View Full Version : Steelers' changing of the guard

02-18-2008, 03:35 AM
Steelers' changing of the guard
By John Harris
Monday, February 18, 2008

Ordinarily, the Steelers attempting to re-sign reserve guard Chris Kemoeatu would barely rate a mention entering free agency.
These are not ordinary times for the Steelers.

Seven-time Pro Bowler Alan Faneca, the top free-agent guard, is as good as gone. Last week the Chicago Sun-Times reported that the Bears are considering signing Faneca to a huge deal. Additional teams are expected to enter the Faneca sweepstakes.

Kemoeatu, a restricted free agent with two starts in three NFL seasons, is the probable in-house candidate to replace Faneca at left guard.

Omar Khan, the Steelers' lead negotiator, has spoken with Kemoeatu's representative, Kenneth Vierra, regarding a new multiyear contract. The two are scheduled to have another phone conversation tomorrow and then meet in person Thursday at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.

"What I took from the conversation is he's going to start at guard (in 2008)," Vierra said about Kemoeatu, a fifth-round pick (and the 204th player selected) in the 2005 draft. "The bottom line is they've expressed interest. We're making progress and talking and trying to get it done."

The Steelers are under no obligation to give Kemoeatu a long-term contract. As a restricted free agent, they can offer him a one-year tender and continue negotiating on a long-term deal or wait until after next season when he would become an unrestricted free agent.

Kemoeatu, who earned around $460,000 last season, would receive $927,000 next season if the Steelers offered him a low tender that would net them a fifth-round draft pick if another team topped their offer.

Vierra said the Steelers are more likely to offer a $1.47 million tender that would cost another team a second-round pick to sign Kemoeatu.

"Normally you can establish some kind of market, a range, and you can work things out," Vierra said. "It's a crapshoot because he has a lot of potential, he's shown a lot of good things, but he doesn't have 30 starts under his belt. We're trying to figure out what makes sense length-wise, bonus-wise, playing-time incentives-wise.

"I have full confidence he's going to be a Steeler in 2008. The question is, can we get a (long-term) deal done?"

Khan doesn't discuss contract negotiations, and director of football operations Kevin Colbert wasn't available for comment. A team spokesman said the Steelers don't discuss the status of their free agents.

Kemoeatu started two games at right guard in 2006 when Kendall Simmons was sidelined with a foot injury. He saw limited action at right guard last season in a "Monday Night Football" game against Baltimore. He also started at left guard in a preseason game against Green Bay last season when Faneca was out with a shoulder injury.

"If Alan's gone, you have a guy that can step in at a very high level," Vierra said. "He will work. That's what they like about him."

Clearly, the Steelers like what they see. But have they seen enough to offer Kemoeatu the long-term security he's seeking?


Galax Steeler
02-18-2008, 03:42 AM
I don't know about a long term deal but I would give him a shot on a short term deal.

02-18-2008, 05:47 AM
it depends on what the plans are for the draft

02-18-2008, 06:14 AM
We have very little depth at Guard so signing him is a good idea...starting him is a different animal all together...but we will have to see.

02-18-2008, 09:40 AM
The knock on him has always been that he can't learn the playbook. Time to make it or break it IMO. If he doesn't know it by now chances are good that he never will. I think we need to move Mahan to guard and find a center. If Marvel Smith comes back healthy the OL should be OK this year. Still need to draft some new blood for the OL moving forward, not many OL straight out of college can be plugged into a starters role.

02-18-2008, 12:19 PM
i think kemoeatu will be a great run blocking guard for us. kendall simmons in my eyes has also stepped up to be worth the first round picked he cost us. i think we will be just fine at guard next year.

02-18-2008, 05:29 PM
We have very little depth at Guard so signing him is a good idea...starting him is a different animal all together...but we will have to see.

Exactly. He needs some more time.

02-18-2008, 06:44 PM
Exactly. He needs some more time.

Yeah, but if you draft one of the top 3 gaurds in this draft, Kemo is a waste other than backup again.

02-18-2008, 07:10 PM
Yeah, but if you draft one of the top 3 guards in this draft, Kemo is a waste other than backup again.

I disagree, first off, the guard class in this draft is terrible, which is shown in the fact that no one can really agree on who the top 3 guards are. Also, Kemo was considered one of the top 5 guards in the 2005 class, and physically was probably #1. His problem, which is well known, was his intelligence, and after three years the guy either gets it or he doesn't. And the fact that the Steelers are discussing a long term deal with him, they obviously think he gets it. Kemo has the ability to be a great guard in the NFL, especially in the run game. I've probably been one of his biggest supporters on this board, and Time will tell whether he pans out, but I think his chances are very good.

02-19-2008, 10:02 AM
We have very little depth at Guard so signing him is a good idea...starting him is a different animal all together...but we will have to see.

He will definetly be signed, what offer and whether it is long term is the question. Some might even say, after Fanecas play this past season, that he will be an upgrade.

With Simmons, Kemo (he will sign) and Mahan that gives us three guards with NFL experience. Add in Colon (his natural position) that makes four.

With Starks and Essex being FAs and no official talks of either being signed, that leaves Smith and Colon as our only tackles with NFL game experience. Essex will probably get signed, but I would'nt be shocked to see them franchise Starks either.

We need a center!! Everything else would become a little clearer if we had a legitimate center.

I know we need to draft for O-line no matter what, but I still feel strongly that we can field a better O-line than last year with who we have.

LT Starks (give him a legit chance at his natural left side)
LG Colon
C Simmons (I know the team says no, but I still say he's the best option on the roster)
RG Kemo
RT Smith (can easily switch the two back)

Rhee Rhee
02-19-2008, 02:29 PM
omgosh... i personally say release him...

there is enough value through the draft that we might be able to get one of those UND/FA...

02-19-2008, 02:57 PM
I'm excited to see what Kemo brings to the table as the starting LG. Our biggest problem areas still lie at C and potentially at LT if Smith gets hurt again.

02-21-2008, 09:19 AM
can kemo pass block, we kinda need an upgrade there