View Full Version : Kovacevic: Steelers must keep cuts coming

03-02-2012, 07:30 AM
Kovacevic: Steelers must keep cuts coming

By Dejan Kovacevic
Friday, March 2, 2012

Nice of the Steelers to finally find time on their docket to show the franchise's greatest wide receiver the door.

Maybe it really did take 52 full days since the playoff loss in Denver for the front office to determine Hines Ward no longer was in their plans. Maybe they really were agonizing all that time. But if you believe that, then good luck explaining why they never approached Ward with any offer, even for the veteran minimum.

They knew they didn't want him. And yet they made him squirm for two months, reduced to begging to return on his Facebook page, before telling him Wednesday.

That was lousy, like so much else about this bizarre offseason for the seldom-bizarre Steelers.

But it's done now. And to repeat my oft-stated stance since season's end, it was absolutely the right move. Ward's tank was close to empty, as had become plainly and painfully evident.

Same was true, for that matter, of Aaron Smith and Chris Kemoeatu. Both were told Thursday that they, too, will be released.

No problem there, either.

Releasing Smith, 35, saves $2.11 million against the cap. This was a no-brainer after his many major injuries. He should have retired on his own. But he'd always said the team would have to "drag me kicking and screaming out of here," and that's how it played out.

Kemoeatu, 29, saved $2.39 million. His knee trouble had become so crippling he couldn't block a nuisance follower on Twitter.

Keep going with the cuts, I say.

A release of James Farrior, 37, would save $2.85 million against the cap. His performance fell off a cliff in 2011, as steeply as Ward's. His agent, Ralph Cindrich, hinted Thursday that Farrior will be next: "It's not a done deal, but the percentages just aren't there."

A release of Casey Hampton, 34, would save about $4.9 million, plus a $1 million "workout bonus." (Wouldn't you love to read the specifics of that clause?) Hampton hasn't played at an elite level in a while, and he tore his ACL for the third time in the Denver game. Kevin Colbert said last week he expects Hampton to return. I don't see why he should.

Hey, if Ward's fair game, who isn't?

Omar Khan, the Steelers' capologist, has slashed $37.39 million in 2012 salary in the past several weeks alone, mostly through players restructuring their contracts. It's been amazing work, really. If this man were in charge of the federal budget deficit, our nation could buy China by week's end.

But it still isn't enough.

Colbert estimated entering the offseason that the Steelers were $25 million over the cap. If so, they're now about $12.4 million under it. That might sound great, but it isn't. Not if this team is to remain a contender rather than undergo some sort of rebuilding.

The top need and that's exactly the right term is to sign Mike Wallace to a multiyear extension. And do it before March 13, after which teams will have at least a plausible chance of raiding the Steelers by offering huge up-front money.

This will cost, and it will cost big-time. But it would be well spent.

I've heard all kinds of goofy theories about how the Steelers might be better off letting Wallace walk, using his money on other needs and happily accepting a first-round draft pick as compensation.

It's nonsense.

For one, the money is there to be had. Just do more cutting.

For another, they preach in any business to build from your strengths. The receiving corps is the Steelers' primary positional strength other than quarterback but it would instantly become a weakness without Wallace. No receiver anywhere stretches the field like he does.

Some will suggest Antonio Brown could take his place at No. 1.

Come on.

If you're going to praise Brown for outplaying Wallace in the second half of last season which Brown did then you've also got to weigh that Wallace drew most of the double-coverage.

How would Brown fare in double-coverage, especially given his many route-running miscues?

Really want to find out?

Let's also see the Steelers keep Jerricho Cotchery for receiver depth. An experienced back to support Isaac Redman would be welcome, too. So would any help on the interior offensive line or middle linebacker.

Bottom line: It's paramount that the Steelers get younger. This was an old, slow roster in 2011, and it's only going to get older and slower without more moves like we've seen the past 48 hours.

Look out, China.

Dejan Kovacevic can be reached at dkovacevic@tribweb.com or .

Read more: Kovacevic: Steelers must keep cuts coming - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/print_784438.html#ixzz1nxhmV0Lo

03-02-2012, 09:26 AM
Good article. Also finally someone who agrees with a couple of us on Browns situation and his uprising and reasons why.

Didn't know Hampton gets a workout bonus, LOL Has he even worked out? Come on, he has got to reduce greatly which he won't, or he has to go. No one will sign him he is damaged goods. I rather roll the dice with Mclendon and draft a NT and work his ass off to be a contrubuting backup.

We still are making cuts that has not materially effected our starting lineup and core players. 37million and insigificant cuts.

03-02-2012, 10:03 AM
Well, as the saying goes, "You have to cut to cure."

I like everyone else am wincing over Ward's departure but it had to happen sometime and even though he could have "worked for wages", there's a time when nostalgia has to give way to reality.

But as far as Kemo, Smith and possibly Farrior and Hampton go, I have no problem with any of them being set free. Kemo has lost a step, but I'm really not sure if he ever really HAD a step to begin with. Smith WAS a force but hasn't been for a while and ever since he ripped his arm up, he simply hasn't been the same. Farrior still shows the occasional flash of brilliance as does Hampton, but their best days are behind them.

It always hurts to get rid of players who were part of something great or were favorites in the eyes of fans but in football, losing a step is like being the straggling Wildebeest at the back of the herd; the herd can try to protect him, but they all know that he's just a dinner that's still able walk.

03-02-2012, 10:25 AM
He sounds like a cry baby. The Steelers are doing exactly what they have planned to do all along. He makes it sound as if the team is some cellar team that doesn't have a clue on how to build a winner.

Facts are the Steelers are in the playoff hunt year in and year out with very few missed. That is the true measure of a great organization. You can't expect to win a SB every year but getting into the second season and fighting for one is what counts.

Seems like the organization was loyal to players the last couple of years and they got what they could out of many of the players. Now as an organization they are moving on and cutting off some of the vets. It happens its a young mans game. No sense in crying about it.

03-02-2012, 02:41 PM
Cutting dead weight is the smart thing to do. There are some great young players waiting to step up. And there is more room to fill the holes that exist if the dead weight is gone. Roster spots are like gold. They can't be wasted on nostalgic reasoning like they have done with Aaron Smith the past couple years. I love Smith as a player as much as most but that was when he could stay healthy.

03-02-2012, 02:43 PM
And we have yet to cut anyone that really contributed last year.

Hampton would be the exception, but Mclendon filled in good enough, 600- vs the obscene amount hampton would make. I'll use a coupon and take mclendon, lol

03-02-2012, 02:53 PM
good article, I agree with the cuts that have been made so far but Wards...I understand its just business but they didnt even offer him a pay cut, I think he woulda took the vet minimum just to play 1 more season and finish his career the way he and the rest of us wanted.

I just hope we don't lose mike wallace for a late first round pick

03-02-2012, 02:54 PM
I'm glad we are 12 million under the cap, when I was guessing around 10. My guess we keep both Cotch and Wallace. Wish we would have drafted a NT last year, so we could have cut Hampton for even more of a savings.

03-02-2012, 03:00 PM
good article, I agree with the cuts that have been made so far but Wards...I understand its just business but they didnt even offer him a pay cut, I think he woulda took the vet minimum just to play 1 more season and finish his career the way he and the rest of us wanted.

I just hope we don't lose mike wallace for a late first round pick

I wanted him back, but he would have been reduced to the fifth string receiver. We're looking at a guy who would catch less than half of what he caught this year, and can't even play special teams. That's not worth the "Vet minimum". Goodbye Ward, thanks for the memories.

03-02-2012, 03:08 PM
I disagree, I think Ward's decision was tough for the FO, I dont see then purposely screwing him around like that.