averaged a healthy 4.6 yards per carry on his 278 career carries and has 97 receptions for 730 yards to boot. He has the added value of having returned punts and kickoffs for the Seahawks as well. Moore will likely be the Steelers' top choice to return, but if that doesn't work out, Forsett could fit the bill. Other possibilities: Tim Hightower, Washington; Jackie Battle, Kansas City

Owen Schmitt, FB - Assuming new offensive coordinator Todd Haley wants to bring in a true fullback, Schmitt, a former West Virginia star, could fit the bill. A true blocking fullback, Schmitt has just nine carries in four NFL seasons, two with Seattle and two with Philadelphia. He does have 34 career receptions, so he's not totally somebody defenses can forget about. But Schmitt's value truly comes as a lead blocker, where he can use his 6-2, 245-pound frame to drive linebackers out of the hole. Schmitt also plays on coverage teams. Other possibilities: Le'Ron McClain, Kansas City

Early Doucet, WR - Doucet and Haley have a history, as Haley was the offensive coordinator in Arizona when the Cardinals selected him in the 2008 draft. If Pittsburgh happens to lose Mike Wallace in free agency or can't work out a deal with Jerricho Cotchery, Doucet would be a nice fit as a replacement. He's coming off a season in which he caught 54 passes for 689 yards and five touchdowns in Arizona working as the No. 2 option behind Larry Fitzgerald and also plays some special teams. At 6-0, 212 pounds, he also has a little more size than Antonio Brown or Emmanuel Sanders. Arizona might want him back, but if things don't work out, the Steelers could be an option.

Legedu Nanee, WR - At 6-2, 220 pounds, Nanee would give Ben Roethlisberger the big receiver he's craved for so long. Nanee has also played on special teams coverage units throughout his career – four seasons in San Diego, one in Carolina - so he's not afraid to go hit somebody. He signed a one-year deal with Carolina last year as a free agent and won't command a big salary. Again, Nanee would likely only be an option if Wallace and/or Cotchery sign elsewhere.

Vinsanthe Shiancoe, TE - Heath Miller is obviously the starter, but the Steelers have never really had another true receiving tight end to pair with him. Shiancoe would offer that. At 6-4, 250 pounds, Shiancoe would offer Roethlisberger another big target. And as his 27 career TDs on 243 career receptions would suggest, he knows how to get open in the red zone. With Weslye Saunders suspended the first four games of the season and David Johnson really not much of a receiving threat, Shiancoe would be a nice piece to add - if the price is right. And at 31, Shiancoe might be looking for one last opportunity to win a Super Bowl. Other options: Joel Dreessen, Houston; Leonard Pope, Kansas City

Jeff Backus, OL - I list Backus as an offensive linemen because he could shift inside to guard and be fine or still play some tackle. At 34, Backus might not have a lot left in the tank, but in 11 seasons with the Lions, he's never missed a start, playing in 176 consecutive games. Backus should be well known to Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, and if Backus wants to take a run at winning a Super Bowl, Pittsburgh could offer him that chance.

Backus had surgery to repair a torn biceps at the end of the season and Detroit would like him back, but if things don't work out, the Steelers could be in the market for a lineman with plenty of experience starting at left tackle. Would you rather have Jonathan Scott or Backus?

Kareem McKenzie, OL - Like Backus, McKenzie is a linemen with plenty of experience, with 153 career starts. And he's accustomed to winning, having won a couple of Super Bowls with the Giants. Unlike Backus, however, his former team, the Giants, have told McKenzie that he's not likely in their future plans.

McKenzie, who turns 33 in May, might have a little more left in his tank, particularly if he slides inside to guard. At 6-6, 330 pounds, he certainly has the bulk to make such a move. McKenzie did have a DUI with the Giants back in 2008, but hasn't been a problem since. If the Steelers were to lose Doug Legursky or Ramon Foster as restricted free agents, McKenzie could be a nice fallback option. Other options: Vernon Carey, Miami; Anthony Collins, Cincinnati

Aubrayo Franklin, NT - Franklin has bounced around a bit in the NFL, spending four seasons each in Baltimore and San Francisco before signing a one-year deal with New Orleans in 2011. At 31 and with 73 career starts, he's been through the battles and could be paired with Steve McLendon to hold down the nose tackle position if the Steelers are forced to part ways with Casey Hampton. It would certainly be a better option than putting Ziggy Hood at nose tackle. The 6-1, 320-pound Franklin is more of a true nose tackle type. Other options: Kelly Gregg, Kansas City; Antonio Garay, San Diego

Wesley Woodyard, ILB - The Steelers don't mind taking a weakside backer who can run and move them inside - see James Farrior. At 6-0, 230 pounds, Woodyard might have to put on a few pounds, but Farrior played the past few seasons at less than that. At the very least, Woodyard could compete with Larry Foote for the starting job and help on special teams. He had 97 tackles and three forced fumbles for the Broncos last season, but isn't a huge name on the free agent market. Other options: Ernie Sims, Indianapolis; Tavares Gooden, San Francisco; E.J. Henderson, Minnesota

(Dale Lolley appears courtesy of the Observer-Reporter)

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