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Chidi29
02-15-2010, 06:04 PM
Ahh yes, it's a glorious time of year. Aside from the fact that we're going to have to get the dogsleds out in western PA pretty soon, the offseason is inching closer and closer. In what could be one of the more interesting offseasons we've had in awhile, if Kevin Colbert offered me a job with the team (I'll be waiting by the phone) my plan of attack would be as follows.

The first thing we'll focus on our pending free agents. The most notable ones are as follows.

FS Ryan Clark (UFA)
NT Casey Hampton (UFA)
RB Willie Parker (UFA)
K Jeff Reed (UFA)
ILB Rocky Boiman (UFA)
DE Nick Eason (UFA)
DE Travis Kirschke (UFA)
WR Joey Galloway (UFA)
CB Deshea Townsend (UFA)
QB Charlie Batch (UFA)
SS Tyrone Carter (UFA)

RT Willie Colon (RFA)
P Daniel Sepulevda (RFA)
FB Carey Davis (RFA)
RG Darnell Stapleton (RFA)
CB William Gay (RFA)
TE Matt Spaeth (RFA)

OLB Patrick Bailey (ERFA)
CB Anthony Madison (ERFA)

Clark is a bit of a tricky situation. He's a good compliment to Troy as he's a guy that can sit back in coverage and pick and choose his spots to be aggressive, but without him this season, he made a ton of mental mistakes and bad decisions. Partially stemming from him trying to be overly-aggressive and make the big play. If you can get him pretty cheap, I'd re-sign him because there is nothing behind him, but if it means we have to overpay to bring him back, I'd let him walk. 3 year, $16 million deal - $5 million guaranteed

Hampton is also a tough one and to me, I don't see how we can win. You know he wants a ton of money and has all the leverage to do so; he's been a worldly important piece to our run defense and two Super Bowls, we have nothing behind him, and he can get a ton of money on the market if our offer doesn't satisfy him. Especially with more and more teams switching to a 3-4 (Just read that after Buffalo and Washington likely to make the change, the total is now up to 15). Considering the fact that he is decllining and has work ethic issues in the past, he'd love to get a big deal with a lot of guaranteed money so he can coast and not suffer many consequences. I wouldn't re-sign him for the fact that he's going to cost too much and there's too great of a risk of him shutting it down and us being out a boatload of money. Franchising him has been the most possible opinion, but Hampton isn't happy with it. He's expressed his would-be displeasure if he got slapped with the tag and with good reason. No one likes getting franchises, especially declining NTs in their mid-30's with work ethic problems. I would franchise him, but you also have to draft a NT early or you'll likely be in the same spot this time next year with Hampton having a good deal of leverage. If we're not going to franchise him, however, as Hampton has said all season, I let him walk. Franchise Tag

Let Parker go. He actually didn't look that bad late in the season as he had healed from his turf toe, but it's time to bring some fresh blood in. We broke Parker down by giving a guy of his frame back-to-back seasons of 330+ carries a few seasons ago. It's time to cut ties and I expect us to do so. Let him walk

I'd do everything in my power to keep Reed. It's tough kicking at Heinz and aside from some early season struggles, was once again money. Had some big kicks down the stretch for us. A lot of fans are concerned with the distance on kickoffs, but that looks more like a product of him being asked to sacrifice distance for hangtime and direction. In the Green Bay game, he was kicking it to the goalline so you know he's capable of doing so. He was probably just told not to. Couldn't give you that great of a number but I'll throw out, 4 years 13 million - 4 million guaranteed

Boiman didn't make much of an impace and we've brought in multiple linebackers to compete for special team duty. However, I'm a big advocate of putting as many cooks in the kitchen as possible and see who makes the best sufle. 1 year deal, vet minimum

Eason was ok and does have veteran status. I'm very shaky about Aaron Smith's health so I'm ok with getting Eason on the cheap. He'd be on the bubble in camp, it's not like signing him would involve much of a committment. I do hope Sonny Harris is able to build upon his strong preason last year in an effort to get younger on the D-line. 1 year, $1 million

Kirschke played well in relief for Smith, much to my surprise. You do have to have some veteran experience on this line as part of your backups/rotations and even at the age of 36, I'm willing to go a little farther than a one year deal. Of course, I'd make sure I can freely cut him two years from now if he declines or if I really like what I see from Harris. 2 years, $4 million, $1 million guaranteed

Galloway didn't even dress. With Sweed coming off of IR, there isn't a place for Joey. Let him walk

Let Deshea go. He had a good career with us and is probably a great guy, but the guy's lack of speed isn't worth it, even in LeBeau's zone scheme. Give Joe Burnett and Keenan Lewis a chance for more playing time. Let him walk

I'd let Batch go. He has been one of the better backups in the league for awhile and he's an extremely smart guy, but Dixon can't be the 3rd stringer forever and overall, was impressive in his lone start against Baltimore. Let him walk

I don't think Carter is as bad as people made him out to be, it's always tough trying to fill in for a guy of Troy's caliber, but it's about time to get fresh legs as a backup who might be more of a capable starter. Let him walk

Colon is a no-brainer. Steelers fans still think the guy isn't that good, but he played great this year. Was our best lineman. Put a 1st and 3rd tender on him, force him to show that he can be a top guy two years in a row, and then re-sign him to a big deal next offseason if he proves that. 1st and 3rd tender

I didn't even realize Sepulevda was already an RFA. Time sure does fly fast when you're winning Super Bowls. He hasn't been great but there aren't many other options out there and we put a good sized investment in him for a punter (Traded up to take him in the 4th). I'm fine if we want to go with a 2nd round tender, but I think we can get away with the lowest possible, costing us a little over $1 mil and 4th round comp if we lose him (Though I'd be willing to match any offer). Low tender (Round drafted comp)

Davis does actually bring some special teams value for us and as Tomlin has said, he's been specifcally active to be back on punts against guys like Ed Reed when we play the Ravens. I wouldn't put a tender on him because I don't see one that makes sense, but would attempt to sign him to a short deal in the open market. It's not like there will be much of a market for him anyway. 2 years, $1.9 million

I've never been a fan of Stapleton though the team must see something in him. He isn't big and not overly athletic for his size. Guys like Ramon Foster and Doug Legursky are just as versatile. The two knee surgeries in three years is off-putting as well. Let him walk

Like Carter, Gay wasn't as bad as people think he was. He wasn't good by any means, but a lot of the mistakes came from him slipping (Which isn't a good thing mind you, but everyone slips at Heinz. It's just often more noticed at CB) or the mistakes of others or LeBeau's scheme. A perfect example of the former was Mark Clayton's 54 yard catch in the first meeting against Baltimore. Ryan Clark was supposed to be the safety help over the top with Gay playing the middle sidelines as our scheme often dictates, but Clark bit on Todd Heap's seam route. That left Clayton wide open. People think it's Gay's fault because he was running half-speed with Clayton at the beginning of the play and peeled off, but that's not because he got lost; that's because of the scheme and Clark's blown assignment. If you look at his YPC numbers, they're top 25, once being as high as second mid-way through the year. His catch % allowed numbers are among the worst in the league. That's consistent with LeBeau's scheme. Play your corners off as to not give up the big play and force teams to throw it underneath. The guy is talented and a good fit for our scheme (Especially since he's a willing and good tackler) and is the reason why we were comfortable with letting Bryant McFadden go last year. I give him another year. 2nd round tender

Spaeth has amounted to very little in his first few years with us. He basically got phased out of our offense as the year went on and while he's improved his blocking a little, he still isn't average in any department. He's just big. Maybe you give him a low tender (Cost you about $1 million and a team would have to give up a 3rd to get him so you're probably stuck with him) but I'd let him go. Let him walk

Bailey is exclusive rights, meaning that he can play for us or sit out the year. Not very good on kick coverage, pretty much everyone struggled there this season, but a smart, hard worker who is extremely good on covering punts. 3 years, $3.1 million

Madison continued to be a solid gunner for us. See no problem in giving the guy another deal and letting him once again prove his worth in camp. 2 years, $2.3 million

We're not very active in free agency with guys like Mewelde Moore and Keyaron Fox being our "big names" the past couple of seasons. I'd like to get a good blocking TE in the mix, especially useful in the short-yardage game where we struggled badly in.

Alge Crumpler comes to mind. He isn't much of a receiver anymore and has basically ballooned up to the size of a small lineman. 2 years, $5.5 million

As brought up to me by someone else when it occured, which I went back and looked at again on tape, it seemed like Tomlin was "recruiting" Chargers WR/special teams ace Kassim Osgood when we played San Diego, seemingly mouthing "I want you" to him. Osgood may be the best gunner in the league and would greatly help out our special teams which so badly struggled. The only issue I see is that Osgood wants to be a WR as well and will likely be sought after by mutliple teams. If we have a shot at him, do it in a heartbeat.

I'd like to see get a cheap NT, someone who is at least a big body, to again, keep some heat on Hampton, but there isn't anything out there. There isn't anything anywhere. With the CBA about to expire and a lot of guys changing to RFAs, there isn't much room for anyone to shake things up. The couple of guys that I did semi-like were RFAs and not worth chasing.

I'm on pretty shaky ground with the draft right now and don't want to speculate too much at this point. A NT, RG (Jon Asamoah from Illinois is a guy I like a lot and have touted for awhile), ILB, and either a speedy back or 3rd down running back all come to mind as possibilites. And I will say I'm heavily leaning towards Terrence Cody with the 18th pick, no pun intended.

Thoughts? Like, dislike, provided this hasn't put you to sleep.

supa_fly_steeler
02-15-2010, 06:12 PM
Like Carter, Gay wasn't as bad as people think he was. He wasn't good by any means, but a lot of the mistakes came from him slipping (Which isn't a good thing mind you, but everyone slips at Heinz. It's just often more noticed at CB) or the mistakes of others or LeBeau's scheme. A perfect example of the former was Mark Clayton's 54 yard catch in the first meeting against Baltimore. Ryan Clark was supposed to be the safety help over the top with Gay playing the middle sidelines as our scheme often dictates, but Clark bit on Todd Heap's seam route. That left Clayton wide open. People think it's Gay's fault because he was running half-speed with Clayton at the beginning of the play and peeled off, but that's not because he got lost; that's because of the scheme and Clark's blown assignment. If you look at his YPC numbers, they're top 25, once being as high as second mid-way through the year. His catch % allowed numbers are among the worst in the league. That's consistent with LeBeau's scheme. Play your corners off as to not give up the big play and force teams to throw it underneath. The guy is talented and a good fit for our scheme (Especially since he's a willing and good tackler) and is the reason why we were comfortable with letting Bryant McFadden go last year. I give him another year. 2nd round tender


At least some people agree with me.

A great article. I would let Bailey walk and let the CFL dude come in.

El-Gonzo Jackson
02-15-2010, 07:09 PM
Did I just see a post where you suggest annual salaries of:

$1.5 million to Carey Davis
$1.75million to Anthony Madison
$2.13million to Patrick Bailey

I wish I was invisible like Bailey and could make over $2million a year. I am thankful that Colbert isnt going anywhere. :doh:

Chidi29
02-15-2010, 07:36 PM
Did I just see a post where you suggest annual salaries of:

$1.5 million to Carey Davis
$1.75million to Anthony Madison
$2.13million to Patrick Bailey

I wish I was invisible like Bailey and could make over $2million a year. I am thankful that Colbert isnt going anywhere. :doh:

Of course, that isn't how contracts work, perfectly prorated out. For Bailey, you can backload that 3rd year and work towards an extension if you so choose. Cutting guys before that second year hit would also be an option with very little guaranteed money involved.

Bailey is an extremely hard worker with great technique on punt returns. I don't like him that much on kicks, but he's an ace on punts IMO.

Chidi29
02-15-2010, 07:38 PM
And by no means are my contract numbers exact. I'm basically just throwing stuff out there, especially with the smaller name guys like Madison and Davis.

Psyychoward86
02-15-2010, 08:18 PM
Osgood is interesting.......having either him or Madison (or both!) is a must. He'd probably come fairly cheap and maybe push Limas Sweed a little bit?

steeltheone
02-15-2010, 09:16 PM
Crumpler... No way

Northside Jonny
02-15-2010, 09:50 PM
I agree with most of that but , I think I would let Gay ,Bailey ,Boiman walk , and sign DeShea for one more.

Chidi29
02-15-2010, 09:58 PM
Crumpler... No way

I don't see why not. A lot of Steelers fans want us to improve the running game and Crumpler is a big body that can come in as the #2 TE in a singleback set. He's basically become another lineman in a tight end's spot. Sure beats any other blocking TE we have behind Miller.

Why wouldn't you want him?

Chidi29
02-15-2010, 10:00 PM
I agree with most of that but , I think I would let Gay ,Bailey ,Boiman walk , and sign DeShea for one more.

I think you gotta give Gay some sort of tender. The guy is still young and isn't as bad as people made him out to be for my aforementioned reasons.

To me, Deshea is way over the hill. I wouldn't give him a second look. And it does seem like he'll get a nibble out in the market. Rumor has it the Pats are interested.

Psyychoward86
02-15-2010, 10:35 PM
I agree with most of that but , I think I would let Gay ,Bailey ,Boiman walk , and sign DeShea for one more.

WAT

El-Gonzo Jackson
02-15-2010, 11:24 PM
Gay can at least get a 1 year tender. Bailey could have got cut last season as he offers no backup value at all at OLB and can easily be replaced instead of spending any real $$ on him. So too with Madison. Burnett, Lewis and the new DB drafted this year should be able to cover kicks.

Last year was the end for Carey Davis and if it wasnt for injury, he would not be back. He should again get replaced this year. I think its also the year we see Kirschke retire or let walk, considering that back problems, Ziggy Hood and Sunny Harris should push him off.

Have to remember that McHugh is still under contract and I dont know what Spaeth did in the last 2 years, but he isnt worth much of an investment to keep around IMO. Same with Stapleton, did better without him and no need to have him on the roster again.

Northside Jonny
02-16-2010, 09:11 AM
WAT

HUH?

steelreserve
02-16-2010, 11:35 AM
My thoughts are:

Gone:
Spaeth - gone because he sucks
Stapleton - gone because he sucks
Carter - gone because he sucks
Parker - gone because he sucks but we still have our heads up our asses and think he's good for some reason, but thankfully we can't afford him
C. Davis - training camp cut (no way are we paying him $1.5 mil if we did keep him, more like the league minimum)
Boiman - gone because the special teams sucked
Galloway - LOL
Batch - retires

Maybe:
Kirschke/Eason - One stays, one we let walk, which one I have no idea. Could let both walk if we draft another DL.
Gay - Could stay the starter, could get cut in preseason depending on how everyone does
Townsend - See above, only replace "starter" with "backup." Also could replace Carter as backup S. $1.5M at most.
Reed - No way are we paying him more than $2M, maybe $2.25. He wants more than that, we take our chances with someone else. Possibly we transition tag him this time because of the uncapped year, though.

Stay:
Hampton - Franchise, duh
Clark - keep, but more like $3-$4 million a year max, possibly more with incentives, otherwise we let him go
Madison - keep, but no way he's making $1.75M a year when we cut him at $1M last year, though. More like $500K
Bailey - keep, but $2M-plus a season? Are you kidding? He'll get the league minimum and be happy to be on the team.
Sepulveda - this is probably a better time to sign him long-term than RFA him. He's solid, but hasn't yet defined himself as amazing yet, so we could lock him up relatively cheaply. If he starts really kicking ass next year on a 1-year contract, we've got ourselves a Jeff Reed problem all over again.
Colon - High RFA tender, unless we can work out something longer with him at about that level.

As far as FA's go, I doubt we get a tight end. Johnson is a decent blocking TE, and we get McHugh back next year, remember? He's a much better blocker than Spaeth too.

If anything, in free agency I see us adding RB depth, a serviceable MLB, or a backup S to replace Carter. Probably a fifth WR who may or not make the team, but will have a legitimate shot for the fourth spot if Sweed doesn't have any marbles left. MAYBE a veteran OL if we decide Hills or Urbik isn't working out.

supa_fly_steeler
02-16-2010, 11:59 AM
WAT

His Opinion man.

Chidi29
02-16-2010, 06:37 PM
I did take Gonzo's advice and tone down some of the contract numbers a bit, for example, trying to compare Bailey's contract with the one Keyaron Fox got when he signed.

Chidi29
02-16-2010, 06:55 PM
Couple of comments in response to what Steelreserve posted.

Figure it'll be tougher to get Reed at the price considering Janikowski was just made the highest kicker in history. Think it was 4 years 16 million. Not that Reed is as good as him, but it's a great bargining chip for his agent that you know he'll use.

Like I told Gonzo, base salaries aren't prorated equally. They are typically backloaded (More money each year the contract goes through). So you figure that Clark would get around that $3-4 million mark the first two years, giving us the ability to cut him after that if that third year base salary isn't justified. Cap hit should be pretty minimal; assuming there's a CBA and a bunch of the old cap rules in place, you could easily prorate out the dead money from his signing bonus if you wanted to. It'd only be a bit over $1.5 mil.

Solid idea about Sepulevda.

Johnson was used much more as a FB than TE once he got more playing time. My memory of McHugh isn't that great since he was out this season, but I don't recall him to be anything more than an average blocker, though I agree he's better than Spaeth. Crumpler is one of the better blockers in the league today, even if his pass catching skills are basically gone. Not that we need them anyway.

There really isn't much in FA. With the CBA-less consequence making tons of guys RFAs, our usually conservative FA approach will only increase.

Psyychoward86
02-16-2010, 10:24 PM
Townsend - See above, only replace "starter" with "backup." Also could replace Carter as backup S. $1.5M at most.



Dang, i forgot all about Townsend. Maybe our situation at safety wont be so bad if he plays well at that spot for a year or two for us.

Anyone know how well (or not well) Deshea did at safety for us?

Chidi29
02-17-2010, 05:59 AM
Dang, i forgot all about Townsend. Maybe our situation at safety wont be so bad if he plays well at that spot for a year or two for us.

Anyone know how well (or not well) Deshea did at safety for us?

I only remember him playing in a few different packages and didn't make any noticable difference to me.

El-Gonzo Jackson
02-17-2010, 10:20 AM
Like I told Gonzo, base salaries aren't prorated equally. They are typically backloaded (More money each year the contract goes through). .


Base salaries are not pro-rated at all. Only the signing bonus is spread out among the duration of the contract. More up front in bonus allows the annual salary in the early years to be smaller.

The issue I have is why give overvalued contracts to special teamers like Bailey, Carey Davis and Anthony Madison, with larger signing bonus and minimal early contract values??? You still end up paying their guaranteed money and cap value, when you can easily replace them with other UDFA's or late round picks.........just like all 3 of them were.

Chidi29
02-17-2010, 04:52 PM
Base salaries are not pro-rated at all. Only the signing bonus is spread out among the duration of the contract. More up front in bonus allows the annual salary in the early years to be smaller.

The issue I have is why give overvalued contracts to special teamers like Bailey, Carey Davis and Anthony Madison, with larger signing bonus and minimal early contract values??? You still end up paying their guaranteed money and cap value, when you can easily replace them with other UDFA's or late round picks.........just like all 3 of them were.

I know they aren't prorated. That's what I was saying.

I think it'd be tough to find a guy like Bailey just because it's tough to find a guy as smart and with as good technique that he has. I remember reading early in the year that other teams would actually watch film of him to watch Bailey's technique. Apparently, one of the biggest ways of being able to keep your gap and not getting out of your lane is keeping your shoulders square as you run.

Our special teams suffered after losing guys like Chidi Iwuoma and Sean Morey. Heck, teams actually gameplanned against Chidi. Gunners aren't hard to find, but it's tough to master in some sense. Especially when a lot of college guys don't have experience and have to be taught. Lowering the prices I did to a more reasonable amount only gives us more incentive to sign them.

El-Gonzo Jackson
02-17-2010, 05:04 PM
I know they aren't prorated. That's what I was saying.

I think it'd be tough to find a guy like Bailey just because it's tough to find a guy as smart and with as good technique that he has. I remember reading early in the year that other teams would actually watch film of him to watch Bailey's technique. Apparently, one of the biggest ways of being able to keep your gap and not getting out of your lane is keeping your shoulders square as you run.

Our special teams suffered after losing guys like Chidi Iwuoma and Sean Morey. Heck, teams actually gameplanned against Chidi. Gunners aren't hard to find, but it's tough to master in some sense. Especially when a lot of college guys don't have experience and have to be taught. Lowering the prices I did to a more reasonable amount only gives us more incentive to sign them.

Bailey had 13 special team tackles and has no value as a backup OLB or ILB. He can and easily should be replaced by a rookie 4th round ILB pick, rather than be given any substantial money.

Same with Madison, a real good ST gunner and a luxury to have, but since he was cuty by the Browns and Colts, I would not rush to throw any money his way above minimum. Rookie DB's that want to stick like Burnett and Lewis need to step up and play ST. Same with the safety we will select this season.

Carey Davis is an absolute liability as a blocker and if not for the injuries to both Frank Summers and David Johnson, he would not be on the team. He's gone hopefully again.

Playing special teams is all about "want to" and being disciplined in your lanes. Bailey does a good job of that, but needs to be able to contribute as a backup before getting any decent size contract. He is not in the league of Keyaron Fox, Tully Banta-Cain or a young Larry Izzo were.

Chidi29
02-17-2010, 05:31 PM
You can't really quantify what a special teamer can do in pure numbers. If you do your job well enough, you'll actually lose chances at racking up stats because guys aren't running your way (Just in the way that Nnamdi Asoughma's stats aren't gaudy - they don't throw to him).

I'm fine with competition. I'm happy we're going out and signing Williams, Doggett, etc. The more the merrier. And since I brought down Bailey's and Madison's numbers, you can cut them with relative ease if someone else beats them out in camp.

I never saw anything in Davis, as most of us haven't, but according to Tomlin, the reason he was ever even active was as a blocker on punts. Although we can't see or or just don't plain notice it, that gives him some value.

El-Gonzo Jackson
02-17-2010, 05:44 PM
You can't really quantify what a special teamer can do in pure numbers. If you do your job well enough, you'll actually lose chances at racking up stats because guys aren't running your way (Just in the way that Nnamdi Asoughma's stats aren't gaudy - they don't throw to him).

I'm fine with competition. I'm happy we're going out and signing Williams, Doggett, etc. The more the merrier. And since I brought down Bailey's and Madison's numbers, you can cut them with relative ease if someone else beats them out in camp.

I never saw anything in Davis, as most of us haven't, but according to Tomlin, the reason he was ever even active was as a blocker on punts. Although we can't see or or just don't plain notice it, that gives him some value.

Thanks, but I have coached special teams, although only highschool....but I understand the value and the technique. (great resources to be found on AFCA.com) Guys like Bailey should be making a lot of tackles in punt coverage. Plus, a good kickoff cover guy will defeat his first wave blocker with a dip n'rip or jab step and get back in his lane to pursue and tackle.

Basically, you draft rookies to develop as backups and those developing backups should have the "want to" to contribute on special teams. Kind of like Harrison, Gay, Townsend, Taylor, etc did. I am just opposed to offering 2nd contracts to guys that are only special teamers. (unless they can punt, kick or snap).

I think the hope is that Doggett can play special teams and backup at ILB too. Then that leaves space for a developing OLB to be drafted that CAN actually backup at OLB instead of Bailey or Frazier wasting a spot. Bruce Davis' failure is the main reason Bailey is on the squad still.