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mesaSteeler
02-18-2011, 11:03 PM
Harris: Questions linger at linebacker
By John Harris, PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Saturday, February 19, 2011
http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_723693.html

There's a first time for everything.

Who thought the Steelers would have a $100 million quarterback?

Or a $50 million linebacker?

How about two $50 million linebackers?

Do I hear three?

James Harrison is the highest-paid linebacker in Steelers history. LaMarr Woodley, whom the Steelers designated Friday as their franchise player, may be about to join Harrison. And don't forget that a year from now Lawrence Timmons will be waiting his turn at the negotiating table.

That would be a lot of money to invest at one position and a major shift in philosophy for the Steelers.

The front office may consider their linebackers so important to the team's success that they're willing to extend the budget to keep all of them.

Having three talented linebackers in their prime is a nice problem to have. Unless, of course, you're signing the checks.

Harrison agreed to a five-year, $51.75 million contract two years ago that includes $20 million guaranteed and a $10 million signing bonus. He's due to earn $3.66 million in salary, plus a $900,000 roster bonus in 2011.

Woodley, an outside linebacker, has been waiting for the Steelers to take care of him since last summer. Getting the franchise tag is a start, as he is due about $10 million next season. Players who are franchised receive the average of the top five salaries at their position or 120 percent of their player's 2010 salary, whichever is greater

The Steelers also could try to Woodley to a long-term contract.

Even if Woodley doesn't command Harrison-type dollars, a signing bonus of at least $8 million isn't out of the question.

That's potentially $18 million in signing bonuses — guaranteed money — for Harrison and Woodley.

The total doesn't include what Timmons, the Steelers' leading tackler and best linebacker in pass coverage, could receive when his rookie contract expires after next season. Ring up another $10 million in a signing bonus for Timmons.

Can the Steelers afford to keep Harrison, Woodley and Timmons happy financially?

"I'm sure they're not going to pay three linebackers $8 million a year (apiece),'' said veteran sports agent Joe Linta, who represents Steelers offensive lineman Willie Colon and is familiar with how the team operates. "They're going to have to make a decision.''

Maybe the Steelers can convince Woodley to agree to a salary-cap friendly deal, less than Harrison's but enough to satisfy Woodley's ego. Another option could be to pay Woodley the one-year franchise tag while buying time to decide who to pay long-term, Woodley or Timmons.

Harrison? Even though he's older than Woodley and Timmons, Harrison is a special player and a team favorite. He has a job with the Steelers for as long as he wants.

The Steelers don't mind paying big money to their linebackers. They took care of Joey Porter for years, and they're taking care of Harrison now.

However, if the Steelers reward Woodley with a contract befitting one of the NFL's elite pass rushers, they'll break tradition, with two of their linebackers earning major dollars and facing the possibility of having to pay Timmons even more money in another year.

Is Woodley worth it? Yes. He's a great pass rusher, but the Steelers already have a great pass rusher in Harrison.

They also have Jason Worilds, another pass-rushing outside linebacker who was a second-round draft pick in 2010. Sooner or later, the Steelers need to find out if Worilds can play.

If Worilds is a player, someone has to go because the Steelers can't possibly pay top dollar for so many outside linebackers.

If money is an issue — it usually is with the Steelers — Worilds is cheaper to keep than Woodley.

Just like Harrison was cheaper to keep than Porter.

Timmons may be more valuable than Woodley because he plays inside linebacker and has the versatility to replace safeties Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark in certain packages.

Fellow inside linebacker James Farrior, who calls defensive signals, turned 36 in January. Because of Farrior's age, the Steelers may be more reluctant to lose Timmons than Woodley.

Or — surprise, surprise — maybe they'll decide to pay Harrison, Woodley and Timmons and cut back on salary at other positions they don't consider as important as linebacker.

Based on the Steelers' decision to franchise Woodley, there's a first time for everything.

Read more: Harris: Questions linger at linebacker - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_723693.html#ixzz1ENV8uWEF

steeltheone
02-19-2011, 01:46 AM
Harrison is the logical cut after next season. He will be 34. Just can't pay old players that type of money. Not when you have 26 year olds in the same mold.

ggoldman
02-19-2011, 04:06 AM
Harrison will play out his contract, and be done with the game. But he is our most disruptive LB, and wont be cut. Worilds is the replacement for Harrison, but only in a couple of years

Rick5895
02-19-2011, 04:41 AM
This probably has no bearing, but I wonder about the Steelers bringing back guys like Foote last year. Was it only to do with depth or did they have a smaller less obvious motive in place as well. One that says, sure go take the money (El and Foote) but when you are away yhou realize what you lost and how god this organization really is. Maybe a "hometeam" discount does come inot play here with Woodley but more importantly Timmons,.

pete74
02-19-2011, 04:56 AM
i said before the last season that i fely Harrison will be gone after 2011 season and it may happen. he is still better then Woodley right now but he is getting old and the Steelers almost always get rid of there aging players before they start to decline.

I love Harrison and it will be a sad day when we cut him lose but its inevidable. something will happen in 2011, Harrison will either get injured or lose a step.

i know everyone is thinking there is no way we cut Harrison but everyone said the same thing when i said we would get rid of Holmes before his latest troubles. we can not afford to resign Timmons with Harrison and Woodley making as much as they do so someone has to go and Woodley is the younger of the 2.

with that said, i belive we will draft a LB'er in one of the first 3 rounds of this years draft. for some reason everyone keeps talking about how moch depth we have at OLB'er but i dont see it. hopefully Worilds fans out and ends up being the next great OLB for us but thats no gurentee

steeltheone
02-19-2011, 11:29 AM
Harrison will play out his contract, and be done with the game. But he is our most disruptive LB, and wont be cut. Worilds is the replacement for Harrison, but only in a couple of years

Gotta roll with the punches...The only way we have stayed on top is getting rid of older players heading south.....

Atlanta Dan
02-19-2011, 11:56 AM
i said before the last season that i fely Harrison will be gone after 2011 season and it may happen. he is still better then Woodley right now but he is getting old and the Steelers almost always get rid of there aging players before they start to decline.

I love Harrison and it will be a sad day when we cut him lose but its inevidable. something will happen in 2011, Harrison will either get injured or lose a step.


Harrison has been very productive for 4 years - agreed that if the Steelers get a productive 5th year that may be it - unlike Ham and Lambert who had longer runs the OLB in the 3-4 seems to have shorter productive life span (which of course causes some concern about Woodley since next year will be his 4th year as a starter)

steelers33
02-21-2011, 09:32 AM
Where fine at outside linebacker people. The bigger concern is who is going to replace Casey Hampton and James Farrior.

steeltheone
02-21-2011, 11:24 AM
Hampton is not the player he was. They just gotta stick a young guy in for Farrior and let him learn. A young hungry fast middle linebacker.

Curtain_of_Steel
02-22-2011, 10:03 AM
"Worlids is cheaper than Woodley", lol The things they have in ccommon are: W, and O, an L. Both wear black and gold and play defense. Thats it, Worilds is not Woodley in any other comparsion.

No kidding, why is it that people think Worilds was drafted to replace Woodley, or anyone for that matter? He could have absolutely no bearing on anyone.

steelerchad
02-22-2011, 10:16 AM
"Worlids is cheaper than Woodley", lol The things they have in ccommon are: W, and O, an L. Both wear black and gold and play defense. Thats it, Worilds is not Woodley in any other comparsion.

No kidding, why is it that people think Worilds was drafted to replace Woodley, or anyone for that matter? He could have absolutely no bearing on anyone.


If the Steelers think Worilds can play then he will replace Harrison in 2012. That's the smartest move and the Steelers almost always make the smartest move for their longtime health.
The Steelers will use the fact that they can't pay Woodley as much because of Harrison's contract, once they get Woodley signed Harrison will be cut before 2012 so they can pay Timmons. Then Worilds will be put into Harrison's spot.
We will likely draft an ILB this year to replace Farrior in 2012. Foote coming back was also insurance for that spot. Thaddeus Gibson, who we release to hold the spot for Aaron Smith, should have been the one competing with Foote for Farrior's job in 2012. Now we'll start over with a new pick in the 2nd - 4th round for that spot.

That's just a guess based on how the Steelers have operated in the past. Big money guys almost never play out the end of their big contracts in Pittsburgh.