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Offseason Forecast: Pittsburgh Steelers

With the offseason officially under way, Around the League will examine what's next for all 32 teams. The series continues with the Pittsburgh Steelers

What's changing



With the offseason officially under way, Around the League will examine what's next for all 32 teams.

AFC East
» Bills | Dolphins | Jets | Patriots
AFC North
» Bengals | Browns | Ravens | Steelers
AFC South
» Colts | Jaguars | Texans | Titans
AFC West
» Broncos | Chargers | Chiefs | Raiders
NFC East
» Cowboys | Eagles | Giants | Redskins
NFC North
» Bears | Lions | Packers | Vikings
NFC South
» Buccaneers | Falcons | Panthers | Saints
NFC West
» Cardinals | Niners | Rams | Seahawks

The Steelers haven't won a playoff game since losing the Super Bowl to the Green Bay Packers after the 2010 season, but coach Mike Tomlin is mostly staying the course with his staff. A few assistants are gone and a new blocking scheme could be coming to the offensive line, but coordinators Todd Haley (offense) and Dick Lebeau (defense) remain in place. The bigger changes will come to the Steelers' roster, where a lot of high-priced veterans are expected to be jettisoned.

Biggest free agents


» Keenan Lewis, cornerback: The 26-year-old starter had his best season in a contract year. He's going to cost a lot to retain, and the Steelers have all sorts of cap problems.

» Mike Wallace, wide receiver: It would be a shocker if Wallace was brought back at this point. The Steelers essentially chose to keep Antonio Brown over Wallace when Wallace rejected a $50 million offer last year.

» Rashard Mendenhall, running back: The Steelers and Mendenhall have talked about mending fences after a rocky 2012 season that ended with Mendenhall as a third-stringer, but there's little reason to think he'll be back unless it comes at a bargain basement price. Look for the two sides to part ways.

Other key free agents: Nose tackle Casey Hampton, tackle Max Starks, quarterback Byron Leftwich, safety Ryan Mundy, linebacker Larry Foote, and guard Ramon Foster.

What they need


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The team's next starting running back isn't on the roster, so the Steelers must look to the draft or free agency. Losing Mike Wallace will create a new need for a vertical threat. The offensive line will change dramatically this offseason, but most of the young pieces are in place. Heath Miller's ACL tear makes the need for receivers even more important.

More than anything, the Steelers need some of their draft picks of the last few years to develop. They are lacking their usual great front seven production because Ziggy Hood, Cameron Heyward, Jason Worilds, and Sean Spence haven't improved as hoped. Losing Lewis would create an issue at cornerback.

Offseason crystal ball


Pittsburgh isn't going to suddenly start signing big-name free agents (and they don't have the salary-cap space to do so anyway). This offseason will be more about shedding dead weight. Hampton, Starks, and Foote are unlikely to return. Look for Steve McLendon to replace Hampton at nose tackle.

Linebacker James Harrison and guard Willie Colon are some notable names that seem rather likely to get released although the Steelers coaching staff reportedly wants Harrison back. Troy Polamalu would be a surprising cut, but the Steelers are definitely in slash-and-burn mode. Be ready for a surprise or two.

Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.

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