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Old 04-04-2009, 12:17 AM   #1
mesaSteeler
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Default Harris: Steelers' veterans may soon be free to go

Harris: Steelers' veterans may soon be free to go
http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pitt...s_619216.html#

By John Harris
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Saturday, April 4, 2009

There's a move under way to rebuild the Super Bowl XLIII champion Steelers.

In another year, you may not be able to tell the players without a scorecard.

Twelve starters are entering the final year of their contracts, led by two-time Pro Bowl linebacker James Harrison, who is expected to sign a new deal before the 2009 opener.

Other players scheduled to become free agents after next season include tight end Heath Miller, receiver Hines Ward, nose tackle Casey Hampton, linebacker Larry Foote, running back Willie Parker, defensive end Brett Keisel, center Justin Hartwig, safety Ryan Clark, kicker Jeff Reed and tackles Willie Colon and Max Starks.

"When you have a championship team, you're going to have players and their agents looking for a higher value. They may not be amenable to doing a contract before seeing what the market will bear," said veteran player agent Ralph Cindrich.

Of those 12 starters, seven will be 30 and older next season.

That won't do.

The Steelers rarely award big contracts to their free agents older than 30 -- almost never, in fact -- so they will have to make an even bigger exception with Harrison, the NFL's reigning defensive player of the year who turns 31 next month.

Whether they also extend contracts to several other veteran free agents who will be 30 and older after next season remains to be seen.

Let the transition begin.

Being part of a championship team doesn't guarantee a roster spot in ensuing years. It doesn't guaranetee a new contract either.

The Steelers will sign their free agents as they see fit.

Their successful track record of building with draft picks makes it unlikely they will sign any of their potential free agents until after this month's draft.

"When a team's winning like the Steelers, their back's not against the wall to do anything desperate. Whatever they feel they're doing to win, they're going to keep doing," said agent Kenny Zuckerman, who represents former Steelers tackle Marvel Smith.

The Steelers failed to re-sign Smith, 30, who recently joined the 49ers.

"Teams that are built by the draft will definitely wait for the next draft before they make decisions on their veterans," Zuckerman said. "Players taken in this draft are going to replace a lot of those guys. The players they draft become starters."

The Steelers could have another reason for displaying patience regarding free agents. Players entering the final year of their contracts tend to perform better when a new deal is at stake.

The strategy worked for defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth, who signed a record contract with the Washington Redskins. Don't be surprised if it works for several of the Steelers as well.

"The key is whether they play hard going into the end like that. I don't think there's any question this team is a reflection of its leaders," said Cindrich, who represents Steelers defensive captain James Farrior. "These guys are going with the mentality of the team and that is to go (all-out)."

John Harris can be reached at jharris@tribweb.com or 412-481-5432.
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Old 04-04-2009, 12:38 AM   #2
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Default Re: Harris: Steelers' veterans may soon be free to go

Hampton, Foote, Parker, Hartwig, Colon and Starks will be gone if none are extended before the season starts unless they take money the steelers can work with.

Gotta keep Clark, Reed and Ward.

I think Keisel will fit into the budget like Townsend has and play another few years and groom a new comer.
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Old 04-04-2009, 01:12 AM   #3
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Default Re: Harris: Steelers' veterans may soon be free to go

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Hampton, Foote, Parker, Hartwig, Colon and Starks will be gone if none are extended before the season starts unless they take money the steelers can work with.

And Whiz will sign at least 4 of them to Arizonia
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Old 04-04-2009, 02:57 AM   #4
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Default Re: Harris: Steelers' veterans may soon be free to go

Foote-gone

Hartwig-gone

Colon-gone

Starks-it seems they want to extend him.

Reed-I hope he stays and can't imagine him leaving. He will command decent money, but kickers are still kickers and should def. have enough/make room.

Hampton- now this is where it get's alittle naughty.

Hampton could be a ted washington even still 6-8 years from now, IF he keeps his weight in check. I don't think the question is how long can hampton play. But is his play going to be consistent enough and at a high enough level to extend him with more or less the same kind of money he is making now.

I think the steelers are something like 13-1 when hampton isn't playing. Hoke is cheaper, a tad bit older but that could easily be cancelled out by actual game time miles. Hampton is the rock of our D. i see hime restructuring for an extended few years or so.
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Old 04-04-2009, 02:58 AM   #5
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Default Re: Harris: Steelers' veterans may soon be free to go

I think they should re-sign Miller, Ward, Keisel, Reed, & Parker..... Maybe Clark & Hartwig..

Hampton, Foote, Starks, Colon.... thank you but goodbye!
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Old 04-04-2009, 05:58 AM   #6
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Default Re: Harris: Steelers' veterans may soon be free to go

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I think they should re-sign Miller, Ward, Keisel, Reed, & Parker..... Maybe Clark & Hartwig..

Hampton, Foote, Starks, Colon.... thank you but goodbye!
I think Hartwig and Parker will be gone as well. I think we will get several compensary picks when several of these leave for free agency.
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Old 04-04-2009, 06:53 AM   #7
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Default Re: Harris: Steelers' veterans may soon be free to go

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Originally Posted by OX1947 View Post
Hampton, Foote, Parker, Hartwig, Colon and Starks will be gone if none are extended before the season starts unless they take money the steelers can work with.

Gotta keep Clark, Reed and Ward.

I think Keisel will fit into the budget like Townsend has and play another few years and groom a new comer.
I totally agree here, but I have to add Heaaaaaath as a must-have and they may want to hang on to FWP for another year or two, depending on how Mendenhall develops in the backfield.
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Old 04-04-2009, 09:09 AM   #8
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Default Re: Harris: Steelers' veterans may soon be free to go

We can't lose Heeeaath!
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Old 04-04-2009, 09:20 AM   #9
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Default Re: Harris: Steelers' veterans may soon be free to go

I bought a Miller jersey last year.... they will keep Heath! He's one of the best TE's in the league.
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Old 04-04-2009, 10:00 AM   #10
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Default Re: Harris: Steelers' veterans may soon be free to go

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Other players scheduled to become free agents after next season include tight end Heath Miller, receiver Hines Ward, nose tackle Casey Hampton, linebacker Larry Foote, running back Willie Parker, defensive end Brett Keisel, center Justin Hartwig, safety Ryan Clark, kicker Jeff Reed and tackles Willie Colon and Max Starks
miller, clark and harrison are the most important to sign. they can franchise harrison.

re-signing hartwig, starks and/or colon depends on the replacements and this year's draft.

hampton can be replaced by another overweight individual.

foote is an average LB. he can easily be replaced.

parker can be let go. the team will not suffer.

kiesel is average. no big loss.

ward would need to take a cut in salary. i can't see giving him a raise.

jeff reed, IMO, is an important player too, but they can't break the bank on him.
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