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mesaSteeler
01-24-2010, 08:36 AM
Steelers Free Agent Decisions: Casey Hampton
http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10024/1030671-66.stm
The Steelers have some tough decisions to make concerning their six unrestricted free agents before the signing period begins March 5. What they do about their hulking nose tackle may be one of the hardest.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Larry Roberts/Post-Gazette
Casey Hampton Pos: NT Age: 32

Casey Hampton will play in his fifth Pro Bowl next Sunday and it might not be the last time this year he wears a football uniform other than his Steelers No. 98. For nine seasons, since he broke into the starting lineup as a rookie in 2001, Hampton has anchored some of the best defenses of the decade at nose tackle. But unless the team makes a move to keep him over the next month, Hampton will become an unrestricted free agent March 5.

The Steelers have options, none of them cheap. They can negotiate a long-term contract over the next month or they can put either a franchise or transition tag on Hampton.

His agent does not know what to expect, but sources told the Post-Gazette the team will try to sign Hampton one way or another before he becomes a free agent. That is something they did not try to do last year while they signed other players to long-term contracts before they started their final year under their old deals, players such as defensive end Brett Keisel, tight end Heath Miller and offensive tackle Max Starks.

"Really, we don't know right now," said agent Eric Armstead, who hopes to talk to the Steelers during Senior Bowl practices this week in Mobile, Ala. "They have time to toy around until March. It's an administrative decision.

A look at the other free agents the Steelers must decide on in anticipation of the start of free agency on March 5:

Today: Nose Tackle Casey HAMPTON

Monday: Safety Ryan CLARK

Tuesday: Running Back Willie PARKER

Wednesday: Cornerback Deshea TOWNSEND

Thursday: Right Tackle Willie COLON

Friday: Kicker Jeff REED

"Typically, the Steelers do business one way. When they want to retain a person, they sign him a year early and don't make a big splash. They are textbook."

That is what they did with Hampton the last time around. He had one year left on his contract when they signed him to a new one in the summer of 2005 at $22.75 million for five years. They ignored him last summer under identical circumstances and one year after coach Mike Tomlin put him on the physically unable to report list when the coach said he did not report to training camp in shape.

Replacing Hampton would be a difficult job. Chris Hoke remains his backup and played well when he started 12 games in 2004, including two in the playoffs, after Hampton's season ended with a torn ACL. Hoke has not had to play often since then, although he regularly enters games to give Hampton a rest. Hoke turns 32 in April, Hampton 33 in September.

Hampton has said he wants to stay with the Steelers and privately has told people that someone promised him the team would not put the franchise tag on him.

However, the Steelers might have no choice and it might be their best avenue. The cost to put the one-year franchise or transition tenders on a player have not yet been revealed by the league or the players union. Last season a one-year salary required to pay a franchised defensive tackle was slightly more than $6 million, about $5.5 million for the transition tag.

Each team will have both a franchise and transition tag if the collective bargaining agreement is not extended by March 5. That might not be a bad way for the Steelers to go with Hampton, who counted $6,652,000 against their salary cap last season. He would roughly count the same if franchised in 2010.

If they put the "exclusive" franchise tag on Hampton, he cannot negotiate with other teams. The "non-exclusive" tag would allow him to negotiate and if he signs and the Steelers do not match, they would receive two first-round draft choices in return. The transition tag only allows the Steelers the right to match another contract and keep the player.

"They haven't suggested making him the franchise player," Armstead said. "But a lot of times teams don't, so we really, really don't know."
For more on the Steelers, read the new blog, Ed Bouchette On the Steelers at www.post-gazette.com/plus. Ed Bouchette can be reached at ebouchette@post-gazette.com.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10024/1030671-66.stm#ixzz0dXKJtWIi

groundhogday
01-24-2010, 10:50 AM
Gotta sign him one way or another!

Chidi29
01-24-2010, 12:12 PM
It's a tough spot for us, one that would have been made better had we drafted a NT last year (particularly Ron Brace in the first round), but I let Hampton walk.

He's commanding less and less double teams by the year. He got just chipped or singled all together in same cases. What that allows if for those guards to get to the second level and block the linebackers, creating easier running lanes.

Hampton is just going to want too much money. He has all the leverage; the accolades, be it the two Super Bowl rings or a Top 5 rush defense virtually every year. The fact that there isn't another NT on the roster. The fact that he knows he's declining but is still good enough to get that one last big contract before his career is done. You know teams will always be willing to overpay on the market. Especially with more and more teams trying the 3-4. Teams like Seattle, Kansas City, and Denver all could use proven NTs. I'd expect Denver to make a big push for Hampton if Dean Pees, who was last with New England,, becomes the DC (Though those talks have cooled off some. Sounds like it could be from an in-house guy). Pees worked with another big NT in New England in Wilfork.

I don't want to give Hampton a big deal because of his work ethic issues. Anyone think he'll try harder once he knows he got his last big payday and can coast the rest of his career? Think he'll be watching his weight any more carefully? No way! He just got a ton of guaranteed money. We're stuck with whatever Casey wants to do.

As bad of a situation as it is, and I agree that it's a lose-lose situation thanks to our own mistakes, I'd rather be smart about my money and let him walk then take a big risk and blow a ton of money in the process.

El-Gonzo Jackson
01-24-2010, 01:05 PM
I think things might shake out like this:

Hampton-try and sign him to a 4 year deal, but if not.....they will tag him and maybe draft his replacement.

Clark-should be able to sign him to a cap friendly deal, as he really didnt light it up this year and wants to stay.

Townsend- they let him test the market for CB's in their mid 30's

Parker- They let him go. Mendenhall, Moore, Summers, (Redman, a free agent or rookie pick ) can handle the load.

Colon- If they cant sign him long term, they give him a qualifying offer for 1 year and probably draft his replacement this year in Bulaga, Bruce Campbell, Kyle Calloway, Sam Young, etc.

Reed- offer him a contract, but if cant agree, they can transition tag him or let him go and pick a kicker in the 4th round. (or Czech)

Steeldude
01-24-2010, 02:32 PM
the steelers have played the same or better with hoke.

Chidi29
01-24-2010, 02:55 PM
the steelers have played the same or better with hoke.

When he was in his late 20s...

mulldog24
01-24-2010, 11:35 PM
If we don't sign Hampton then we could draft Dan williams NT Tenn. or T.Cody NT Alabama. I watched the Shrine Game and was pretty impressed with Torrell Troupe. He was allways around the ball and seemed to plug the middle pretty well and show good hustle against some pretty good college O-line prospects. I think he weighed in at 6' 2" and 310 lbs. He might be able to rotate in with Hoke for a year and provide some good depth.

lionslicer
01-24-2010, 11:42 PM
When he was in his late 20s...

True.. Hoke is a year older than Hampton. I can see Casey going to the texans, he lives down there and they need a big boy like him.

Maybe we can get Gibert Brown or Ted Washington to come out of retirement :P

austinfrench76
01-25-2010, 12:34 PM
Franchise Hampton (draft repacement), transtitio tag Reed and Sign colon (i guess they love this guy). We need corners! Just sayin...

steelreserve
01-25-2010, 12:41 PM
Today: Nose Tackle Casey HAMPTON

Monday: Safety Ryan CLARK

Tuesday: Running Back Willie PARKER

Wednesday: Cornerback Deshea TOWNSEND

Thursday: Right Tackle Willie COLON

Friday: Kicker Jeff REED

Gee, it would've been nice if they could've re-signed at least one of those guys during the season instead of carrying $5 million in vacant cap space.

But no, I'm glad they let it go to waste so they could keep up some abstract team tradition. Really, nothing helps the team more than letting a good free agent walk while you sit on the money that could've kept him around. I'll just trust that the front office knows what they're doing on this one, thanks. :cheer:

Steely McSmash
01-25-2010, 12:51 PM
....if Dean Pees, who was last with New England,, becomes the DC (Though those talks have cooled off some. Sounds like it could be from an in-house guy). Pees worked with another big NT in New England in Wilfork.


Wilfork is also an UFA this year and he's only 27. Could lower the market for Hampton a bit.

Chidi29
01-25-2010, 06:44 PM
Wilfork is also an UFA this year and he's only 27. Could lower the market for Hampton a bit.

I'd guess that Wilfork doesn't end up leaving. And if he re-signs, the market will flood back open with Hamp being the top dog. Even if Wilfork signs, there will be plenty of interested teams. The Patriots would need a NT in that situation.

Question. Say the Steelers are good on their word and don't franchise Hampton. Then what do we do?