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View Full Version : Hard calls for Steelers? No, not one


Vis
02-27-2013, 07:13 AM
Next week marks the one-year anniversary of the Steelers (http://triblive.com/sports/steelers/)' cutdown beyond compare, the cumulative release of James Farrior, Aaron Smith and Hines Ward over three days. Just like that, three players who helped forge two Super Bowl titles, three powerful presences ... all gone.

One can only imagine how hard - no, excruciating - those calls must have been for Kevin Colbert and Mike Tomlin to make.
So one can further imagine their relief at having nothing of the kind this time around.

No, really.

For all the fuss in these parts that more big names might soon be booted, that James Harrison and Casey Hampton could be next, here's what seems to be escaping notice: The Steelers won't really have much to do with any of these calls.

Bearing in mind the deadline for Colbert and Omar Khan to slash roughly $14 million and meet the NFL's salary cap for free agency is March 12, and that contract restructuring already in motion will mostly take care of that, let's take a personnel inventory:

• If one assumes, as I do, that Mike Wallace will take his talent - that's singular - to South Beach, then Keenan Lewis will be the biggest ticket at hand.

I got the sense from Lewis near season's end he genuinely wants to stay, but he just as genuinely wants to be paid. Thus, he, like the rest of the Steelers' pending free agents, should be expected to test the open market.

This is about as close as the Steelers will come to a hard call. Lewis had a strong first season as a starter, and he'll deserve what he gets. But the top 10 corners in the league made $8 million or more. If Lewis is offered anything in that stratosphere, I'm backing off. The Steelers need to pick a number, then hold to it.

That's no dig at Lewis. Rather, it's a two-pronged consideration that Cortez Allen showed late in the season he can handle corner, too, and that Allen - unlike everyone else on this defense - could take the ball away more than once per lunar cycle.

It would be wonderful to have Lewis back, but the Steelers can't - and don't need to - overpay.

• Rashard Mendenhall, Max Starks, Ramon Foster, Larry Foote, Wallace and the rest of the pending free agents will test the market, too. Mendenhall won't be - and shouldn't be - welcomed back, but the Steelers surely would retain Starks, Foster and Foote at the right price.

Trouble is, that's realistic only with Foote. Teams need offensive linemen. Starks will get paid, and Foster will get his wish for a starting role. If Foote returns, it will be at a far lower rate than his 2012 cap hit of $3.6 million. Maybe even the NFL's minimum of $940,000.

The market will dictate all this far more than the Steelers.

• Hampton played better than most seem to realize this past season, but he'll turn 36 in December. Just as significant, Steve McLendon made enough splash plays at nose tackle that he eminently deserves to start. If Hampton gets a two-year offer somewhere or is promised a starting role, he should grab it and run. But if all he hears is one year, he'll likely stay.

With all respect to Hampton's achievements, the Steelers would be crazy to offer more.

• Harrison's play steadily improved right through season's end, but he'll be 35. If the Steelers were to cut him and the two years left on his contract - that's $6.57 million in 2013, $7.58 million in 2014 - they'd save $5.1 million in a cap hit for 2013.

That's attractive, sure, but is it worth it?

No way. Not with a wobbly, brittle Jason Worilds next in line. And most especially not with a glaring need for someone, anyone, to rush the passer until the real LaMarr Woodley rematerializes.

Harrison's agent, Bill Parise, has squawked about how his client shouldn't take a pay cut. The Steelers, naturally, would prefer a pay cut to a restructuring. But they're also smart enough to realize another team will pay Harrison at his existing terms.

Here's betting all concerned will wait for other matters to be settled, then work out a deal that helps the team manage the cap and protect itself against injury. This might linger until Latrobe.

Even here, the Steelers really don't have much of a call to make.

If Harrison wants to stay with the team that gave him a chance as an undrafted free agent out of Kent State, the one with which he was the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year, the one with which he pounded out 100 yards for the greatest defensive play in Super Bowl history, it'll get worked out.

If he wants to be stubborn, well, then we will see another big cutdown.


Read more: http://triblive.com/sports/dejankovacevic/dejancolumns/3558337-74/steelers-lewis-million#ixzz2M6YsHSWv

VaDave
02-27-2013, 10:51 AM
Harrison feels he earned the twelve million the Steelers owe him for the next two years, and isn't going to settle for once cent less out of the Rooneys. From what I gather, the Steelers can pay him about half of that, and fit it under the cap with no problem. I'm pretty sure a GM out there would call him a steal at 4 mill a year, and If I were a betting man, odds are, Harrison would walk for it in a heartbeat.

Keep in mind, this is the guy that literally went insane over a $10,000 fine. You think a guy like that is going to settle for a 50% paycut?? No way.

steelfury02
02-27-2013, 11:54 AM
I wouldn't be shocked by anything at this point - I'm uber nervous about our depth at about 50% of our positions - total - both sides of the ball

ILB, OLB, Safety, Corner, D-line (pick a spot), RB, WR, TE . . . holy crap when you put it on paper

No one is evening mentioning what losing Heath for a portion of the season could do

Fire Haley
02-27-2013, 12:10 PM
whistling past the graveyard

losing what little young talent that's left on an 8-8 team shouldn't be cause for celebration

Colbert better have the draft of the century - and no more 3 year contracts!

SteelersCanada
02-27-2013, 01:36 PM
Bad ideology. Cut the guys that are underperforming and/or too old. Harrison, Polamalu, Keisel and Foote all fit this bill. Stop pushing money into further years and damaging our cap space worse down the road. Say goodbye to these guys.

sloppyjoe
02-27-2013, 01:59 PM
Bad ideology. Cut the guys that are underperforming and/or too old. Harrison, Polamalu, Keisel and Foote all fit this bill. Stop pushing money into further years and damaging our cap space worse down the road. Say goodbye to these guys.

throw colon and clark in this group also.
people want to say 'we only lost 3 games by 3 or 4 points. we were injured"
well, we won 3-4 games by 3or 4 points also. we were an 8-8 team. bringing these same guys back at their current salary would maybe get us 10 wins next year, if we stay healthy. time to cut bait

FrancoLambert
02-27-2013, 05:00 PM
I wouldn't be shocked by anything at this point - I'm uber nervous about our depth at about 50% of our positions - total - both sides of the ball

ILB, OLB, Safety, Corner, D-line (pick a spot), RB, WR, TE . . . holy crap when you put it on paper

No one is evening mentioning what losing Heath for a portion of the season could do

I'm totally with you.

We have so many needs. Which one's the most urgent?

Colbert has to hit this draft out of the park.

VaDave
02-27-2013, 05:23 PM
I wouldn't be shocked by anything at this point - I'm uber nervous about our depth at about 50% of our positions - total - both sides of the ball

ILB, OLB, Safety, Corner, D-line (pick a spot), RB, WR, TE . . . holy crap when you put it on paper

No one is evening mentioning what losing Heath for a portion of the season could do

Nothing wrong with 3 or 4 year contracts, just not for $61 million dollars worth on a load.....

We are going to have some holes for sure.

steeltheone
02-27-2013, 06:22 PM
Harrison feels he earned the twelve million the Steelers owe him for the next two years, and isn't going to settle for once cent less out of the Rooneys. From what I gather, the Steelers can pay him about half of that, and fit it under the cap with no problem. I'm pretty sure a GM out there would call him a steal at 4 mill a year, and If I were a betting man, odds are, Harrison would walk for it in a heartbeat.

Keep in mind, this is the guy that literally went insane over a $10,000 fine. You think a guy like that is going to settle for a 50% paycut?? No way.

4 million could also be way to much when a 35 year old linebacker with a bad back plays 7 games.

This is a what have you done lately for me league( salary cap). Harrison is now on the decline. Pay Cut or end your career in some town that does not give 2 shits about you.

harrison'samonster
02-27-2013, 06:41 PM
4 million could also be way to much when a 35 year old linebacker with a bad back plays 7 games.

This is a what have you done lately for me league( salary cap). Harrison is now on the decline. Pay Cut or end your career in some town that does not give 2 shits about you.

actually I find it interesting that we heard a while ago that Harrison was ok with restructuring, yet with all the news lately we haven't heard that the team was talking to him about restructuring

tanda10506
03-01-2013, 09:59 AM
Foote was definitely not under performing last year and Harrison got better as he got healthier. The question is, will the FO keep a shell of 2008 and try for another year with a similar core group or will they totally rebuild? If we are starting from square one then anyone who only has a year or two of capability left should be gone. However, if they want to try to field the best team possible for next year then they can't let Harrison go with nobody behind him or Foote go with Spence basically still a rookie.

SteelersCanada
03-01-2013, 10:16 AM
I wouldn't be shocked by anything at this point - I'm uber nervous about our depth at about 50% of our positions - total - both sides of the ball

ILB, OLB, Safety, Corner, D-line (pick a spot), RB, WR, TE . . . holy crap when you put it on paper

No one is evening mentioning what losing Heath for a portion of the season could do

We're fine at CB. Even if Lewis leaves (which I don't think is going to happen) then we have Allen waiting in the wings who showed he's more than capable of taking over the starting CB duties. Behind him, we have a very capable and very intriguing prospect in DeMarcus Van Dyke - someone who I have a lot of faith in. While Curtis Brown hasn't really done anything, he has proven to be a decent Dime CB and Victorian was improving when given snaps.

I think we're solid along the DLine, especially at DT. Ta'amu, McLendon and Fanupo have it locked down. I'd take any one of those three over Hampton right now anyway.

I think the rest of the positions are a little up in the air though, you're right. There's little-to-no depth at ILB behind LT and it's looking like the guys we've tried to replace Farrior and Foote with are just warm bodies for Special Teams. This is something that needs to be addressed. RB and TE have no depth either. WR is a little different though. I trust AB and Manny and I have confidence we're going to be drafting another WR in the upcoming draft, too. Someone like Rodney Smith that has size and compliments the skillsets of AB and Manny would be perfect and suddenly, we're all set.

While there's reason for concern, there's no reason for panic. I think we'll be ok.