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Old 02-28-2009, 12:52 PM   #1
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Default Steelers emphasis: Re-sign Harrison

http://www.eastvalleytribune.com/story/50740

Steelers emphasis: Re-sign Harrison
Agent, team look to close gap in negotiations
Intelligencer Journal
Published: Feb 28, 2009

By MATT PAWLIKOWSKI, Correspondent

When it comes to free agency, mum is the word for the Steelers.

But they have made it known that a priority of the team heading into the free-agency period is to get a long-term deal done with linebacker James Harrison, the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

In 2008, Harrison made a reported base salary of $1.2 million the third year of a four-year deal signed in April 2006 when he was a backup, and it is a steal by NFL standards.

The total worth of the contract was $5.5 million before incentives, including a $1.375 million signing bonus. Harrison is set to earn $1.4 million in the 2009 season, his final year under contract.

To put that in perspective, the average salary of the top five paid linebackers in the league in 2008 was $8.3 million.

While Harrison's agent, Bill Parise, said the two sides are making headway in negotiations, he also said the gap is still considerable. But he added the two sides may have caught a break, with the rise in the salary cap.

"We may have gotten a break as I've heard the cap moved from $123 million to $127 million," Parise said. "If that did, then that may really help this process because all of a sudden we have $4 million more with the cap. I think if it is true it will put us in a position to be able to reach our goals and the Steelers to reach their goals."

The Steelers are believed to be around $108,243,000 spent against the cap, meaning the increase would leave them nearly $18,757,000 in cap room.

One of the primary roadblocks in the Harrison negotiations is that 2010 is projected to be an uncapped year and a 30 percent rule comes into effect. That would mean salaries could increase by only 30 percent per season.

If a player made $1 million in base pay this year, he could not earn more than $1.3 million next year, or $1.6 million in 2010, or $1.9 million in 2011.

In the past, teams could get creative by slashing base salaries, and then prorate them over future years of the contract, still falling under under cap figures. That wouldn't be the case if the current collective bargaining act stands.

"It's the first time any of us are working without a collective bargaining agreement," Parise said. "It makes it difficult to make sure it is done properly and right."

Parise, who has a good working relationship with the Steelers, says he believes the two sides will get something done, and that Harrison would like to finish his career as a Steeler.

"Who wouldn't? James has won two rings there, and we believe there is a chance to get who knows, maybe one or two more," Parise said. "I also think you have to look at the Steelers as a whole. They are one of the classiest organizations in the NFL, and then you also have to look at their style of play. James is a very physical football player and the Steelers are a very physical team."

Meanwhile, Pittsburgh is currently looking to complete a multiyear deal with tackle Max Starks, who accepted a $8,451,000 tender not long after being tabbed with the franchise tag. They have until July 9 to do so, and getting it done sooner will free up more money under the cap, but the question remains how many of the other free agents can they sign.

The Steelers' unrestricted free agents include Marvel Smith, Chris Kemoeatu, Trai Essex, Bryant McFadden, Charlie Batch, Byron Leftwich, Andre Fraizer, Keyaron Fox, Orpheus Roye, Fernando Bryant, Nate Washington and Mitch Berger.

On Friday, Kemoeatu re-signed with the Steelers, getting a five-year, $20 million deal.

Prior to Starks and then Harrison, the Steelers had said their top priority heading into free agency was cornerback McFadden.

With Oakland's Nnamdu Asomugha getting a two-year deal for $28.5 million and a third-year option at $16.8 million, it's no wonder McFadden is talking greenbacks.

Asomugha, who was a first-round draft pick and a Pro Bowler, is no McFadden, but Colts DB Kelvin Heyden may have put the writing on the wall that McFadden is done as a Steeler.

Heyden signed a five-year deal worth $43 million. It includes $22.5 million in guaranteed money and will pay Heyden approximately $29 million over the first three years.

Washington, Smith, Berger, Roye and Bryant have also more than likely seen their last days with the black and gold.

Then there is wideout Washington who thrived in the No. 3 slot, averaging over 16 yards per catch. Washington made $1.417 million as a restricted free agent last year.
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Old 02-28-2009, 02:06 PM   #2
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Default Re: Steelers emphasis: Re-sign Harrison

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Parise, who has a good working relationship with the Steelers, says he believes the two sides will get something done, and that Harrison would like to finish his career as a Steeler.
Me likes the sound of that.
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"We're not going to turn our backs on him," Ward said. "We're going to treat him like our brother. We're going to accept him back and be very supportive of him and help him get through this. In this locker room, he's still our quarterback."
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Old 02-28-2009, 02:15 PM   #3
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Default Re: Steelers emphasis: Re-sign Harrison

BYAH!!!!!!!!!!!
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Old 03-01-2009, 06:48 AM   #4
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Default Re: Steelers emphasis: Re-sign Harrison

I didnt know about Delvin Heydan. With that news B-Mac is most certainly gone. I guess that frees up room to sign Harrison.
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Old 03-01-2009, 07:20 AM   #5
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Default Re: Steelers emphasis: Re-sign Harrison

I'm going to be a bit nervous until we gets news of the signing........didn't it take awhile to work out Troy's contract?
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"We're not going to turn our backs on him," Ward said. "We're going to treat him like our brother. We're going to accept him back and be very supportive of him and help him get through this. In this locker room, he's still our quarterback."
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Old 03-01-2009, 07:31 AM   #6
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Default Re: Steelers emphasis: Re-sign Harrison

I have full confidence that the Steelers and Harrison will get a contract done.
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Old 03-01-2009, 07:55 AM   #7
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Default Re: Steelers emphasis: Re-sign Harrison

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Originally Posted by stillers4me View Post
I'm going to be a bit nervous until we gets news of the signing........didn't it take awhile to work out Troy's contract?
Yes, and it took awhile to gets Ward's last contract as well.
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