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mesaSteeler
05-16-2009, 09:41 AM
http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/news;_ylt=AgslQE5sBJCl5gcaPVCU3GPsrZJ4?slug=teamre ports-2009-nfl-pit&prov=sportsxchange&type=team_report&print=1
Steelers Team Report

Yahoo! Sports May 15, 2:45 am EDT

Inside Slant

Pittsburgh has Larry Foote’s(notes) nearly $2.9 million of cap room, several more million from Hines Ward’s(notes) contract extension and more cap-savers from the renegotiation of Ike Taylor’s(notes) 2009 salary.

So, what’s the holdup in signing some of their key players who have one year left on their contracts? It could be a two-way street.

Starters with one year left on their contracts are tight end Heath Miller(notes), halfback Willie Parker(notes), offensive tackles Max Starks(notes) and Willie Colon(notes), center Justin Hartwig(notes), nose tackle Casey Hampton(notes), defensive end Brett Keisel(notes), free safety Ryan Clark(notes) and kicker Jeff Reed(notes).

Of those, Starks is the only player they have admitted to trying to sign to a long-term deal and the reason for that is, as their franchise player, he is guaranteed a salary of nearly $8.5 million this season. They’d love to reduce that cap hit but they’d have to come up with a whopping signing bonus in order to convince Starks and agent Eugene Parker to sign a long-term contract.

Other players most likely to receive contract extension proposals before the start of this season are Miller and Reed. The rest might have to wait until after the 2009 season.

Miller is so important to their offense that the Steelers could not imagine playing without him. He’s a good combination of blocker and receiver and they don’t have that in any other tight end—few teams in the league, in fact, have one like him. But if there is no CBA extension before next March, Miller will be classified as a restricted free agent, not unrestricted as he would normally become when his five-year rookie contract expires.

Reed also is not someone the team is itching to replace. He has proven to be a consistent kicker with a strong leg who has mastered the tricky winds at Heinz Field. He’s as dependable as they come, and he might be the most amenable to a contract of all their players with one year left on deals.

The Steelers already are looking for Hartwig’s replacement. Colon has not been spectacular at right tackle and he, too, will be restricted and not an UFA if there is not a renewal of the current CBA. Keisel will be 31, but the Steelers added Ziggy Hood in the first round of last month’s draft. Parker, 28, has Rashard Mendenhall(notes) at his position and while they’d like to keep both, if Parker wants too much the Steelers might opt to let him test the free-agent waters next year. Hampton will be 32 in September and has weight issues. He still performs at a high level but is a two-down player who might not have much left.

Clark himself has had health issues but he rebounded from them to have his best season in 2008. He turns 30 in October and the Steelers might be interested in signing him for a few more years because he has played so well for them.

Notes, Quotes

• The Steelers will visit the White House next week for the second time in three years at the invitation of President Obama.

• LB Napoleon Harris(notes), a UFA from the Minnesota Vikings, visited the Steelers after Larry Foote’s release but there has been no move to sign him. However, the 2002 first-round pick of the Oakland Raiders remains a possibility.

Harris, 30, played for Mike Tomlin when the Steelers coach was Minnesota’s defensive coordinator in 2006.

• Former Detroit tight end Sean McHugh(notes), who signed with the Steelers last summer after his release by the Lions, did not fault Larry Foote for forcing his way off the Steelers roster to join the Detroit Lions, winless last season.

“He’s been in a position where he’s got a couple of Super Bowl rings and he’s made a decision in his life—what makes his life better is to be back home,” McHugh said of Foote, a Detroit native.

• Steelers broadcaster Tunch Ilkin, their player rep during the 1987 strike and the commencement of free agency, believes some players do not understand the true concept of the system. He notes that some players with one year left on their contracts want to be treated as unrestricted free agents by their own teams.

“Some guys want to find out what they’re worth on the open market.” Ilkin said. “Unfortunately, you still hear that from guys with a year left on their contracts, and they don’t realize you can’t get fair value with one year left.”

• With his new five-year contract, 33-year-old Hines Ward is in position to achieve yet another goal—to play his entire career with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

If he does, he will join a select number of players who have done so in the free agency era. In fact, there were only two Pro Bowl Steelers who played their entire career with the team, center Dermontti Dawson and nose tackle Joel Steed.

“It’s a big honor for me to start my career here and evidently end my career here,” Ward said. “I couldn’t be happier.”

Quote To Note: “In my case, certainly when you play for an organization like this, I can’t see myself wanting to go anywhere else. I definitely hope it ends up good.”—TE Heath Miller, signed through 2009.

Strategy And Personnel

Franchise Player: OT Max Starks: Tendered at $8.451M; signed tender Feb. 23.

TRANSITION PLAYER: None.

UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS

• P Mitch Berger(notes).

• DE Orpheus Roye(notes).

UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (not tendered)

• TE Jon Dekker(notes) (not tendered as ERFA).

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: None.

EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS

• G Jeremy Parquet(notes) was a backup who played little.

PLAYERS RE-SIGNED

• QB Charlie Batch(notes): UFA; $895,000/1 yr, $50,000 SB.

• CB Fernando Bryant(notes): UFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.

• OT Willie Colon: RFA; $2.198M/1 yr.

• FB Carey Davis(notes): ERFA; terms unknown.

• OT Trai Essex(notes): UFA; $1.94M/2 yrs, $500,000 SB.

• LB Keyaron Fox(notes): UFA; $1.8M/2 yrs, $380,000 SB.

• LB Andre Frazier(notes): UFA; $1.375M/2 yrs, $125,000 SB; 2009 cap: $687,500.

• LB Arnold Harrison(notes): Not tendered as RFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.

• OG Chris Kemoeatu(notes): UFA; $20M/5 yrs, $3.885M SB/$6M guaranteed.

• CB Anthony Madison(notes): RFA; $1.01M/1 yr.

• TE/FB Sean McHugh; RFA; (tendered at $1.01M with seventh-round pick as compensation); $2.57M/3 yrs, $390,000 SB.

• OT Max Starks: FFA; $8.451M/1 yr.

PLAYERS ACQUIRED

• RB Stefan Logan: FA CFL; terms unknown.

• WR Shaun McDonald(notes): UFA Lions; 1 yr, terms unknown.

• CB Keiwan Ratliff(notes): UFA Colts; terms unknown.

• WR Brandon Williams: FA; terms unknown.

PLAYERS LOST

• LB Larry Foote (released).

• LB Mike Humpal(notes) (released/failed physical).

• QB Byron Leftwich(notes): UFA Buccaneers; $7.5M/2 yrs; $3.5M RB 2010.

• CB Bryant McFadden(notes): UFA Cardinals; $10M/2 yrs, $1M RB/$5M guaranteed.

• RB Gary Russell(notes) (released).

• OG Kendall Simmons(notes) (released/failed physical).

• S Anthony Smith(notes): Not tendered as RFA/Packers; $1.485M/2 yrs, $100,000 RB.

• OT Marvel Smith(notes): UFA 49ers; 2 yrs, terms unknown.

• WR Nate Washington(notes): UFA Titans; terms unknown.

Galax Steeler
05-17-2009, 06:36 AM
Hopefully they can get Starks signed to a long term contract and relieve some salry cap room so we can sign Miller and Read before next year.