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Lady Steel 02-12-2014 05:04 PM

Colbert on cap, free agency, '14 draft
Colbert on cap, free agency, '14 draft
Bob Labriola
Steelers Digest

Steelers General Manager Kevin Colbert is excited about the pool of talent to be available in the 2014 draft.

There isn’t much that Kevin Colbert hasn’t seen in his 30 years evaluating player personnel for three different NFL teams. Until this year, that is.

“I’m telling you,” said the Steelers’ GM about the talent available in this draft class of 2014, “it’s as deep across the board as any draft I’ve seen in 30 years.”

But as always, the actual drafting of the players come May 8-10 will remain a high-stakes guessing game.

“A lot of (the depth of talent in the draft class) is due to the influx of the underclassmen,” said Colbert, “but what I will also say in regards to that is, although it’s a talented group, it also has a bigger chance of failing because you’re going to get a lot of kids who aren’t physically or emotionally ready for (the NFL). We’re concerned about how many of those players came out prematurely and won’t be ready for this next challenge. I think that we have to be able to sort through them, because they’re not all ready for this.”

The NFL Scouting Combine begins next week in Indianapolis, and that event serves as the unofficial kickoff to the pre-draft process, and Colbert and the Steelers’ scouts have been meeting throughout this week to prepare for that. But there are a number of other personnel issues that will crop up for the Steelers before the NFL Draft, which was moved back two weeks to May 8-10, and today Colbert addressed some of those.

In chronological order, starting Monday, Feb. 17 and running until March 3 is the window in which teams are permitted to place the franchise tag or transition tag on one of their free-agents-to-be. Each team is permitted to use either the franchise tag or the transition tag, but not both. Colbert described the chances of the Steelers tagging one of their free agents as “doubtful.”

Following that window, the next significant date on the NFL’s offseason calendar is March 11, which is when all teams will have to be in compliance with the 2014 salary cap, March 11 is also the opening day of free agency.

“As always, we have some work to do to be in compliance by March 11,” said Colbert. “Looking at it, we think everything will be manageable within that time frame. But again, you have to discuss terminations, restructurings, and extensions, and try to accomplish that. Then, are we a dollar under the cap or are we $3 million under the cap? We won’t know that really until we get to March 11. You hope to have maneuverability at that stage.”

In the area of “terminations, restructurings, and extensions,” Colbert said the Steelers are at the stage right now where they’re exploring different ideas with different players. Colbert said “discussions” is a more appropriate word for what is happening right now in that regard than “negotiations.”

Colbert also disagreed with the notion that the Steelers have mismanaged their cap situation over the previous seasons to the extent it created the problems they’re having today.

“The goal was always to compete for a Super Bowl championship, and to win a championship, obviously, you've got to get in the playoffs,” said Colbert. “We’re never going to say, ‘OK, we know we’re not a contender. We’re going to gut this thing and start over.’ It will never be acceptable for this organization to gut it and start over. Our challenge is to compete and improve at the same time, and so we did what we thought we should do with the cap.

“That’s our challenge again this year: to take what we have from a cap standpoint plus where we are from a record standpoint and improve them both. Can you look back on decisions and say, ‘Boy, I wish I would have done this or that?’ Sure, but you can do that with draft picks, with every signing. I don’t fault this philosophy as to why we did what we did. There was a reason we did everything, be it short-term cap gain or for long-term security for a player.”

Colbert would not discuss particular individuals, but he did say the Steelers would like to re-sign some of their own free agents, and he believed that signing some of their own free agents was a distinct possibility.

“You evaluate your own group (of free agents) internally, and then you evaluate your own group against the potential outside group,” said Colbert about the process the Steelers go through. “We don’t even have an accurate picture of what the outside group is yet. We are probably 90 percent accurate on who will be free agents, because some players will void their contracts and others might be re-signed. We have a general idea, but until March 11 comes, we won’t have a concrete list.”

Colbert said that it’s possible to keep LaMarr Woodley and re-sign unrestricted free agent Jason Worilds from a salary cap standpoint, but he also acknowledged Woodley having missed 14 games over the last three seasons because of injuries is a concern.

“LaMarr has had some durability concerns over the past couple of seasons. They have been legitimate injuries,” said Colbert. “Any time a player has an injury, if it extends beyond the season, it does become a concern. It has to be, because if the player is not on the field he isn’t helping us. But it would be a concern for any player who has missed extended time.”

Lady Steel 02-12-2014 05:29 PM

Re: Colbert on cap, free agency, '14 draft
Colbert: Steelers "have some work to do"
By Ed Bouchette / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Between now and the March 11 start of free agency in the NFL, the Steelers “have some work to do to be in compliance” with the salary cap that could include contract “terminations, restructures and extensions” along with players taking pay cuts, general manager Kevin Colbert said this afternoon.

“We think everything will be manageable,’’ said Colbert, speaking to a handful of beat writers at the Steelers’ offices on the South Side.

Some of that could be painful as veteran players are either released while under contract or not re-signed when their contracts expire March 11, as the Steelers have done the past few years with notoriety.

However, Colbert said they are in discussions with some of their own impending free agents to see if they can sign them to new contracts.

“It’s safe to say we’re exploring different ideas with different players,” Colbert said, adding that there is a “distinct possibility” they could sign some before they would become free agents.

One of those high on their list is Jason Worilds, although Colbert did not single him out. Previously, team president Art Rooney II mentioned Worilds as one they’d like to keep.

There has been a debate whether they would keep Worilds or 29-year-old LaMarr Woodley, who lost his longtime position at left outside linebacker to the younger player during the 2013 season. Asked if they could keep both, Colbert answered, “Could we? Yes.’’

However, Colbert acknowledged Woodley’s injuries that have caused him to miss 14 full games and parts of others over the past three seasons and said that is a concern.

“LaMarr has had some [injury] concerns the last couple of seasons,’’ Colbert said, and while he called them legitimate injuries “if it extends beyond the season, it has to be a concern ... It would be for any player.’’

Colbert cited safety Troy Polamalu, who missed all but seven games in 2012 only to play every snap in 2013, as the “perfect example of someone who changed his [training] regimen with positive results.’’

The Steelers are encouraged by linebacker Sean Spence’s potential to overcome his devastating knee injury as a rookie in the 2012 preseaon that included nerve damage, especially after he had “one great day of practice” while still on the physically unable to perform list last fall. Colbert said it would be naďve of them to think Spence has gotten over the hump and will make it all the way back to playing again, but he will get the chance to show what he can do at least through training camp.

“Maybe the small sample he gave us [in practice] will show he can recover from his injury.’’

Among other points Colbert made today:

• They recognize that Ben Roethlisberger, who turns 32 on March 2, has “only so many snaps left” and “we have to surround him with talent.’’

“You’re fortunate to have a franchise quarterback,’’ Colbert said. “There’s nobody we’d rather have than Ben. We realize he doesn’t have 10 years left . . . Hopefully he stays healthy and we get the maximum number of years out of him.

“We have to make the most of those years we have left with our franchise quarterback.’’

• The Steelers are "never going to say, ‘OK, we're not going to be a contender, let's gut this thing and start over’ . . . I never want to see that day.’’

• Joey Porter, added to the coaching staff on Tuesday, should help Jarvis Jones at right outside linebacker, where Porter excelled in his playing days with the Steelers.

• The Steelers situation at safety and cornerback is “probably not as deep as we’d like to be at either” and that “it depends on who leaves or who stays, that depth will change.’’

• On the team’s second straight 8-8 record, Colbert feels, as does Art Rooney II, that the end of the 2013 season was more encouraging than a year previously.

“You can’t minimize the job coach Tomlin and the players did after an 0-4 start” but to ignore they were 8-8 for two straight years would be “to ignore the obvious.’’

• The group of prospects available in the May draft is “as deep across the board as any draft I’ve seen in 30 years.” But Colbert is concerned that many in the record-number of underclassmen opting for the draft will not be ready for the next step, thus the group “has a bigger chance of failing.’’

Lady Steel 02-12-2014 05:39 PM

Re: Colbert on cap, free agency, '14 draft
Colbert not detailing Steelers plan for free agency or new contracts
By Alan Robinson

General manager Kevin Colbert isn't dropping any hints about whether any of the Steelers' nearly two dozen free agents will return in 2014, saying there is still much shaking out to occur around the NFL before the start of free agency March 11.

Among the Steelers unrestricted free agents are linebacker Jason Worilds, defensive end Ziggy Hood and Brett Keisel and wide receivers Emmanuel Sanders and Jerricho Cotchery.

During his annual post-season wrap-up news conference Wednesday, Colbert wouldn't comment about any individual player's contract status – including whether quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's contract will be extended or reworked.

But he also said that, despite having a league-high seven players who currently count $8.4 million or more against the cap, the Steelers have not mismanaged the cap. And he said the Steelers won't ever be in the position of having to blow out numerous players to create cap room and, essentially, start over with younger players.

However, he said the Steelers “are open to changing it” – namely, their approach of keeping older, productive players even after they have gone into costly second and third contracts. Teams such as the Broncos and Patriots take a different approach by constantly turning over their rosters.

Colbert also called the second 8-8 season in a row “disappointing,” but he commended coach Mike Tomlin and the players for rebounding to win eight of 12 and six of the final eight.

“But it still wasn't good enough,” he said. “Nobody was good enough, including myself.”

Colbert also said it's “a concern” when a player such as outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley keeps having ongoing health issues that keep him off the field, but he wouldn't say if the Steelers might cut him – a costly move given the $14 million dead money hit in salary cap space they would absorb.

Colbert also said:

--- The 2014 draft class is the deepest he's seen in 30 years, but with more than 100 undergraduates declaring early, there are players who simply aren't ready for the league.

--- Former Pro Bowl linebacker Joey Porter is an “exciting” addition to the coaching staff who made a difference in his only season on alma mater Colorado State's staff. He said outside linebacker Jarvis Jones should especially benefit from working with Porter, just as the entire offensive line will be helped by new assistant Mike Munchak, the former Titans head coach.

--- The Steelers are “exploring different options” in the 2014 free agency class, but he wouldn't give any indication if they will be more active in free agency this year.

--- Players such as safety Ryan Clark are “free to have an opinion” – Clark said last week that multiple Steelers player smoke marijuana as pain relief and for stress – but it's not “the organization's opinion.”

--- The Steelers would never discriminate against a player such as Missouri linebacker Michael Sam because he is gay, and he will be evaluated the same as any other prospective player.

--- Having a franchise quarterback such as Roethlisberger is a huge plus, and “There's no one we'd rather have.” He indicated the Steelers probably won't look at drafting another quarterback this year, even though Roethlisberger will be 32.
“But he doesn't have 10 years (left),” Colbert said. “Two, three, five seasons? We don't know.”

--- He doesn't know if the Steelers will lose a draft pick for coach Mike Tomlin's sideline misstep in Baltimore that resulted in a $100,000 fine.

SteelersCanada 02-12-2014 05:51 PM

Re: Colbert on cap, free agency, '14 draft
For those interested, here's our current cap situation:

Ike, Troy, Levi and Woodley (designated with a post June first) are all potential cap casualties.

SteelersCanada 02-12-2014 07:02 PM

Re: Colbert on cap, free agency, '14 draft
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>'It will never be acceptable for this organization to gut it and start over' - <a href="">@steelers</a> GM Kevin Colbert

READ: <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) <a href="">February 13, 2014</a></blockquote>
<script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script>

Hawaii 5-0 02-19-2014 11:16 PM

Re: Colbert on cap, free agency, '14 draft
David Todd ‏@DavidMTodd:

#Steelers GM Kevin Colbert : “I think there is a possibility that we will be more active in free agency than we have been in the past.”

SteelReserve916 02-19-2014 11:43 PM

Re: Colbert on cap, free agency, '14 draft

Originally Posted by Hawaii 5-0 (Post 1267865)
David Todd ‏@DavidMTodd:

#Steelers GM Kevin Colbert : “I think there is a possibility that we will be more active in free agency than we have been in the past.”

More out of necessity, than anything else.

Steel_Bus_24 02-20-2014 08:11 AM

Re: Colbert on cap, free agency, '14 draft

Good news...salary will be raised higher then expected....when your up against it like the steelers...every penny helps

Hawaii 5-0 02-21-2014 12:35 AM

Re: Colbert on cap, free agency, '14 draft
Steelers' GM Colbert: This is most immature draft class I've seen

By Dan Parr
Published: Feb. 20, 2014

INDIANAPOLIS -- Steelers GM Kevin Colbert thinks this year's draft class is the deepest he's seen, but it's also the most immature class he's evaluated in his 30 years in the profession.

"Experience has told us that a lot of these younger players aren't ready for this," Colbert said Thursday at the NFL Scouting Combine. "It's a huge leap. I don't think a lot of them understand that until they actually get on a playing field and see the increase in the quality of play."

He's hinted before that this year's class is heavy with players unready for the NFL, but this was strongest critique yet of the group.

"We have to be prepared for more player development-type programs or maybe enhancing your player development so as to get the most out of these younger players."

With a record number of underclassmen declaring for this year's draft, it won't be a surprise to hear other personnel executives share similar views during the week in Indy.

Many of the underclassmen, including Jadeveon Clowney and Johnny Manziel, are among the highest-rated prospects available this year, and the juniors and redshirt sophomores that declared will be getting a particularly close look from teams at the combine. Given their shorter careers, there's less game tape available to evaluate than there is for seniors, and that means more work during the draft process for general managers to find out just what they're getting in a younger prospect.

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