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Old 02-08-2009, 11:37 PM   #1
Justano
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Arrow No more celebrating as Steelers start preparing for 2009

PITTSBURGH -- The catch was made, the confetti dropped, the trophy presented, the Super Bowl won. The celebratory parade drew hundreds of thousands, and the TV show appearances and endorsements are only beginning.

It's been less than a week since Santonio Holmes' dramatic touchdown reception lifted the Pittsburgh Steelers to their second Super Bowl victory in four seasons and the sixth in franchise history.

Super Bowl XLIII: Steelers 27, Cardinals 23

But already, they're just another team looking to win next season.

With free agency starting in three weeks and numerous personnel decisions facing the Steelers, their Super Bowl run is making them play catch-up in one area: offseason preparations.

"I've got to have some sense of that, understand that we're a month behind in getting ready for '09," coach Mike Tomlin said. "We've got to be thoughtful in how we prepare our football team."

To director of football operations Kevin Colbert, the Steelers' record isn't 15-4, it's 0-0. So much for enjoying the moment.

"Everybody here works toward a common goal, and that's winning," Colbert said.

What complicates matters is that winning -- the Steelers are 63-26 the past five seasons, counting the playoffs -- increases what players are worth, stretches the salary cap and forces an overhauling of positions.

"There will be a new 53-man roster," Tomlin said. "A lot of the faces will be the same, but nothing stays the same in this game."

The Steelers could have as many as 12 unrestricted free agents on Feb. 27, including offensive linemen Max Starks, Chris Kemoeatu, Marvel Smith and Trai Essex, punter Mitch Berger, quarterbacks Charlie Batch and Byron Leftwich, linebacker/special teams ace Keyaron Fox, cornerback Bryant McFadden and wide receiver Nate Washington.

They may have to choose between Smith, who has missed big chunks of the last two seasons with back problems, and Starks, the only offensive lineman to start both of their last two Super Bowls. Leftwich wants a chance to start and is expected to leave, and Batch -- injured all season -- is amenable to returning as a backup.

McFadden figures to command more money elsewhere than the Steelers can afford to pay him, especially with William Gay waiting to play.

The Steelers would like to bring back Fox, their second-leading tackler on special teams, but Berger will be replaced by Daniel Sepulevda, who sat out this past season with a knee injury.

The Steelers traditionally do a good job of identifying which players with one season left on their contracts should be re-signed. The most prominent player expected to get a new deal is All-Pro linebacker James Harrison, the NFL Defensive Player of the Year and Super Bowl star.


Harrison has been one of the NFL's biggest bargains after signing a $5.5 million, four-year deal in 2006 before becoming a starter. He made $1.1 million as a Pro Bowl player in 2007 and $1.2 million this past season, when he set a club record with 16 sacks.

Other key players with one season left on their deals are wide receiver Hines Ward, tight end Heath Miller, defensive end Brett Keisel, safety Ryan Clark, kicker Jeff Reed, nose tackle Casey Hampton, linebacker Larry Foote and cornerback Deshea Townsend.

Defensive end is likely to be a Steelers priority in the next two years; Aaron Smith will be 33 next season, Keisel will be 31 and backup Travis Kirschke will be 35, so this may be a position targeted in the draft.

Foote, due to make more than $2.8 million next season, could be cut, as linebacker Joey Porter was two years ago when Harrison was ready to play. The Steelers don't want to keep 2007 first-round pick Lawrence Timmons on the bench, and letting Foote go would create more salary cap room.

The Steelers could have at least five restricted free agents, including right tackle Willie Colon, the most likely to be offered a new contract. Others include cornerback Anthony Madison, a key special teams player; safety Anthony Smith, linebacker Arnold Harrison and tight end Sean McHugh.

Once free agency and the draft are over, Tomlin said, "We're going to roll up our sleeves and start with a new group of men -- hopefully a lot of them will still be the same -- and go about our business of trying to compete in '09."

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What do you think the Steelers will do this offseason with the draft and free agency period??
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Old 02-09-2009, 12:52 AM   #2
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Default Re: No more celebrating as Steelers start preparing for 2009

Draft
=
OL
+
DL
&
Possible Franchise QB
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Old 02-09-2009, 01:29 AM   #3
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Default Re: No more celebrating as Steelers start preparing for 2009

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Draft
=
OL
+
DL
&
Possible Franchise QB
Yeah i have to agree with offensive line and defensive line but only defensive end and a possible cornerback fro draft also.. because bryant mcfadden might be a free agent.. so yeah.. but a franchise quarter back?? nah we havent even seen what dennis dixon is really made of..
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Old 02-09-2009, 06:23 AM   #4
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Default Re: No more celebrating as Steelers start preparing for 2009

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Yeah i have to agree with offensive line and defensive line but only defensive end and a possible cornerback fro draft also.. because bryant mcfadden might be a free agent.. so yeah.. but a franchise quarter back?? nah we havent even seen what dennis dixon is really made of..
Yeah, I say work with what ya got FIRST. Dennis Dixon was a very good qb in college, granted he had that injury, but we really haven't had a good look at him yet to form any kind of opinion or evaluation. O-line is where we have the most pressing need.
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Old 02-09-2009, 09:58 AM   #5
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Default Re: No more celebrating as Steelers start preparing for 2009

First pick or two in the draft HAS to be an offensive line man for sure. I could see Colon just not making the team, and Kemo going as well.
A 4th or 5th round CB could be a good deal too as i see Mcfadden being too much and heading off the team and having Gay step up.
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Old 02-09-2009, 10:06 AM   #6
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First pick or two in the draft HAS to be an offensive line man for sure. I could see Colon just not making the team, and Kemo going as well.
A 4th or 5th round CB could be a good deal too as i see Mcfadden being too much and heading off the team and having Gay step up.
I watched the draft last year, and I thought for sure that would be the direction they would go in....offensive lineman. I was rather shocked when I heard Mendenhall's name being called. While I liked him in college( in the Rose Bowl game against USC, he was pretty much all the offense Illinois could muster), I am very anxious to see what he will do next year....what he will bring to the pro level.

I agree with you..o-line is the area of biggest concern and most pressing need.
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Old 02-09-2009, 11:04 AM   #7
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Default Re: No more celebrating as Steelers start preparing for 2009

I say depending on what lands on us at 32. We should get a stellar CB/KR man who can be a threat to score anytime he touches the ball.

1. CB/KR
2. OL
3. DL
4. OL
5. FB
6.Special Teamers
7Special Teamers
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Old 02-09-2009, 12:32 PM   #8
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Default Re: No more celebrating as Steelers start preparing for 2009

dixon played is an option QB. also see kordell stewart, vince young, major harris, michael bishop, pat white and so on.

the steelers have done the kordell experiment. why re-visit it?
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Old 02-09-2009, 12:45 PM   #9
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Default Re: No more celebrating as Steelers start preparing for 2009

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dixon played is an option QB. also see kordell stewart, vince young, major harris, michael bishop, pat white and so on.

the steelers have done the kordell experiment. why re-visit it?
More like a spread offense, but what does that matter?

I know, I know, it's pretty much assumed that the label of "athletic quarterback" means a guy who does nothing but scramble and run out of the option, and the only pass he can throw is the fourth-down moonball fade to the corner against double coverage that always falls incomplete and once again ends the team's national title hopes as the opponent's fans storm the field.

The difference between Dixon and any of those garbage QBs is that he was a passer first and just happened to be an "athletic" QB as well. He can actually throw the ball from what I've seen of him.
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Old 02-09-2009, 03:01 PM   #10
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Default Re: No more celebrating as Steelers start preparing for 2009

hehe j/k about the quarterback thing but maybe backup QB would be an option in the draft.

Will Batch play next year or will Leftwich stay?
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