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Old 02-15-2007, 08:58 AM   #1
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Default Steelers' offseason plan taking shape

Steelers' offseason plan taking shape

By Scott Brown
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Thursday, February 15, 2007


The NFL free agent signing period doesn't officially begin until March 2, but the Steelers should have a good idea after today which players they will target.

Director of football operations Kevin Colbert said Wednesday that coach Mike Tomlin and his assistants have spent the past two weeks evaluating about 30 free agents-to-be who were recommended by the Steelers' player personnel staff.

That number, Colbert said, should be reduced today, as the Steelers narrow their focus to players who can help them as well as fit into the team's salary structure.

"Being that we're 8-8 (last season), we need to be better than we were last year," Colbert said. "Our percentage of players under contract is high, so how do you do that? Well, you've got to add, to me, from the bottom up, so that's how you've got to do it with the draft ... and/or free agency."

Several factors, including history, point to the Steelers focusing more on the draft.

The Steelers don't have much room under the salary cap, which is projected to be $109 million this year, though they do have some flexibility.

The team could try to rework contracts of high-paid veterans or simply cut them loose.

The Steelers have less than a month to decide what they will do with a pair of veterans who are due $1 million roster bonuses by March 6: outside linebacker Joey Porter and defensive end Aaron Smith.

When asked about the status of Porter, who is in the final year of his contract, Colbert said, "We haven't made any decision on anyone not being here or being here."

The Steelers appear to be in good shape as far as their own players and free agency are concerned.

No starter from last year's team is an unrestricted free agent, and only one, offensive tackle Max Starks, is a restricted free agent.

The Steelers have the right to match any offer that Starks receives and will get compensation if he signs with another team.

Along with prospective free agents, Colbert said, the Steelers have been busy evaluating college players who will be available in the NFL draft at the end of April.

He said wide receiver is the strongest position in the draft, followed by safety. The Steelers, who have the 15th overall pick, won't rule out taking a wide receiver early, even though they used a first-round pick on Santonio Holmes last year.

"It's hard to see us locking out any position high, except for quarterback," Colbert said.

The Steelers play a 3-4 defense, but that could evolve into a 4-3 under Tomlin, and Colbert said there is an advantage to the uncertainty over what shape the defense will take in the coming seasons.

It creates a deeper pool the Steelers will consider drafting from, because they don't have to evaluate players based on how they fit into a certain scheme.

"When you're drafting, a lot of times you're looking not for the (2007) season," Colbert said, "but who can fit in '07, '08, and '09, so it opens that up more, and it gives us more players to pick from."

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pitt.../s_493255.html
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Old 02-15-2007, 12:49 PM   #2
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Default Re: Steelers' offseason plan taking shape

It would be nice for them to bring somebody in that can contribute immediately and stay away from veterans other teams are dumping. In most cases there is a really good reason another team doesn't want them so why would we need them?
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Old 02-15-2007, 08:47 PM   #3
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Default Re: Steelers' offseason plan taking shape

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It would be nice for them to bring somebody in that can contribute immediately and stay away from veterans other teams are dumping. In most cases there is a really good reason another team doesn't want them so why would we need them?
They could release them because of salary issues just like we might do with joey portor and aaron smith. There could be many other reasons for them to be released.
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Old 02-15-2007, 09:06 PM   #4
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Default Re: Steelers' offseason plan taking shape

Pretty good read. I don't think we will be very active in FA. But I definately get Aaron Smith extended.
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Old 02-16-2007, 07:36 AM   #5
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Default Re: Steelers' offseason plan taking shape

Yeah they might get released do to salary cap reasons but if they were still at the top of their game they'd get re-signed by the team they're with. Teams don't normally release a player who can still contribute. Teams only do this when they someone making less that can contribute as much but cost less. So i reiterate, if another team doesn't think they are at the top of their game why should we?
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Old 02-16-2007, 08:00 AM   #6
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Default Re: Steelers' offseason plan taking shape

It would be nice to see the steelers get a little more involved in FA, atleast it would keep me entertained during the offseason. How nice would it be to have someone like Lance Briggs to look forward to next year.
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Old 02-16-2007, 02:19 PM   #7
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Default Re: Steelers' offseason plan taking shape

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Originally Posted by paw-n-maul-u View Post
It would be nice to see the steelers get a little more involved in FA, atleast it would keep me entertained during the offseason. How nice would it be to have someone like Lance Briggs to look forward to next year.
Yeah, but alot of the time you can't trust free agency that much. I mean it's a good way to get players, but you just never know.

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Old 02-16-2007, 05:05 PM   #8
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Default Re: Steelers' offseason plan taking shape

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Originally Posted by wise1s View Post
Yeah they might get released do to salary cap reasons but if they were still at the top of their game they'd get re-signed by the team they're with. Teams don't normally release a player who can still contribute. Teams only do this when they someone making less that can contribute as much but cost less. So i reiterate, if another team doesn't think they are at the top of their game why should we?
Actually that isn't true. Teams that have up and comers will release older players that can still contribute, because they have a longer future with the younger player. It makes sense. While Plax was somewhat of an enigma to us, he could still contribute. he has done pretty well for the Giants, as good or better then he did for us.

Now, why should we be the one to pick up F.A from other teams? Because we have holes in our team that need to be filled NOW. Not in the future. We have a BIG HOLE in the CB corp. Such a big hole that we rank in the bottom third. We need to go to FA for a good CB.

Problem is, if we draft there, we waste a number 1 pick on a CB (because we need enough help to actually draft at this position). when that happens, we then leave a hole in our LB. So we then have to pick up a FA at linebacker because one, maybe two injuries, and we're in a lot of trouble there. F.A. is to fill holes NOW. The draft is to fill future holes. Very few draftees can fill holes now.
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Old 02-16-2007, 05:36 PM   #9
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Default Re: Steelers' offseason plan taking shape

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Teams that have up and comers will release older players that can still contribute, because they have a longer future with the younger player. It makes sense. While Plax was somewhat of an enigma to us, he could still contribute. he has done pretty well for the Giants, as good or better then he did for us.
Great point, Preacher. In addition, Plax also got called out by Strahan for dogging it on plays, which underscores another possible reason a talented player may get released - attitude. T.O. is another great example - the guy can play, but you have to weigh his ability against his mouth and wonder if it's worth it.
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