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Old 01-10-2012, 07:23 AM   #1
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Default Monday news and notes

NFL from the sidelines
After hobnobbing around the NFL in the press boxes and sidelines, sports reporter Dale Lolley will let you know the insider scoop. Dale can also be heard as a sometime host on ESPN 970-AM. Follow him on Twitter at dlolleyor.
Monday, January 09, 2012
Monday news and notes

Mike Tomlin said today that given another opportunity, he'd defend Tim Tebow the same way.

I actually don't blame him. Tebow hadn't shown the ability to throw the ball like he did on Sunday in previous weeks.

And Ike Taylor had more than done his job throughout this season on the opposing team's No. 1 receiver.

There was no reason to believe Tebow would suddenly become John Elway and Taylor would no longer be able to tackle in the open field.

A report surfaced today that Hines Ward told his teammates he was probably retiring.

That may have been the way Ward was leaning prior to Sunday's game if the Steelers made a long run in the playoffs.

But something tells me he'll want to come back in 2012 if the Steelers want him. He won't want to go out with a loss and without a reception.

For the Steelers, bringing Ward at a discounted price back could make sense.

Ward will count $4.6 million against the 2012 cap with a base salary of $4 million. If he cuts that in half, having a veteran leader behind the disappearing Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown and somewhat brittle Emmanuel Sanders could be a plus. That becomes even more critical if the Steelers are unable to bring Jerricho Cotchery back.

The same thing could be said of James Farrior.

Farrior's base salary is just $2.8 million next season with a cap value of $3.8. If he's willing to take a cut, his veteran presence could be big.

So where do the Steelers find the $15 to $20 million they are going to need to get under the cap next year?

Casey Hampton is scheduled to make $4.9 million in 2012 and has a cap value of just over $8 million. That might be a place to start, particularly if the team can get a young nose tackle in the draft.

Guard Chris Kemoeatu and his $3.5 million salary would be another place to look. Then you've got Bryant McFadden ($2.5 million) and Johnathan Scott ($2.2 million), Will Allen ($1.2 million) and Arnaz Battle ($1 million) that could also free up some cash.

The Steelers have been blessed in recent years to have some veteran backups. But those veteran backups also cost more money. The team is likely going to have to go with more youngsters behind their starters in 2012.

If I had to bet, Aaron Smith and Chris Hoke will retire. Charlie Batch might as well, though the team could coax him to come back one more time if Byron Leftwich is not re-signed. William Gay probably played well enough this year to get himself a contract elsewhere (Detroit anyone?). Dennis Dixon, Mewelde Moore and Daniel Sepulveda won't be back.
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