Steelers' Star Search: Offense

Our NFL expert, Dale Lolley, turns his attention to offensive players who are potential Steelers via free agency.

General Manager Kevin Colbert had some interesting things to say earlier this week if you paid attention to the tidbits he threw out about free agency.

First and foremost was something I generally already knew, but he reinforced that I was looking in the right direction when it comes to the Pittsburgh Steelers in free agency.

Arthur Moats, that’s the type of free agent we like to sign, the guy coming off of his first contract,” Colbert said, before lading adding that “Brice McCain was young depth. I kind of like that type of depth. It’s an experienced, young depth, as opposed to the rookie that has to be thrown in.”

That’s important. It’s always been something I’ve understood as I've dug for possible free agents for the Steelers. Colbert just drove the point home for all of us.

Earlier in the week, we looked at the defensive side of the ball, where the Steelers obviously have more needs. Today, we’ll look at offensive players who interest the Steelers. They might not be as sexy as some of the defensive players, but for a team looking to build some depth they’re just as important.

Lee Smith, TE, Buffalo – The 6-6, 265-pound Smith is a run- blocking tight end who could be a possibility if the Steelers are unable to re-sign Matt Spaeth. At 27, Smith's four years younger than Spaeth, and also has been more durable. But like Spaeth, he’s not going to give you much as a receiver. He’s got 20 receptions in four seasons for 144 yards and three scores despite appearing in 56 games, including 20 starts.

Tony Moeaki, TE, Seattle – Moeaki was at his best playing for Todd Haley in his rookie season in Kansas City in 2010. The third-round pick started 15 games and caught 47 passes for 556 yards and three scores. The 6-3, 256-pound 28-year-old appeared in six games – starting two – for Seattle last season and caught eight passes for 134 yards and one score. He has a lengthy injury history, including a torn ACL that cost him the 2011 season – and didn't help Haley keep his job – and a fractured shoulder in 2013. But when Moeaki’s healthy, he’s a weapon.

Charles Clay, TE, Miami – This would be a wish-list kind of move. The 6-3, 255-pound Clay turns 26 on Friday, Feb. 13 – happy birthday Charles – but is already one of the better two-way tight ends in the game. You could even say he's like a young Heath Miller: Clay doesn't star in any one part of the game but he does everything well.

No, he’s not a star but he will be in demand. Clay had 58 receptions for 605 yards and three scores in 2014 after setting career highs in 2013 with a 63-759-6 line while also carrying the ball seven times for 15 yards and a touchdown. Clay made $1.4 million in 2014 and should be looking at a deal that will average $3-4 million per season. With Miller nearing the end of his career, the Steelers could bring in his eventual replacement and help themselves in 2015 as well.

Roy Helu, RB, Washington – With Le’Veon Bell facing what is probably a one-game suspension to start the 2015 season, the Steelers need a better backup option than what they currently have on their roster. The 5-11, 215-pound Helu would provide that. He has 1,132 yards and 129 receptions for another 1,152 yards in four seasons as a backup for Washington. One issue, though, is fumbles: He has six in 384 career touches. Bell has one in two seasons.

Daniel Thomas, RB, Miami – Thomas could never quite break free in Miami, but has still been a productive player, gaining 1,480 yards and catching 55 passes for another 412 yards in four seasons. But the 6-1, 235-pounder from Kansas State, could, like Helu, provide a solid backup option to Bell. Like Helu, Thomas has had some issues with ball control. Thomas has six career fumbles in 464 touches.

Garry Williams, OT/G, Carolina – The 28-year-old Williams is now a year-and-a-half removed from a torn ACL suffered during the 2013 season. He appeared in just one game last season but was the team’s starting right guard in 2012. Williams has also started 13 career games at right tackle, so the 6-3, 320-pounder would fit as a swing player for the Steelers, who left themselves short at offensive tackle at times in 2014.

Garrett Reynolds, OT/G, Detroit – Reynolds, 27, was a starter at right guard for Atlanta in 2013 before his release in a cap-related move. He signed a one-year deal in free agency with Detroit but was used as backup, appearing in 10 games and making four starts. The nephew of former Rams and 49ers star Jack “Hacksaw” Reynolds, the 6-6, 310-pound Garrett Reynolds has also played some tackle in his career. Like Williams, he would provide swing depth on game days.

(Dale Lolley appears courtesy of the Observer-Reporter.)

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