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Old 02-02-2010, 10:38 PM   #1
mesaSteeler
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Default Harris: Steelers' free agents as good as gone

Harris: Steelers' free agents as good as gone
http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pitt...s_665142.html#
By John Harris
PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Leave it to always-blunt veteran nose tackle Casey Hampton to say what the Steelers won't about the team's offseason plans to re-sign some of their unrestricted free agents.

During an interview with the Tribune-Review last week, Hampton said he wants to finish his career with the team that drafted him in 2001. He also said the Steelers passed up the opportunity to re-sign him last offseason, so why should he turn cartwheels (picture that visual, if you will) for the chance to stay with the team that no longer considers him a priority?

"You didn't feel that strong about signing me before the season, so why is it such a big issue for you to try to keep me now?" Hampton responded.

Talk about telling it like it is.

Hampton's absolutely right. He doesn't figure in the Steelers' defensive plans like he did a couple of years ago.

He'll be 33 at the beginning of next season, and the team no longer considers him an every-down player. In fact, he no longer plays on passing downs.

Repeat after me: the Steelers will never pay full-time wages for a part-time player.

The Steelers would love to re-sign Hampton to a multiyear contract on the cheap, but don't count on that happening -- Hampton wants to test the market.

The Steelers could slap a franchise tag on Hampton and lock him up for another season, but that would be a mistake because an unhappy Hampton makes for an unproductive player.

In truth, the Steelers feel the same way about free safety Ryan Clark and running back Willie Parker.

If they really wanted to keep them, they wouldn't have allowed them to become free agents.

That's not how the Steelers operate. They realize it's cheaper to sign their own players before allowing them to test the market. That way, the Steelers are bidding against themselves.

Go down the list. The Steelers re-signed quarterback Ben Roethlisberger with two years remaining on his contract, and they re-signed outside linebacker James Harrison, tight end Heath Miller and defensive ends Aaron Smith and Brett Keisel with one year remaining on their respective deals.

This year, the Steelers' offseason strategy will probably involve attempting to re-sign key players who are entering the final year of their contracts. Those players include outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley, wide receiver Santonio Holmes and cornerback Ike Taylor.

Woodley, who played in his first Pro Bowl on Sunday night, led the Steelers with 13 1/2 sacks this season. Among active players, he's is tied with Dwight Freeney and Mike Vrabel for most postseason sacks with eight.

Holmes led the Steelers with 1,248 receiving yards and he was second on the team with 79 receptions.

Taylor is the team's most experienced starting cornerback. He has never missed a game in seven seasons because of injury.

The longer the Steelers wait to re-sign these players, the more their price tag will go up and the harder it will be for the team to keep them.

That's why it would seem to make more sense for the Steelers to prioritize re-signing players entering the final year of their contracts, instead of bringing back Hampton and Clark when they didn't lock them up a year earlier.

It isn't like the Steelers to have second thoughts about re-signing their unrestricted free agents. I'm going to assume that a decision has already been made about Hampton and Clark not coming back to the team.

Looking at the big picture, director of football operations Kevin Colbert is fond of saying there are two ways for the Steelers to build their roster.

One way is re-signing their key veterans. The other way is through the NFL Draft.

The 2010 draft is deep in talent at defensive tackle and safety -- deeper than it has been in years -- and it just so happens those are the positions where Hampton and Clark play.

In other words, the Steelers don't have to spend high draft picks on potential replacements for Hampton and Clark -- and they can save money in the process.

They can take a player in the second or third round who might normally be available in the first round.

Meanwhile, they can permit loyal veterans such as Hampton and Clark to sign a long-term deal with another team in a show of good faith while kicking off the team's inevitable rebuilding plan.

John Harris can be reached at jharris@tribweb.com or 412-481-5432.
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Old 02-02-2010, 11:20 PM   #2
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Default Re: Harris: Steelers' free agents as good as gone

The moreI think about it the team is really helping itself by sending these old horses to other teams. This way they can take their new bigger, faster , stronger horses and kick the shit out of their old studs. Maybee only about 25% of the time does it come back to bite them in the butt. And they save the cash to spend on the players that have yet to become to old to re-sign. Just one more reason this is the best franchise in all of sports.
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Old 02-03-2010, 09:00 AM   #3
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Default Re: Harris: Steelers' free agents as good as gone

Sorry to say this, but this article is so stupid! Of course the Steelers are going to re-sign their YOUNG STARS HOW ARE GOING INTO THEIR PRIME YEARS!!!! Hello!!!! Give this man the stupidity of the year award for so overstating the obvious about what a GREAT franchise should do. Let me see? If I'm the Steelers front office & I have a choice between locking up my young franchise type players (Big Ben, Heath, J. Harrison, etc...) or re-signing my older players whom are getting up there in age & won't last as long as my younger guys, what do you think I'm going to do? What other franchise in the NFL is not going to do the same thing. This article is rediculous to say the least. Sorry if I'm offending some people but this is rediculous to read something that should be so obvious what the Steelers would & should do as a GOOD FRANCHISE!!!!!!
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Old 02-03-2010, 11:37 AM   #4
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Default Re: Harris: Steelers' free agents as good as gone

Casey has no one to blame but himself. If he hadn't come into camp in such bad shape the last two years, the Steelers probably would've been more inclined to offer him the new contract that he wanted.
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Old 02-03-2010, 12:16 PM   #5
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Default Re: Harris: Steelers' free agents as good as gone

I thought this was a pretty good article by John Harris. I would not be surprised at all if Ryan Clark and Willie Parker are not resigned. I do believe though that Casey Hampton does need to be brought back for at least 1 more season.

The Steelers will make very good attempts this off season to lock up Woodley, Holmes and Taylor. I am glad this draft is deep at the safety and defensive line positions because we need to address it.
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Old 02-03-2010, 01:17 PM   #6
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Default Re: Harris: Steelers' free agents as good as gone

I think this article is right on! Yes, I'd like to bring Clark back....Hampton is too much about "me" instead of "team" with his comments here....Not sure if he's always like that.....But I'd def rather make sure we get Santonio and Woodley locked up.....Ike too as long as he's not asking to be the highest paid CB in the league...He's our best....but he's not a true shut down, and shouldn't be paid like one.
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Old 02-03-2010, 01:31 PM   #7
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Default Re: Harris: Steelers' free agents as good as gone

I think we need to keep Clark and probably Hampton for one more year if we want to be serious about winning another Super Bowl with this group of players. Past that, who knows, maybe we'll have their replacements ready. But Hoke or Mundy or Carter or a rookie isn't the answer for either position next season.

Thankfully, this might be the one year where neither of them get salary-capped off to another team by default.

As for the franchise tag ... well, it was designed in case there's a player that a team can't afford to lose and can't afford a bidding war for. Guess what -- that's exactly what Hampton is, so that's exactly what we ought to do.
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Old 02-03-2010, 02:34 PM   #8
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Default Re: Harris: Steelers' free agents as good as gone

Quote:
The 2010 draft is deep in talent at defensive tackle and safety -- deeper than it has been in years -- and it just so happens those are the positions where Hampton and Clark play.
this statement is EXTREMELY misleading. while there may be 8 or so in the draft that fit the physical profile of a NT, there's maybe 4 who might contribute and actually turn out to be a servicable to good player. then if you factor in supply vs demand , well think back to 2008 when the class was "deep" in tackles. we didn't come close to landing one. there should be no less than 5 or 6 teams running the 3-4 alone looking at those for prospects.
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Old 02-03-2010, 03:08 PM   #9
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Default Re: Harris: Steelers' free agents as good as gone

I agree we need both Clark and Hampton for one more year but we need to address this in the draft. Replacement wise.
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Old 02-05-2010, 11:53 AM   #10
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Default Re: Harris: Steelers' free agents as good as gone

If we could lock up Big Snack and Clark for maybe a couple more years and maybe draft new guys, they could learn from those two and be more productive when it's their turn... just like what the Bus did with Willie, who knows, it could work out or it could flop.
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