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Old 01-13-2010, 06:51 AM   #1
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Default Free agent frenzy: Who stays? Who goes?

Free agent frenzy: Who stays? Who goes?
By: Mike Bires
Beaver County Times

Tuesday January 12, 2010 12:03 AM

Because they finished 9-7 and failed to make the playoffs, the Pittsburgh Steelers facean off-season of change. Exactly how much the roster changes will depend considerably on what they do with their potential free agents.

No less than 11 Steelers — including a few high-profile stars — can be unrestricted free agents when the NFL’s free agency period begins March 5. Seven others are unrestricted free agents.

Unrestricted free agents are free to sign with any team with no compensation to the Steelers.

Restricted free agents are free to negotiate with any team. However, the Steelers have the right to match any offer. If the offer isn’t matched, the Steelers could receive compensation in the form of draft picks depending on the amount of the offer.

Coach Mike Tomlin and personnel director Kevin Colbert have already begun the process of deciding who the Steelers will try to sign and who they won’t.

Times NFL writer Mike Bires breaks down the list of free agents and who may or may not be back.


CHARLIE BATCH, QB A Pittsburgh native, who does much for the community, is a capable reserve who can handle the offense in an emergency. But with Dennis Dixon entrenched as the back-up, the Steelers can’t afford to play Batch, who, as a 13-year vet, is entitled to a minimum salary of $860,000. Return: Unlikely.

ROCKY BOIMAN, LB The Steelers need bodies to play special teams. But after he was acquired in mid-season, Boiman didn’t do anything to suggest he’s anything but an average special teams player. Return: Highly unlikely.

TYRONE CARTER, S OK in a pinch for maybe an emergency start or two and not bad on special teams, he’ll be 34 next year and it’s time to give more playing time to younger players such as Ryan Mundy. Return: Unlikely.

RYAN CLARK, FS A hard-hitter who plays well in tandem with strong safety Troy Polamalu but with Polamalu missing so much of the season with injuries, Clark’s play declined significantly. Return: Fifty-fifty.

NICK EASON, DE The vet will be 30, which makes him the second-youngest player in the D-line rotation this season. While he did start five games, he wasn’t even in uniform for eight games. Return: Unlikely.

CASEY HAMPTON, NT As his fifth and latest Pro Bowl invite suggests, “Big Snack” is still one of the most dominant lineman in the league. There is a chance Hampton will hold out if the Steelers slap a franchise tag on him. Do they want that kind of potential distraction as they enter camp following the disappointing ’09 season? Return: Fifty-fifty.

TRAVIS KIRSCHKE, DE For a man his age — he’ll be 36 at the start of next season — Kirschke played fairly well in a back-up role. But he’d only take away playing time from Ziggy Hood and Sunny Harris, first- and seventh-round picks in the ’09 draft. Return: Unlikely.

WILLIE PARKER, RB Many teams have two quality backs on their roster, and as “Fast Willie” showed in the last two games, he’s still capable. But Parker wants to start, and that won’t happen here. He also wants starter’s money, and that won’t happen here either. Return: Questionable at best
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JEFF REED, PK An excellent field goal kicker, especially at Heinz Field, one of the toughest places in the league for a kicker. But the Steelers don’t want to pay Reed the money he could fetch elsewhere. Plus, his off-the-field antics are growing old. Return: Fifty-fifty.

DESHEA TOWNSEND, CB He still covers receivers better than William Gay. But it’s tough for 35-year-old cornerbacks to survive in the NFL. Plus, the Steelers will probably be looking to take a corner early in this year’s draft, and they did draft two corners last year (Keenan Lewis and Joe Burnett). Return: Questionable.

JOEY GALLOWAY, WR If Limas Sweed doesn’t get his act in order, the Steelers need someone to be their No. 4 wide receiver. But at 38, Galloway is just too old. Return: Highly improbable.


PATRICK BAILEY, LB Was a neat story in 2008 when he was named the team’s Rookie of the Year as an undrafted free agent out of Duke, but for a guy who never plays defense, he’s just not that dynamic of a special teams player. Return: Questionable.

WILLIE COLON, OT Some say he may be better suited at guard. Regardless of where he plays in the future, Colon’s a hard-nosed brawler who’s the only offensive lineman to start every game the past three seasons. Twice he beat out Max Starks for the starting job at right tackle. Return: Highly probable.

CAREY DAVIS, FB The Steelers hardly use a fullback any more and rookie Frank “The Tank” Summers did beat out Davis in training camp. Return: Highly unlikely.

WILLIAM GAY, CB Became a starter because Bryant McFadden left via free agency (Arizona), but Gay had a miserable season and was replaced late in the season by Townsend. Return: Fifty-fifty.

DANIEL SEPULVEDA, P By no means outstanding, but never did he shank a punt. Bottom line: he’s reliable and should only get better in years to come. Return: Highly probable.

MATT SPAETH, TE Won the Mackey Award given to the best tight end in college, but doesn’t have much to show on his professional resume. This year, he only caught five passes for 25 yards. If re-signed, his roster spot may be challenged in training camp. Return: Fifty-fifty.

DARNELL STAPLETON, G A starter at right guard on the ’08 Super Bowl team due to Kendall Simmons’ injury, Stapleton missed the season with a knee injury. Stapleton has recovered nicely, but the Steelers drafted Kraig Urbik in the third round last year. And Ramon Foster, an undrafted free agent, caught the coaching staff’s attention for the way he played in four starts at left guard. Return: Questionable at best.
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Old 01-13-2010, 08:04 AM   #2
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Default Re: Free agent frenzy: Who stays? Who goes?

i agree with every one of them.
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Old 01-13-2010, 08:59 AM   #3
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Default Re: Free agent frenzy: Who stays? Who goes?

Joey Galloway? Really?

I really think we're not getting the whole story with Sweed. He entered the NFL with a wrist injury. Prior to that injury he had no problems catching the ball. Post wrist injury he can't hold onto the ball to save his life..... I just think there is more to that injury that is not being said....

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Old 01-13-2010, 10:49 AM   #4
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Default Re: Free agent frenzy: Who stays? Who goes?

Wow that is pretty much dead on. I still say Batch is going to retire and become the new QB coach.

"If I could live my life over I would be a professional football player, and you damn well better believe I would be a Pittsburgh Steeler." - Jack Lambert
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Old 01-13-2010, 12:42 PM   #5
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Default Re: Free agent frenzy: Who stays? Who goes?

That's pretty pessimistic if you ask me. Not one guy other than Colon better than "fifty-fifty" for coming back.

I'm pretty sure we keep Clark (who the hell else do we have in mind?), and I'm pretty sure we keep Gay to give him more time. If we don't, I'm sure the "elite fans" will have an absolute shitfit because OMG, how can you label a guy a bust that quickly -- and in this case at least, they'd have a point.

I don't know how the hell Spaeth is a 50-50 shot. More like 1-99. The guy has done exactly dick for us in three years and we have three other TEs who are better. Stapleton also sucks and it's pretty apparent that he actually made the line WORSE when he was in there, so I'd be amazed if we brought him back.

Townsend might be the surprise guy who sticks around. People have been making a big deal about his age for like 3 or 4 years now, and the fact is, he still does OK. I don't see us getting rid of him unless it's absolutely certain that Gay/Burnett/Lewis is not going to be shaky as a starter. I also don't really buy all this crap about us drafting a CB with a high pick; that's a popular reaction but a panic reaction, like all the people who were saying "OMG we need to draft OL, OL, OL in the first three rounds" last year.

Oh, and I bet one or the other of Kirschke or Eason comes back. They did OK, and regardless of what this guy would like, we do need backups.
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Old 01-13-2010, 01:03 PM   #6
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Old 01-13-2010, 04:32 PM   #7
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Default Re: Free agent frenzy: Who stays? Who goes?

As far as the UFA's listed, my bet is they keep Clark, Reed (they can also franchise Reed) with a possibility of them retaining Parker. I think Parker learned something from Bettis and will stay., It will be intersting to see what they do with Hampton, I am hopeful they sign him for 2 years.
I am sure they will make a great effort to resign Colon and Sep. I am sure they will keep Gay, but if someone wants him bad enough, at least we get a draft choice for him.
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Old 01-13-2010, 05:37 PM   #8
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Default Re: Free agent frenzy: Who stays? Who goes?

Keep Matt Spaeth, Clark, Sepulvada for sure. As far a our situation goes who the hell are we gonna replace him with??? We havent drafted a safety high in draft in years. Tony Smith was a dud.
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Old 01-13-2010, 06:26 PM   #9

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Default Re: Free agent frenzy: Who stays? Who goes?

Probably all good calls....free money for smart FA's. Not big ticket money hogs...smart pieces that fit. Need a full time staff lookin over the league. Theres probably a few good fits and this is a perfect year to move some underachievers.
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Old 01-13-2010, 08:05 PM   #10
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Default Re: Free agent frenzy: Who stays? Who goes?

Is sonny Harris on our team?
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