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Old 02-09-2010, 09:51 PM   #1
mesaSteeler
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Default Free agency look: The offensive line

http://www.observer-reporter.com/www...nes/index.html
Tuesday, February 09, 2010
Free agency look: The offensive line
As I do every offseason, I’ll take a look over the next few weeks at the Steelers’ potential free agents and possible veteran replacements or upgrades.

Keep in mind that the Steelers have never been major players on the free agent market. So no matter how much you want them to go out and sign say, Terrell Owens, it’s not going to happen.

This week, we’ll take a look at the offensive line.

Steelers potential losses
Willie Colon, RT
Darnell Stapleton, G/C (restricted)

The Steelers, like many teams, will be watching the collective bargaining agreement negotiations closely.

If no new agreement is reached, Colon, along with a number of other players, will be restricted free agents rather than unrestricted.

And no other position may be affected by that like this group of offensive linemen.

The Steelers would like to have Colon back to man their right tackle position. He’s gotten better the more he’s played and has turned into a good, but not great, player.

But can the Steelers do better by bringing in a free agent?

Certainly a free agent lineman would help this team a great deal. The Steelers have not done a great job in recent years drafting on the offensive line. They haven't taken one in the first two rounds of the draft since Kendall Simmons in 2002 and several of the later draft picks haven't worked out as well as they would like.

If the Steelers choose to go the free agent route, there are a number of intriguing possibilities, most of who will be restricted if there is no new collective bargaining agreement.

And that could be the rub.

For example, the Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints have three linemen, tackles Jammal Brown and Jermon Bushrod, and guard Jahri Evans, who are scheduled to reach free agency.

Brown, Bushrod and Evans will be restricted if there is no new collective bargaining agreement.

The problem for the Saints will be decided how to tender each of those players.

Brown, who will turn 29 next month, is the oldest of the trio, but might also be the most valuable. The former Oklahoma star is a natural left tackle with 58 career starts under his belt.

Bushrod, however, filled in admirably for Brown after his injury and, at 26, is three years younger.

Evans, meanwhile, was the team’s best run blocker from his right guard position.

And, as the Steelers know all too well, there is a heavy price that goes along with being a Super Bowl champion, making it unlikely that New Orleans will be able to keep all three.

Brown would certainly be an upgrade for the Steelers, but, even coming off an injury, his price tag will likely be out of the team’s range. That’s especially true considering how much money the Steelers are paying Max Starks. They could sign Brown and move Starks back to right tackle – a move that would really solidify the team’s line – but would likely then have $12 to $14-million per season wrapped up in their offensive tackles.

Of the three, Bushrod, a Towson product, might be the best fit, if the Saints tender him with a low offer. Bushrod is a former fourth-round draft pick.

A number of other decent options are also available, but are also looking at the possibility of restricted free agency.

That group would include San Diego left Marcus McNeil, Minnesota right tackle Ryan Cook and New England guard Logan Mankins.

Of the unrestricted group, there are two players who are young enough to still have some upside who have not lived up to their billing with their current teams, St. Louis’ Alex Barron and Green Bay’s Daryn Colledge.

Barron, a former first-round draft pick, has been plagued by penalties playing left tackle for the Rams, particularly false starts. But perhaps a change of scenery and joining a winning program could bring out the best in him.

Colledge, meanwhile, is headed for unrestricted free agency, but the word out of Green Bay is that the former second-round draft pick won’t be tendered an offer.

posted by Dale Lolley at 9:58 PM 1 Comments Links to this post
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Old 02-09-2010, 10:05 PM   #2
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Default Re: Free agency look: The offensive line

I don't think people understand the concept of being a restricted free agent.

It doesn't cost much to keep the player around and can be a heavy price to pry them away from another team. It'll take around a combined $7 million for the Saints to keep all of three lineman should they all get 1st/3rd tenders (Evans and Brown definitely will). That's chump change compared to what it'd cost if they were UFAs.

I read a stat that said of the 55 tendered RFAs last year, not one of them ended up going somewhere else.

Barron will probably be tendered for the fact St. Louis doesn't have much going for them on the line and I think I remember reading that he wasn't that bad at left tackle, not that we need one anyway.

If Colledge won't get tendered by the Packers and their woeful line, why should we go after them? Besides, he's a LG/C. Not a huge need for us. Only RG needs to be upgraded IMO.

All the "experts" talk about the horror of an uncapped year and how teams are going to go crazy but in reality, this is likely to be one of the quietest offseasons due to the fact there are so many RFAs.
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Old 02-10-2010, 10:17 AM   #3
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Default Re: Free agency look: The offensive line

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chidi29 View Post
I don't think people understand the concept of being a restricted free agent.

It doesn't cost much to keep the player around and can be a heavy price to pry them away from another team. It'll take around a combined $7 million for the Saints to keep all of three lineman should they all get 1st/3rd tenders (Evans and Brown definitely will). That's chump change compared to what it'd cost if they were UFAs.

I read a stat that said of the 55 tendered RFAs last year, not one of them ended up going somewhere else.

Barron will probably be tendered for the fact St. Louis doesn't have much going for them on the line and I think I remember reading that he wasn't that bad at left tackle, not that we need one anyway.

If Colledge won't get tendered by the Packers and their woeful line, why should we go after them? Besides, he's a LG/C. Not a huge need for us. Only RG needs to be upgraded IMO.

All the "experts" talk about the horror of an uncapped year and how teams are going to go crazy but in reality, this is likely to be one of the quietest offseasons due to the fact there are so many RFAs.
Good post.

Being we have always been a quality over quantity player in FA I wouldn't mind seeing us pick up a decent RG or OT through FA. Then concentrating on CB/S/DL in first 3 rounds of draft. No particular order. After that try to find gems. But those first 3 rounds we have to address specific needs vs BPA at those positions imo. Just my personal preference i guess.
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Old 02-10-2010, 10:49 AM   #4
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Default Re: Free agency look: The offensive line

I really dont see the Steelers spending any money in Free Agency on the O line. They already spent it last year by giving new 4-year contracts to Starks, Kemo and Hartwig. I think they will continue to try and build thru the draft and give Colon a qualifying offer to make him a RFA worth a 1st round pick if he leaves.
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Old 02-10-2010, 12:07 PM   #5
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Default Re: Free agency look: The offensive line

I don't see much happening here. Colon is OK, and either way, they'll probably bring him back. If anything, I could see us bringing in someone to compete with Essex --who was a hell of a lot better than Stapleton, by the way -- or eventually replace Starks, who I see as average but WAY overpaid.

I don't buy the talk of moving Starks to RT -- I mean, every time we put him there, he ends up on the bench within a few weeks. I suspect that's because he sucks at RT.
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Old 02-10-2010, 12:11 PM   #6
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Default Re: Free agency look: The offensive line

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I don't see much happening here. Colon is OK, and either way, they'll probably bring him back. If anything, I could see us bringing in someone to compete with Essex --who was a hell of a lot better than Stapleton, by the way -- or eventually replace Starks, who I see as average but WAY overpaid.

I don't buy the talk of moving Starks to RT -- I mean, every time we put him there, he ends up on the bench within a few weeks. I suspect that's because he sucks at RT.
Urbik was drafted in the 3rd to compete at RT, but despite the emergence of Foster, I still think we are OK there and Urbik will develop. I do see us thin at OT, with only Starks, Colon, Essex, Hills who are OT's on the roster.

I will not be surprised to see an OT drafted or a vet signed off the scrap heap if he comes cheap. I still think the Steelers believe they have their guys on the roster and will look to Kugler to develop them.
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Old 02-10-2010, 01:14 PM   #7
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Default Re: Free agency look: The offensive line

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I will not be surprised to see an OT drafted or a vet signed off the scrap heap if he comes cheap. I still think the Steelers believe they have their guys on the roster and will look to Kugler to develop them.
That's pretty much my thinking as well. Unless they decide to write off Hills or Urbik early, and add someone they think might develop, I don't see any major action on the O-line front. It's not as desperate as in 2008, and I really think getting Stapleton out of there might have been the key that stabilized the whole situation. Which is also why I'd be surprised to see him back in any capacity, since he's also not the only backup center anymore.
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Old 02-10-2010, 02:10 PM   #8
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Default Re: Free agency look: The offensive line

i think hills gets shown the door this year ,ala bruce davis. urbik not being able to earn a uni over undrafted foster certainly doesn't bode well for him.
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Old 02-10-2010, 02:36 PM   #9
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Default Re: Free agency look: The offensive line

MOP, I half agree with you about Hills....but I keep thinking they give him the Trai Essex plan of letting him hang around for 4 years before ever having to contribute. Still pitiful considering they could have drafted a better lineman in the 4th instead.

BTW, nice Sig!! I'm putting you on ignore.
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Old 02-10-2010, 03:09 PM   #10
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Default Re: Free agency look: The offensive line

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MOP, I half agree with you about Hills....but I keep thinking they give him the Trai Essex plan of letting him hang around for 4 years before ever having to contribute. Still pitiful considering they could have drafted a better lineman in the 4th instead.

BTW, nice Sig!! I'm putting you on ignore.
well if they're planning on getting serious about upgrading then they have to free up roster spots.. who better to release then a guy who can't get a backup uni ?
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