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mesaSteeler
05-16-2009, 11:58 PM
Bouchette on the Steelers: Team on a budget
Just because they've realized some recent savings doesn't mean they are flush with cap room
http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09137/970756-66.stm
Sunday, May 17, 2009
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Gene J. Puskar/AP


The Steelers have their salary-cap savings from Larry Foote, Hines Ward and Ike Taylor. So, what will they do with their newfound money and cap room?

Don't be surprised if it turns out they do little.

They have nine starters entering the final year of their contracts: tight end Heath Miller, halfback Willie Parker, nose tackle Casey Hampton, defensive end Brett Keisel, tackles Max Starks and Willie Colon, free safety Ryan Clark, center Justin Hartwig and kicker Jeff Reed.

Most of those will finish the 2009 season without a contract extension and become free agents in March, and perhaps none will sign a new deal.

While the Steelers created more room with their recent moves, and the salary cap for each NFL team rose nearly $12 million since last season to $128 million, most of that cap room already has been gobbled up by higher salaries for 2009 to the point the Steelers were barely under the NFL cap before the draft. They also have their draft choices to sign.

One reason they don't have much wiggle room is the large increase in Ben Roethlisberger's cap figure. It was nearly $8 million last year, the first of his contract extension; it rises to more than $13.2 million this year. Other increases, although not as dramatic, include Keisel's climb of nearly $2 million to almost $5 million.

The Steelers have done a good job remaining not only competitive but winning two Super Bowls while managing the cap without wounding their future. They will be tested anew this year and next. They have paved the way to keep 20 of their 22 starters intact, but they may not be able to hold onto many or any of those nine who have one year left.

Kevin Colbert publicly proclaimed their desire to sign Starks to a contract extension, and Starks is open to a long-term deal. But with a guarantee of nearly $8.5 million this season as their franchise player, it does not seem plausible. The signing bonus alone would have to be enormous, in the $15 million range, for Starks to begin to entertain an extension. They tried last year after they guaranteed Starks a contract of nearly $8 million and could not do it. Why would anyone think they could pull it off this season?

They most likely will try to sign Miller and Reed to extensions as priorities, and perhaps Clark. They have no one behind either of those three who can measure up. Whether they can do so or not is another matter. The others may have to wait until after the season.

The unknown is whether a new collective bargaining agreement will occur before free agency in March. If not, players such as Miller and Colon will be restricted free agents rather than unrestricted, and each NFL team can tag two franchise players instead of one. That would, for instance, allow them to virtually keep four potential free agents -- Miller, Colon and two franchise players.
When these Steelers win, everyone wins

Steelers Nation may have gotten its start in the 1970s from four Super Bowl victories, but one of the Hall of Fame players from that era believes now is as good a time as any for the franchise.

"I just think we're witnessing some great times in the history of the Steelers,'' cornerback Mel Blount said. "We have a great fan base here, and the team produces. It's just a great situation. The Rooneys have done a good job. They're really embracing the community and becoming a major player in the community. It's spilled over into the fan base, and the respect people have for the Steelers."

Blount says he and most of the players from the 1970s dynasty revel in the team's recent successes. It has a spillover effect for them, too.

"I can't go anywhere without people coming up and wanting my autograph,'' Blount said. "And I haven't played in 25 years."

Blount said their winning benefits his Mel Blount Youth Home and his annual fund-raising dinner.

"A lot of people might not realize that. Every time the Steelers win the Super Bowl, the dinner we have, we see a big increase in sales of tables and our auction. Not just that but around the city, different businesses want you to appear and speak. It's big for us when these guys win and I hope those players realize that.

"We in no way at all envy them winning the Super Bowl. We love it.''

And, Blount thinks they can win another this season.

"I told Mike Tomlin at our dinner, 'Hey, man, go win another; seven sounds good.' I wouldn't be surprised because they have the nucleus -- the quarterback and good young players. I think they have a great coach."

If they would win another this season, it would be three in the past five. How would that stack up to four in six years for Blount's teams?

"It's kind of like asking whether guys could play in different eras," Blount said. "They have my respect right now as far as being up there with us if they don't ever win another.

"The Super Bowl they played this year, in my opinion, was the most exciting one I've seen since I've been a part of it.''
Only coaching in '09 will be at CBS

Bill Cowher says he won't rule out returning to coach in the NFL again, but he has no plans to do so.

"No, I'm not ruling it out. I feel like I'm still too young to do that,'' Cowher said from Raleigh, N.C., this week. He turned 52 last week. "But I really do enjoy the job right now at CBS. I know I'm doing CBS this year. Everything is good, and I don't have other plans right now.''

Cowher's youngest daughter, Lindsay, will graduate from high school in Raleigh soon and will attend Wofford College in Spartanburg, S.C., where she will play basketball.

"It's only 3 1/2 hours away," Cowher noted. "We're excited about that. It's not far, very driveable."

For those optimistic Steelers fans looking ahead, CBS will broadcast Super Bowl XLIV, and Cowher will be right there with them.

Ed Bouchette can be reached at ebouchette@post-gazette.com.
First published on May 17, 2009 at 12:00 am

Cheppy
05-17-2009, 12:11 AM
"The Steelers have their salary-cap savings from Larry Foote, Hines Ward and Ike Taylor. So, what will they do with their newfound money and cap room?"

Sign Heath first & foremost. He & Ben being joined at the hip throughout their careers only helps the organization. And considering there really isn't anyone waiting in the wings signing Clark is pretty damn paramount.

MasterOfPuppets
05-17-2009, 02:57 AM
hmmmmmm......:scratchchin: .....they could trade keisel this year and free up a bunch of cap space ... i think he goes after this year anyway....might as well get somethin for him....:noidea:

Galax Steeler
05-17-2009, 07:04 AM
hmmmmmm......:scratchchin: .....they could trade keisel this year and free up a bunch of cap space ... i think he goes after this year anyway....might as well get somethin for him....:noidea:

I am sure they will have something up there sleves when we least expect it they will do something to free up some cap room.

stillers4me
05-17-2009, 07:40 AM
Miller, Reed, and Ryan Clark. I can't imagine the modern era Steelers without them. Move heaven and earth to sign them. Whatever it takes, just do it.

Steelerfreak58
05-17-2009, 10:40 AM
Miller is a must sign. Proven to be worth every penny. The guy is possibly the best TE in the league if Arians would just actually utilize him more. Up to this point you have seen about 50% of what Miller is capable of if that.

Steelers & I
05-17-2009, 11:12 AM
We as fans better truly enjoy the 09 season. No ifs ands or buts about it, the Steelers roster will see dramatic changes in 2010. The Steelers front office have mastered the salary cap to this point but the salary cap may very well catch up to, and actually bite them, in 2010 and beyond. I guess that's the price you have to pay in order to win championships. Hopefully the Steelers will win their 7th Lombardi before the salary cap puts the ultimate squeeze on them.

devilsdancefloor
05-17-2009, 11:40 AM
Well hopefully starks and colon get smart and sign long term deals or just maybe they wil be gone :noidea: Id rather keep miller, clark & reed. But i guess that depends on capazzi & hills development as well. I hope things work out fingers crossed!

fansince'76
05-17-2009, 11:52 AM
The Steelers have done a good job remaining not only competitive but winning two Super Bowls while managing the cap without wounding their future. They will be tested anew this year and next. They have paved the way to keep 20 of their 22 starters intact, but they may not be able to hold onto many or any of those nine who have one year left.

Of course this is all assuming there's even going to be a cap in 2010, which I doubt there will be, especially in light of the chucklehead who will be spearheading CBA negotiations for "management." I fully expect an uncapped league in 2010, a lockout in 2011, and God knows what after that.

thumper
05-17-2009, 01:04 PM
It would appear - to even the casual observer - that this will be the last legit shot at another ring for a while. Pgh is barely under the cap and the following are all free agents after this season (with my comments of what will - or should - transpire with these players.)

Willie Parker - unless he agrees to come back cheap after having to miss time from injuries again, he won't be brought back. But with losing caries to Mendenhall and Moore having proved himself worthy of the 3rd down back, WP likely won't put up big #s to demand a big contract, so signing him back at a reasonable rate is possible.

Casey Hampton - Casey is a huge part of making the 3-4 work but his body will start shutting down at this point. Not only might be not be back in Pgh in 2010, he might not even be in the NFL, period after this season. Don't forget, he showed up to camp way out of shape last year, to the point of not even being able to participate the first week or two of camp.

Heath Miller - I think they work hard to re-sign him. He just bleeds Steelers thru and thru. He will probably be the first priority.

Jeff Reed - Simply might not be able to afford, even though they'd love to.

Max Starks - I'm done even pretending to know what they will do with him. Probably do franchise tag again and then bench him. Pay him $9 mill to sit.

Willie Colon - Will be back if cheap.

Ryan Clark - Probably gone and that will be a big blow to the D. He has really come on as the enforcer back there. He has a tremendous post season and December. His absence will be felt. But you don't stay a good team by resigning many dudes in their 30s.

Justin Hartwig - Gone

Brett Keisel - Gone.

Like I said, they better get another ring this year, as 2010 appears likely that they will be losing too many to compete.

stillers4me
05-17-2009, 03:02 PM
We'll be fine.

They sky is falling......tomorrow! :willy:

MasterOfPuppets
05-17-2009, 03:07 PM
Of course this is all assuming there's even going to be a cap in 2010, which I doubt there will be, especially in light of the chucklehead who will be spearheading CBA negotiations for "management." I fully expect an uncapped league in 2010, a lockout in 2011, and God knows what after that.i'm afraid you may very well be right.....:doh:

The Duke
05-17-2009, 05:37 PM
Like I said, they better get another ring this year, as 2010 appears likely that they will be losing too many to compete.

we got ben. The team will be competing every year thanks to that

plus the young talent on the team will rise. except tony hills of course :rolleyes:

BlastFurnace
05-17-2009, 08:24 PM
The NFL is a year by year league now anyways. I'll say it now...they better win it this year. I'll say it next year...they better win it this year.

steelreserve
05-18-2009, 10:38 AM
It would appear - to even the casual observer - that this will be the last legit shot at another ring for a while. Pgh is barely under the cap and the following are all free agents after this season (with my comments of what will - or should - transpire with these players.)
...

Like I said, they better get another ring this year, as 2010 appears likely that they will be losing too many to compete.

We need to keep Miller and Clark, probably Hampton too if we don't get a good replacement ... the rest of those guys we don't really need.

Kiesel is good but we already have a replacement lined up. Hartwig is decent but expendable; Colon is so-so and easily replaceable.

Parker and Starks we'll be better off without -- for those keeping track at home, that's almost $13 million we're paying for no production. Not to mention we'll have $6-$7 million in dead money freed up from Simmons and that &(*$#@!! Mahan.

So $20 million to spend keeping Miller, Clark and Hampton, possibly one more key FA on top of that? Sounds pretty doable to me. The sky isn't falling because of contracts. If anything, it'll be age on defense that kills us if we don't draft well in the next 3 years or so.

86WARD
05-18-2009, 06:50 PM
Miller, Reed, and Ryan Clark. I can't imagine the modern era Steelers without them. Move heaven and earth to sign them. Whatever it takes, just do it.

QFT.

I highly doubt that Miller's going anywhere, especially if there is no CBA. They'll be able to tag him...

86WARD
05-18-2009, 06:57 PM
Everyone thinks without a CBA next season that everyone's going to spend, spend, spend to buy a championship and with some teams, that will be the case.

The other thing everyone is overlooking is that with no CBA, there is no salary-cap and with no salary-cap there is no minimum spending. Right now, I think, teams have to spend a minimum of $107M. Next season, teams will be able to pocket 25, 30, 50, 60 million dollars by fielding teams that they don't have to pay...they could look at this as the ability to "catch-up" with the way the economy is.

We just need to hope that the Steelers aren't on the extreme side of being one of "those" teams...either greedy or cheap...

SunshineMan21
05-19-2009, 04:01 PM
It would appear - to even the casual observer - that this will be the last legit shot at another ring for a while. Pgh is barely under the cap and the following are all free agents after this season (with my comments of what will - or should - transpire with these players.)

Willie Parker - unless he agrees to come back cheap after having to miss time from injuries again, he won't be brought back. But with losing caries to Mendenhall and Moore having proved himself worthy of the 3rd down back, WP likely won't put up big #s to demand a big contract, so signing him back at a reasonable rate is possible.

Casey Hampton - Casey is a huge part of making the 3-4 work but his body will start shutting down at this point. Not only might be not be back in Pgh in 2010, he might not even be in the NFL, period after this season. Don't forget, he showed up to camp way out of shape last year, to the point of not even being able to participate the first week or two of camp.

Heath Miller - I think they work hard to re-sign him. He just bleeds Steelers thru and thru. He will probably be the first priority.

Jeff Reed - Simply might not be able to afford, even though they'd love to.

Max Starks - I'm done even pretending to know what they will do with him. Probably do franchise tag again and then bench him. Pay him $9 mill to sit.

Willie Colon - Will be back if cheap.

Ryan Clark - Probably gone and that will be a big blow to the D. He has really come on as the enforcer back there. He has a tremendous post season and December. His absence will be felt. But you don't stay a good team by resigning many dudes in their 30s.

Justin Hartwig - Gone

Brett Keisel - Gone.

Like I said, they better get another ring this year, as 2010 appears likely that they will be losing too many to compete.

Completely disagree. We have always drafted for the future, and basically our whole team strategy is based on having such good development that there are very few players that we *have* to resign. The FO knows whose contracts are expiring--there's a reason we drafted Hood.

You don't stay on top by overpaying for your role players (Keisel, Reed, Clark, Hartwig, Colon). Basically, any of those guys are people we'd like to have back, but if they left we could most likely replace them right now without a huge drop in performance--the possible exception to this being Clark. Now, I don't think we'll let every single one of those guys go, but we've structured our roster in such a way that even if we lost all of them it wouldn't cripple us.

Heath is the one guy on that list who will be back for sure--he is an elite player at his position, fits our scheme perfectly, and there's no obvious replacement. Additionally, balanced tight ends rarely command huge contracts.

I think it's unlikely that Willie gets resigned unless he takes a substantial pay cut or has a monster year. He's always been a pretty decent back, but unless Mendy, Memo, and Summers all fall flat on their faces it doesn't seem like there would be a huge dropoff if he was to be released at the end of the year. I've got nothing against Willie, and I've enjoyed having him as a Steeler, but right now with the number of options we have at RB it doesn't make sense to pay through the nose for him, especially as he's getting older.

Starks will likely be resigned, and this may actually help our cap issues. He's the only competent OT on the roster right now, so unless Hills really emerges we pretty much have to keep him. Starks is still young, and there's no reason to think he won't continue to play at the same level for a number of years.

The one problem spot might be Hampton--he's getting older (as is Hoke)--and we don't really have anyone who can step in at the 3-4 NT position. It's also very difficult to find true 3-4 NTs . . . Hood is probably too small to play the position, and our defense really relies on Hampton up front occupying multiple blockers.

So basically, our big challenge right now is finding a big NT who can eventually succeed Hampton . . . other than that I'm not at all worried about 2010. Even if we lost everyone on the list, we would still be a very strong team, and this is assuming that our draft picks do absolutely nothing.


Hampton is the one trouble spot. We don't have an obvious replacement (Hoke is getting older, too), but

Dino 6 Rings
05-19-2009, 04:53 PM
Like I said, they better get another ring this year, as 2010 appears likely that they will be losing too many to compete.

I liked your post, til this line.

FYI

The Steelers always Compete. That's the dirty little secret that fans of other teams hate about us.

We are Always competitive. We always go into the new season with hope and with the belief that we are a playoff caliber team and can win it all.

Unlike other teams who year after year fall on their face by week 5, we are always fighting to get into the playoffs.

We have not had back to back losings seasons since 98 and 99. Prior to that, the last back to back losing seasons were 85 and 86, prior to that you have to go back to 1971.

That's why people hate us. We are ALWAYS in the Hunt.

El-Gonzo Jackson
05-19-2009, 05:41 PM
We need to keep Miller and Clark, probably Hampton too if we don't get a good replacement ... the rest of those guys we don't really need.

Kiesel is good but we already have a replacement lined up. Hartwig is decent but expendable; Colon is so-so and easily replaceable.

Parker and Starks we'll be better off without -- for those keeping track at home, that's almost $13 million we're paying for no production. Not to mention we'll have $6-$7 million in dead money freed up from Simmons and that &(*$#@!! Mahan.

So $20 million to spend keeping Miller, Clark and Hampton, possibly one more key FA on top of that? Sounds pretty doable to me. The sky isn't falling because of contracts. If anything, it'll be age on defense that kills us if we don't draft well in the next 3 years or so.

What about Holmes? When is his contract up?

I agree that Miller and Hampton might be the priority. Clark, I think they throw a fair offer at him but dont overpay him.(I got a hunch on Ryan Mundy) Count Keisel, Townsend, Parker, Starks on the list of the departed and either Hartwig or Colon, but not both.....they will keep some continuity on the line.