Keisel's return is questionable

After a pair of false starts, the NFL free agency period begins at 12:01 a.m. Saturday. And even though the salary cap has gone up $7 million with the new CBA agreement, the Steelers figure to be doing more selling than buying in this free agent period.

Following is a rundown of the Steelers free agents and their chances of re-signing those players:

Antwaan Randle El, WR – The most well-known and flashiest of the Steelers' free agents, Randle El figures to get considerable attention from Chicago, Washington, Philadelphia and New England on the open market. He returned two punts for touchdowns last season and is also the only wide receiver in Super Bowl history to throw a touchdown pass.
Chance of re-signing: Nada.

Chris Hope, FS – Hope is a big hitter who thinks those blows should be delivered up around the chin. That works against wide receivers but gets him into trouble against running backs. He also doesn't make many interceptions, but is viewed by some teams as more of a strong safety. Considering the Steelers have released Mike Logan and Russell Stuvaints, leaving only Troy Polamalu and Tyrone Carter on the roster at the safety position, they could make a play to retain Hope. But right now, those chances are not good as the Giants and Bengals may come calling.
Chance of re-signing: Questionable.

Deshea Townsend, CB - Townsend doesn't run well any more and he's not the most physical guy, but he is still effective. The Giants are said to be interested and the Steelers won't get into a bidding war for Townsend even though he could easily move into the free safety spot for a year. But if the price gets too steep, forget about it.
Chance of re-signing: Questionable.

Kimo von Oelhoffen, DE – He's getting up in years, but is still effective at the point of attack. A very good technician, von Oelhoffen could also step into the Jerome Bettis Zen master role even if he's not starting next season. He'll likely take a veteran minimum deal for one more season.
Chance of re-signing: In the bag.

Brett Keisel, DE – Keisel would be a no-brainer to take over for von Oelhoffen in 2006 if he weren't a free agent. Trouble is, he is a free agent. The Steelers want to keep the up-and-comer, but can't afford to ruin their pay structure to do so. If he'll take $1.5 to $2 million per season to stay in Pittsburgh, he's back. If somebody offers more, he's gone.
Chance of re-signing: Questionable.

Jerame Tuman, TE - He lost his starting job to Heath Miller, but Tuman is still an effective No. 2 tight end. He doesn't stand out at anything, but he knows the system. The Steelers would like to bring him back at the right price.
Chance of re-signing: Probable.

Charlie Batch, QB - There was some confusion among Batch's people – mostly with Batch – as to whether he was signed with the Steelers for next season. He's not. But he's from Pittsburgh and is at ease being the backup to Ben Roethlisberger. Besides, he made his money with a big contract early in his career with Detroit. Even though he's a capable player and there aren't many decent quarterbacks on the market, he'll likely take less money to stay in his hometown.
Chance of resigning: In the bag.

Barrett Brooks, OT – Big Daddy has figured out a way to stick around the league for 10-plus seasons. He filled a role as the swing guy on the offensive line last season, but if Trai Essex continues to develop, there's no need for Brooks.
Chance of re-signing: Doubtful

Verron Haynes, RB - The Steelers found that Haynes was their best third-dowm back last season. But it was also the first time in his career that he made it all the way through a season without getting hurt. He's not starting material and he has balky knees, something that may scare other teams away. The Steelers know more about that situation than anybody.
Chance of re-signing: Questionable.

Clint Kriewaldt, LB – Kriewaldt is a good special teams player and is OK as a fill-in at inside linebacker. But the team can't afford to have too many high-priced special teamers, right?
Chance of re-signing: Questionable.

Quincy Morgan, WR – This is an interesting case. Morgan showed promise as a kick returner last season after he was picked up off the scrap heap when Dallas released him. He has speed, something the other Steelers' wideouts lack. But his hands are average at best. Still, with Randle El likely leaving, the Steelers would like to have him back. That is helped by the fact he broke his leg in the playoffs, something that should keep other teams at bay. Plus, Morgan and wide receivers coach Bruce Arians have a good history together.
Chance of re-signing: Probable.

Courtesy of the Observer-Reporter

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