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Old 02-27-2009, 11:56 PM   #1
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Default Steelers Team Report

Steelers Team Report

Yahoo! Sports Feb 27, 3:39 am EST

Pittsburgh will play free agency the way it always does, by watching their players sign elsewhere and looking at some possible bargains along the way.

The Steelers expect to do little over the first weekend and then let the dust settle before trolling for mid-level players who might want to play for a Super Bowl contender.

They certainly must look at some linemen, on offense and defense. They won’t lose anyone on the defensive line to free agency but they also are all over 30. Pittsburgh also must continue to look for wide receivers. Nate Washington, their No. 3, likely will sign elsewhere as a free agent and Limas Sweed did not, as a rookie, look like a viable replacement for him. They’d also like to sign a receiver that has return ability, especially on kickoffs.

Kevin Colbert, the team’s director of football operations, said the Steelers will proceed in free agency the way they have in recent years. That means no rush to sign anyone, patience taking precedence. In fact, the entire Steelers coaching and scouting staffs were to spend the first weekend of free agency at a Pennsylvania ski resort.

To see the kind of pace the Steelers take in free agency, look at 2008. They let guard Alan Faneca go without so much as a phone call to his agent. They ultimately signed a new starting center, Justin Hartwig, after he was released by the Carolina Panthers. They signed a third-down back, unheralded Mewelde Moore, and they signed someone to help them in their special teams, backup linebacker Keyaron Fox.

The Steelers have been criticized in some quarters for their approach to free agency, rarely going after any high-priced talent. They’ve even been called “cheap.” However, they have won two of the last four Super Bowls and remain among the most competitive teams in the NFL since free agency began in 1993.

They must be doing something right.

“Obviously we were a successful team and you have to balance the success you had and what you’re going to need to be a success in the future,” Colbert said. “Your team’s not going to be the same as it was this year.

“All of our attempts aren’t going to be able to do that, no matter what. So you have to be realistic and understand that, plus you have to be honest about it and say OK, we won the Super Bowl but we need to improve in a certain area. You have to be able to be critical of your own team and of your own performances so that you can do the right things to maybe repeat that success.”

Notes, Quotes

• J.B. Smith, a venture capitalist from Detroit, met with Steelers president Art Rooney II to discuss becoming a possible investor in the team as part of its ownership restructuring.

NFL owners unanimously approved the restructuring, which includes three new primary investors in the Steelers. Two of the five Rooney brothers who owned, collectively, 80 percent of the team, are getting out altogether and two others are selling roughly half of their stock.

• After spending his first nine years with the Steelers, left tackle Marvel Smith likely will head elsewhere as a free agent. He received no offer from the Steelers this year.

“I don’t think he’s disappointed,” agent Ken Zuckerman said. “Listen, if you look at the track record, the Steelers keeping guys going into their third deal, they don’t keep many. They’ve paid Max Starks over two years probably more than Alan Faneca made over two years.”

• The Steelers hope to get more production from their 2009 draft class than they did from 2008. Few played much—top pick Rashard Mendenhall was knocked out for the season in the fourth game—and a free agent special-teamer won their rookie of the year award.

“We look at this draft class as a red-shirt year for the majority of the year,” Colbert said. “Part of that was health, part of that was needing further development.”

Quote To Note: “When the Steelers called me and said ‘We’re going to draft you with the next pick and you’ll play outside linebacker,’ I definitely wasn’t going to say no.”—LB LaMarr Woodley, who converted from Michigan DE after he was drafted in 2007.

Strategy And Personnel

The Steelers will lose most of their UFAs and they understand that, especially players such as WR Nate Washington and CB Bryant McFadden, and they likely will lose them quickly.

They will wait to sign anyone else’s free agents, or even look at anyone, until next week.


Pittsburgh needs offensive linemen and it will have a hard time getting anyone good since they don’t pay top dollar in free agency and there are few available anyway. They also are unlikely to get a blue-chip offensive lineman in the draft.

That’s why they made OT Max Starks their franchise player. They need defensive linemen for the future, depth in the secondary and at wide receiver, and a kick returner.


1. Offensive Linemen: The Steelers line was a mess before they faced losing free agents such as tackles Marvel Smith and Trai Essex and guard Chris Kemoeatu.

2. Defensive Linemen: They have good players, better than most, but they’re also getting old. Five of their top six defensive linemen are over 30.

3. Wide receivers: Their inability/disinterest in signing UFA Nate Washington means they have two experienced players at the position, Santonio Holmes and Hines Ward, who turns 33 in March.

Medical Watch: Hines Ward had cleanup surgery on his shoulder one week after the Super Bowl and should be OK for the summer.

• RB Rashard Mendenhall, who broke his shoulder in the fourth game, has been given a clean bill of health.

FRANCHISE PLAYER: OT Max Starks: Tendered at $8.451M; signed tender Feb. 23.



• QB Charlie Batch wants to return as Ben Roethlisberger’s backup. The team wants him back.

• P Mitch Berger was terrible and will not receive an offer because Daniel Sepulveda will return from injury.

• CB Fernando Bryant was signed for depth during the season, his 10th, and likely will not re-sign.

• OT Trai Essex served as the top backup at tackle and guard and could start if he stays and Max Starks and Marvel Smith leave.

• LB Keyaron Fox was a valuable special teams player they would like to re-sign.

• LB Andre Frazier played mostly on special teams and would be a low priority.

• G Chris Kemoeatu was so-so in his first season as a starter. They would like to keep him but won’t break the bank.

• QB Byron Leftwich did a nice job and is now ready to compete somewhere else to start.

• CB Bryant McFadden started on the left side. One of their top priorities to re-sign but his price might be too steep.

• DE Orpheus Roye completed his 13th season by mainly being inactive on game day and he likely will not be re-signed.

• OT Marvel Smith, their longtime starter on the left side, played only the first five games and then had his second back surgery in one calendar year. He should receive an offer before FA begins.

• WR Nate Washington was their main deep threat during the season and No. 3 receiver who would be hard to replace.


• TE Jon Dekker (not tendered as ERFA) was on injured reserve.

• LB Arnold Harrison (not tendered as RFA) was on injured reserve with a torn ACL.

• S Anthony Smith (not tendered as RFA) was inactive for the post-season.


• OT Willie Colon (tendered at $2.198M with first-round pick as compensation) has been their starter on the right side the past two seasons.

• CB Anthony Madison (tendered at $1.01M with no compensation) was one of their best special teams players.

• TE/FB Sean McHugh (tendered at $1.01M with seventh-round pick as compensation) became more valuable as a blocker in the backfield as the season proceeded.


• FB Carey Davis.

• G Jeremy Parquet was a backup who played little.


• OT Max Starks: FFA; $8.451M/1 yr.


• RB Stefan Logan: FA CFL; terms unknown.

• WR Brandon Williams: FA; terms unknown.


• LB Mike Humpal (released/failed physical).

• OG Kendall Simmons (released/failed physical).
Updated Feb 27, 3:39 am EST

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Old 02-28-2009, 12:06 AM   #2
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Default Re: Steelers Team Report

I highly doubt the Rooneys give a shit about what "people in some quarters" think about their approach to free agency. They have been, and always will be, about building their team from within with quality talent, and keeping their own rather than overpaying for someone else's dregs. All they've done using that approach is become the greatest franchise in modern NFL history.

Keep doing what you're doing, Dan and Art.
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