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Old 01-10-2012, 06:29 AM   #1
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Default Bires: Bank on Steelers making change

Bires: Bank on Steelers making change
http://www.timesonline.com/sports/st...tml?mode=print
By Mike Bires mbires@timesonline.com | Posted: Monday, January 9, 2012 8:01 pm

PITTSBURGH -- Mike Tomlin has begun season-in-review exit interviews, and for some Steelers, they'll be exiting permanently.

Change is inevitable after every season but there figures to be wide-spread changes for the Steelers this off-season. The team that saw its Super Bowl hopes end prematurely Sunday night in Denver needs to get younger and better.

"Formally and informally, it starts immediately," Tomlin said of the process of figuring out who the Steelers retain or who they sever ties with.

Some decisions may be made by the players themselves.

In all likelihood, defensive end Aaron Smith will retire, as he should. Why would he want to be back next year at age 36 after missing significant chunks of the past three seasons with injuries, including a neck injury this year?

Backup nose tackle Chris Hoke also may retire. After his neck surgery, he said he wanted to come back next year. But will the Steelers even want to bring him back next year when he'll be 36? Second-year pro Steve McLendon was more than an adequate backup after Hoke went down.

Then there's Hines Ward. What will become of him?

Ward, 35, has two years left on his contract. But as we saw Sunday in Ward's 18th post-season game, he has virtually no role in the offense. He was the No. 5 wide receiver in Denver. What kind of role could he possibly have next year?

There's no way the Steelers are going to cut their all-time leading receiver but they have to be hoping Ward decides to retire now that he has his 1,000 career catches. And even if Ward does insist on playing next year, his $4 million base salary will be slashed significantly.

Obviously, the Steelers need an upgrade on the offensive line.

Max Starks and Trai Essex are unrestricted free agents who may not be asked to return. There are grumblings at team headquarters that Chris Kemeoatu is on his way out. Granted, he's played hurt at times but he's so inconsistent and penalty prone. He's due to make $3.577 million next year. At that price, there's no way he'll be back.

On defense, cornerback Bryant McFadden will be gone. The Steelers have a bunch of talented young corners they're high on. Why pay McFadden the $2.5 million he'd be due?

And since the Steelers are already $15 million over the projected $125 million salary cap, there are no guarantees some established veterans on defense will back. Nose tackle Casey Hampton, who'll be 35, is due to make $4.89 million. Linebacker James Farrior, who's 37, is due to make $2.825 million.

"At the end of this thing, the wheels do continue to turn," Tomlin said. "There will be some changes. We will see where this all takes us."

Who knows?

There may 10 or more new Steelers on the 53-man roster by the time the 2012 season starts in September.
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Old 01-10-2012, 07:25 AM   #2
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Default Re: Bires: Bank on Steelers making change

I think Ward serves as an extra coach of sorts for the young receivers. It's probably good to keep him around in that capacity and utilize him when our younger guys need a breather or as a nice change of pace possession receiver.
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Old 01-10-2012, 07:38 AM   #3
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Default Re: Bires: Bank on Steelers making change

very good point to be made

If it were up to me - Ward stays - regardless of role or lack there of. Nothing wrong with an aging #5 WR that happens to be one of the greatest, has plenty to teach and still remains one hell of a blocker. When you have Brown, Wallace, Sanders, Cotchery - no need to go after a high draft pick on a WR. Who knows if Battle comes back - not like he gets field time outside of ST anyways. I have faith this group will finally have the offseason time with Ben to get where they need to be. They are still young and have the time to gel - why not do it with Ward in a Charlie Batch role? Let Ward stay - it won't hurt the team at all. Just have to believe it would be at a discount.

Might want to consider keeping 1 of 2 in regards to Starks, Essex

Other than that, unfortunately to me, it is time to make some really tough choices.

This year's draft is uber-critical in refreshing and reloading the team. To me - we have no business drafting a WR higher than the 4th round. O-line, ILB, D-line, OLB - thoughts?
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Old 01-10-2012, 07:47 AM   #4
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Default Re: Bires: Bank on Steelers making change

Ward can teach the O-line how to freaking block!!!
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Old 01-10-2012, 08:37 AM   #5
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Default Re: Bires: Bank on Steelers making change

If the Steelers have a bunch of talented young corners they're high on, why weren't they in the game on Sunday?

Or were they just high?
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Old 01-10-2012, 09:12 AM   #6
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Default Re: Bires: Bank on Steelers making change

Quote:
Originally Posted by steelfury02 View Post
very good point to be made

If it were up to me - Ward stays - regardless of role or lack there of. Nothing wrong with an aging #5 WR that happens to be one of the greatest, has plenty to teach and still remains one hell of a blocker. When you have Brown, Wallace, Sanders, Cotchery - no need to go after a high draft pick on a WR. Who knows if Battle comes back - not like he gets field time outside of ST anyways. I have faith this group will finally have the offseason time with Ben to get where they need to be. They are still young and have the time to gel - why not do it with Ward in a Charlie Batch role? Let Ward stay - it won't hurt the team at all. Just have to believe it would be at a discount.

Might want to consider keeping 1 of 2 in regards to Starks, Essex

Other than that, unfortunately to me, it is time to make some really tough choices.

This year's draft is uber-critical in refreshing and reloading the team. To me - we have no business drafting a WR higher than the 4th round. O-line, ILB, D-line, OLB - thoughts?
Ward is a $4.6 million hit to the cap for 2012. Even if you slash it by MORE than 50% he'll still be a $2 mill hit....Wallace played for $700,000 this year and is heading into restricted Free Agency. Yes, he disappeared the last 6 games and really had a horrible playoff game...but he's proven he can be a great receiver and will be paid top WR money elsewhere if the Steelers don't pony up, which I believe they will. Sanders and Brown will be restricted FA's after next season. The Steelers will want to secure both. COMBINED those two will only be a $1.2 million hit to the cap. You can't really pay Hines $2 million when your most productive receivers, combined, will hardly be making more than that.

Arnez Battle has to go....a $1.3 million paycheck for ST play? Hardly.

Kemo is a must go. You can't make $5 million and do nothing but allow your QB to get hit and sacked. McFadden, Smith and Hoke are obviously dead weight. Combined those 3 made about $9.4 million this year. Smith and Hoke are UFA this year and should retire. Hampton, at 34, coming off an ACL is hardly worth the $8 million hit. It's probably time for Farrior to go. He's scheduled to make nearly $4 million in 2012.

The cap situation looks scary when you think about being over by $25 million...but the good news is there is a lot of money tied up in non-producers. I think many of the decisions will be easy for the Steeler's front office to make.
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Old 01-10-2012, 09:17 AM   #7
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Default Re: Bires: Bank on Steelers making change

Quote:
Originally Posted by ColoradoSteelerFan View Post
Ward is a $4.6 million hit to the cap for 2012. Even if you slash it by MORE than 50% he'll still be a $2 mill hit....Wallace played for $700,000 this year and is heading into restricted Free Agency. Yes, he disappeared the last 6 games and really had a horrible playoff game...but he's proven he can be a great receiver and will be paid top WR money elsewhere if the Steelers don't pony up, which I believe they will. Sanders and Brown will be restricted FA's after next season. The Steelers will want to secure both. COMBINED those two will only be a $1.2 million hit to the cap. You can't really pay Hines $2 million when your most productive receivers, combined, will hardly be making more than that.

Arnez Battle has to go....a $1.3 million paycheck for ST play? Hardly.

Kemo is a must go. You can't make $5 million and do nothing but allow your QB to get hit and sacked. McFadden, Smith and Hoke are obviously dead weight. Combined those 3 made about $9.4 million this year. Smith and Hoke are UFA this year and should retire. Hampton, at 34, coming off an ACL is hardly worth the $8 million hit. It's probably time for Farrior to go. He's scheduled to make nearly $4 million in 2012.

The cap situation looks scary when you think about being over by $25 million...but the good news is there is a lot of money tied up in non-producers. I think many of the decisions will be easy for the Steeler's front office to make.
I agree with your point about Kemo....but i'll bet he stays. The reason being is we have no depth and a hobbled line as it is, and his "run" blocking is constantly praised.
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Old 01-10-2012, 09:54 AM   #8
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Default Re: Bires: Bank on Steelers making change

Cotchery was signed for only one season. Right now he's a priority over Hines Ward. There are at least 7 players who need to be let go of on this roster anyway. I like Hoke over Hampton. Hoke's record as a starter is unreal. And he has better feet than Casey. Hoke and McLendon can hold down the NT spot.

I see nothing but bigger and brighter things for the Steelers. Finally redmen was given a chance and he excelled. Just like the fans clamored for.
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Old 01-10-2012, 10:10 AM   #9
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Default Re: Bires: Bank on Steelers making change

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I agree with your point about Kemo....but i'll bet he stays. The reason being is we have no depth and a hobbled line as it is, and his "run" blocking is constantly praised.
You can get ALOT of guard for $5 million.

Consider the cap hits on the Pro Bowlers for this season

Logan Makins (NE): $4.8 million
Brian Waters (NE): $3.5 million
Marshal Yanda (Bal): $4.0 million
Jahri Evans (NO): $4.7 million
Carl Nicks (NO): $2.6 million

Here is a list of the 2012 free agents at the guard position...might be time to tap into that market

Stacy Andrews UFA New York
Allen Barbre UFA Seattle
Jacob Bell UFA St. Louis
Mackenzy Bernadeau UFA Carolina
Dorian Brooks RFA Pittsburgh
Kirk Chambers UFA Atlanta
Derrick Dockery UFA Dallas
Brandyn Dombrowski RFA San Diego
Paul Fanaika RFA Seattle
Ramon Foster RFA Pittsburgh
Mike Gibson UFA Seattle
Adam Goldberg UFA St. Louis
Ben Grubbs UFA Baltimore
Russ Hochstein UFA Denver
Montrae Holland UFA Dallas
Taitusi Lutui UFA Arizona
Logan Mankins UFA New England
Evan Mathis UFA Philadelphia
Mike McGlynn UFA Philadelphia
Scott Mruczkowski UFA San Diego
Carl Nicks UFA New Orleans
Jamey Richard UFA Indianapolis
Jake Scott UFA Tennessee
Donald Thomas UFA Detroit
Steve Vallos UFA Cleveland
Brian Waters UFA Kansas City
Bobbie Williams UFA Cincinnati
Floyd Womack UFA Arizona
Tony Wragge UFA San Francisco
Jeremy Zuttah UFA Tampa Bay
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Old 01-10-2012, 11:15 AM   #10
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Default Re: Bires: Bank on Steelers making change

I'm fine with that list of people leaving. If we want Hines Ward for a coach, hire him as a WR coach. I think we need to model this offseason like the Ravens. OMG, yes I just said Ravens. I know we all hate the Ravens, but they deserve credit. They changed up their team a lot. They changed up their schemes a lot. It was very successful. We stayed the same with the same schemes. That's why they wiped us in the first game of the season. I'm sorry but Arians has to go. I know little Ben loves him and Tomlin doesn't have the balls to split up that love affair. But the change has to come because we are too predictable on offense especially in our own division. I watch the same plays over and over. The Ravens changed this and they made us look silly. I credit it to their turn around of a season where everyone had them finishing near last place.
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