The New England Patriots aren’t satisfied with stealing AFC Championship games from the Pittsburgh Steelers. Now they’re out to steal our players. After cutting ties with Wes Welker earlier this off-season, the Fighting Belicheats have been looking everywhere for weapons to add to Tom Brady‘s arsenal. Evidently they found one in wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders.
New England signed Manny to one year $2.5 million offer sheet yesterday afternoon. Since Sanders is a restricted free agent, the Steelers now have five days to match their offer or else Sanders becomes Patriots’ property in exchange for their third round pick in the upcoming draft. Since the Steelers have already tendered him $1.3 million, they actually only need to offer another $1.2 million to keep him. Early word from ESPN No-Nothing Ed Werder is the Steelers are expected to match.
At this point, it seems like the Steelers are in a lose-lose situation either way.
If they don’t match, Antonio Brown will be the last member of Young Money left standing. While breaking up that group of underachieving punks isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it does leave the team’s wide receiving corps dangerously thin. Subtract Manny and our current depth chart looks like this: AB and Jerricho Cotchery starting with Plaxico Burress playing the slot. Sure Sanders had his problems last season but that’s the kind of line-up nightmares are made of. If we lose Sanders, the Steelers will have to use one of their first two picks in the upcoming draft on a wide out.
If they do match, well, they still need to take a wide receiver. But before they can sign any of this year’s draft picks, they’ll have some work to do to get under the salary cap. According to ProFootballTalk, the Steelers are currently a measly $2.5 million under the cap. Giving Sanders another million plus means they’ll need to clear another chunk of space in order to sign their picks.
$2.5 million under the cap. Seriously, I can’t get over that number. Where the bloody blue hell is all their money going? Don’t say Ben because the Patriots have Tom Brady and they’re still a whopping $10 million under the cap. We haven’t signed a single name free agent. We let Rashard Mendenhall and Mike Wallace walk away. We cut James Harrison and re-worked a bunch of other high priced contracts. I could see if this was a team coming off a Super Bowl victory but the Steelers got Tebow’d out of the playoffs two years ago and went 8-8 last year. Why are they paying a bunch of mediocre shitbums all of this money?
What the f*%k is this team doing?
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One NFL agent has already been fired due to free agency incompetence. Another may soon join him.
Linebacker Elvis Dumervil was happily employed by the Denver Broncos, who were scheduled to pay him $12 million next season. After signing some name free agents (Wes Welker and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie), the Broncos found themselves over the salary cap. Under NFL bylaws, after any new signing, a team has a window of 48 hours to get in compliance with the cap or they risk forfeiting a first or second round draft pick. Dumervil agreed to rework his contract to help Denver out but thanks some sort of fax machine shenanigans, the papers weren’t signed in time and the team was forced to release him.
Dumervil quickly became a hot commodity as no fewer than five teams were bidding for his services. The Pittsburgh Steelers were among his suitors as were the Baltimore Ravens. The Ratbirds ultimately won the Dumervil sweepstakes, signing him to a five year deal that will pay him $8.5 million this season although only $2.5 of it counts against the cap (the bulk of his first year salary comes in the form of a signing bonus). Why can’t supposed salary cap sooper-genius Omar Khan work out these kind of deals?
The addition of Dumervil is quite the coup for the Ravens, who have lost five defensive starters this off-season. At 29 years old, Dumervil is an accomplished pass rusher having posted 17, 9.5 and 11 sacks the past three years. Paired with Terrell Suggs, they should form one of the better OLB duos in the AFC.
When word broke of Dumervil signing with Baltimore, Steeler fans immediately went into sour grapes mode, pointing out Doom’s limited experience as a 3-4 OLB (he began his career as a 4-3 DE) and his so-so ability to stop the run. Anybody who doesn’t think Dumervil would’ve been a huge asset to the Steelers is completely insane. Had they signed him, he immediately would’ve been the team’s best pass rusher as he’s infinitely more talented than Jason Worilds and has grossly outperformed LaMarr Woodley the past few seasons. What’s more, at 29 years old, he’s got at least three or four more prime years left before age and injury start to catch up with him.
With Dumervil off the table, rumor has it the Steelers have turned their sights to former Colts DE Dwight Freeney. At this point, Freeney is nothing more than a poor man’s Dumervil. Sure he might come cheaper but in football as with smoked ham, you get what you pay for. Freeney is older (33), has a more worrisome injury history, and appears to be a horrible fit for our defense. Where Dumervil shifted from DE to OLB without missing a beat, Freeney moved to OLB last season and recorded a career-low 5 sacks. Freeney isn’t an upgrade over Dumervil, he’s not even an upgrade over the man he’s ostensibly replacing, James Harrison.
Ah, poor Deebo. The agent I mentioned who may soon find himself unemployed (if not naked in a gutter with dog bites and “BMF” tattood on his left butt cheek) is the assclown representing James Harrison. Harrison was scheduled to make $6.57 million this season but the Steelers asked him to take a 30% pay cut down to roughly $4.5 million. He balked thinking he could easily command his original salary on the open market. How sadly he was mistaken.
According to reports, the market for Harrison’s rapidly declining skills is tepid to say the least. In fact it’s so icy that Harrison’s agent has already started floating the idea that James would be open to returning to the Steelers, presumably for the salary he idiotically turned down in the first place. For their part, the Steelers have leaked word that they have no interest in bringing a grovelling Harrison back at any price. Ouch.
The thing is, yes, Harrison is in the twilight of his career. And yes, he was dumb for not agreeing to take the pay cut when it was offered. At the same time, Harrison was the team’s best pass rusher last season and until Woodley discovers the Stairmaster, would still be so heading into this one. Even with eroding skills, Harrison is a better option than either Jason Worilds or Dwight Freeney. Of course, there are still players left to be signed and the draft can change a lot of things so it’s not imperative the Steelers decide on the lesser of three evils. However, they better do something or risk falling even further behind their AFC North rivals.
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There are thirty-two teams in the National Football League. According the Pittsburgh Steelers, there is but only one. At least, that’s the impression one sometimes gets from the moves they make. The Steelers have signed five free agents thus far, two played for them last year (Larry Foote and Plaxico Burress) and another two were longtime Steelers who played elsewhere in recent years (William Gay and the recently signed Matt Spaeth).
The only non-Steeler to be signed was back-up quarterback Bruce Gradkowski, who happens to be a Pittsburgh native. And we laugh about the Cardinals being Steel City-centric…
Anyway, the return of Spaeth gives the Steelers a little insurance at the tight end position going into camp. Heath Miller tore his knee to hell in last season’s finale so it’s anybody’s guess if he’ll be ready by camp or what they can realistically expect out of him in 2013. Heath’s a man’s man and not a lazy fatass like LaMarr Woodley so I’m sure he’ll do everything he can to come back but when your rip every ligament in your knee that ends with CL, it’s best not to set exceptions too high.
Heath is that rare talent that excels at both catching passes and blocking. The Steelers have two tight ends currently on the roster who can conceivably pick up the slack catching the ball. Unfortunately, neither David Paulsen nor Leonard Pope is considered much of a blocker. Some website called Pro Football Focus, which tries to ruin football with a bunch of useless made-up stats like those sabrematrician dorks ruined baseball, claims their analysis “proves” Spaeth was the best blocking TE in football last season. As somebody who’s actually watched him play, that notion is laughable even though he is a certainly an upgrade over both our current TEs in the trenches.
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Day Two of NFL Free Agency was even more wild than Day One. At some point the NFL really should consider televising these things since it makes for great theater. Just gather all the big name free agents in a room and have them pick the hat of the team they decided to sign with like high school kids making their college commitment. It’d be a lot more interesting than listening to talking heads on the NFL Network or spamming the F5 button while visiting Profootballtalk.
For the Pittsburgh Steelers, Day Two saw them lose a pair of starters. To nobody’s chagrin, former first round pick Rashard Mendenhall signed elsewhere, joining head coach Bruce Arians in the deserts of Arizona. Looks like Arizona will continue to act as Pittsburgh West for discarded Steelers despite the departure of Ken Whisenhunt. I wonder if Rashard has a compass so he can be sure to face Mecca during his daily prayers to Allah? Also, it’s kinda ironic that the coach who brought the Flying Circus here to Pittsburgh made his first big free agent acquisition a running back.
The Steelers also cut overpaid fatass Willie Colon. Thus ends one of the most mind-boggling signings in team history. Colon was a 2006 fourth round draft pick out of Hofstra who unseated Max Starks for the starting RT job when Big Max found himself in the dog house following the team’s disappointing post-Super Bowl XL campaign. Colon served on a series of lines that surrendered an insane amount of sacks although he was the starting RT when they won Super Bowl XLIII. Colon was, at best, an average tackle playing a position so easy undrafted rookie Kelvin Beachum handled it fine when pressed into duty last season.
Despite being stunningly mediocre and missing the entire 2010 season due to an off-season injury, the Steelers saw fit to gift Colon a five year $29 million contract the following spring. He repaid their generosity by tearing his triceps in week 1 and sitting out the rest of the 2011 season. The Steelers moved Colon to guard last year and while he proved to be a pretty nasty run blocker he also served as a flag magnet. This time he lasted twelve whole games before blowing out his knee. By cutting Colon, the Steelers lop a whopping $5.5 million dollars off their cap.
Between Colon’s departure and reworking the contract of another lazy fatso, LaMarr Woodley, the Steelers finally have some room under the salary cap. They still have to keep a chunk open for the draft and to sign their RFAs but at least they can now afford to bring in a cheap veteran or two to help fill in some of their numerous holes.
One area they finally addressed is the back-up quarterback. Ben Roethlisberger is a tough man but his sandlot style of play and advancing age make it nearly certain that he’ll miss a game or two every season. The past couple seasons the team put their faith in
China Doll Byron Leftwich who has the unfortunate habit of getting injured tying his shoes in pre-game warm-ups. It was absolutely imperative they sign a dependable back-up.
And they’ve finally done so by bringing hometown boy Bruce Gradkowski back to the ‘Burgh. Gradkowski, who grew up in Dormont and played for Seton-LaSalle, signed a three year deal which may finally signal the end for another local product, Charlie Batch. Gradkowski has bounced around the league, playing for five different teams in his seven year career. He’s fluctuated between starter and back-up, starting three games against the Steelers during that time. His most notable career start came against the Steelers as he was the quarterback who engineered the Raiders memorable upset of the defending Super Bowl champs during the Hangover season of 2009. Gradkowski is the ideal back-up, a durable dependable guy who can come in and win a game for you if need be.
He’s also a yinzer which will probably lessen the blow should the Steelers finally decide to part ways with Batch. It’s no secret the Steelers have been trying to rid themselves of Chaz for a couple years now only for those plans to be undone by Leftwich’s brittleness and Dennis Dixon’s abject stupidity. With Gradkowski slotting nicely into a #2 role, the team can either draft a developmental QB or sign a young guy off another team’s practice squad. Although let’s hope all those high draft picks they’ve invested in their offensive line pay some dividends in the form of a nice healthy Big Ben.
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In a little less than two hours, the NFL free agency period officially begins. If you believe the rumors, sometime shortly thereafter the Pittsburgh Steelers will lose at least two and more likely three starters. Mike Wallace and Rashard Mendenhall are certainly gone. Wallace is reportedly taking his talent to South Beach for somewhere north of $10 million per season. By “talent,” I of course mean his one and only talent of running really fast in a straight line. Mendenhall won’t be overpaid nearly as much although word is he’s being viewed as the best running back available this off-season. Several teams have been tied to him with the Denver Broncos being the early favorites to enjoy his butterfingers and hip-hop stylings behind the line of scrimmage.
The third departure will certainly hurt more than the first two. The Steelers would like to bring CB Keenan Lewis back but in a thin market and with good young secondary talent at a premium, it’s likely they won’t be able to offer him what some other team does. The Steelers have other options at corner as I’ve already written although Lewis is the kind of guy good teams keep around. While I personally think Cortez Allen is too good not to start, it hurts to spend years drafting and developing a guy like Lewis only for him to go elsewhere while we’re stuck bringing back a mediocre retread like William Gay.
The Steelers have deviated from the Steeler Way and are paying for it now and likely in the immediate future. They used to have no qualms about jettisoning expensive veterans in favor of reloading with younger guys. For whatever reason, they held the current team together long past it’s expiration date and those big money veteran contracts have left the team in salary cap hell. While those with tons of money to spend are almost always teams that suck (Miami, Cleveland) or successful teams winning with a lot of guys in their first few years in the league who are still on their relatively cheap rookie contracts (Seattle, San Fransisco), it can’t be argued that the Steelers paid too much money to too many guys who were either past their prime or too injury prone to reach it.
With James Harrison‘s recent release and the earlier contract reworkings, the Steelers managed to get themselves around $10 million or so under the cap. They offered minimum tenders to four restricted free agents (meaning any team that signs them has to surrender a pick equal to the round they were picked in if the Steelers opt not to match) and re-signed G Ramon Foster to a three year/$6 million deal and ILB Larry Foote to a two year/$5 million deal which knocks that number down to around $2.5 million or so.
Manny Sanders, Steve McClendon, Isaac Redman, and Jonathan Dwyer all received $1.3 million tenders. Dwyer signed his right away which is unusual since players usually wait to see if a better offer is forthcoming. Dwyer clearly wanted to show the Steelers he was serious about wearing the Black and Gold and serious about being the team’s featured back next year. Sanders is probably safe under the minimum tender since he was a third round pick and it’s unlikely a team would want to surrender a premium pick for him. McClendon and Redzone aren’t sure things since they were undrafted and thus teams can sign them without losing a pick. If McClendon goes elsewhere, the Steelers nose tackle options will be limited to squeezing another year out of broken down Casey Hampton or rolling the dice with homicidal maniac Alameda Ta’amu.
The Steelers did manage to reel in one big free agent to off-set the loss of Wallace. “Big” as in literally large, not a big name unless you’ve just stepped out of Delorean that came from 2003. Plaxico Burress re-signed with the team that originally drafted him way back in 2000. He’s being brought back to give Ben Roethlisberger the tall wide receiver he’s wanted for several years now. Plax is old (35) and slow but he’s still 6’5 so he could be a decent red zone threat. Best of all, he’s dirt cheap.
Cheap is where the Steelers are right now. Yeah, winning the off-season is usually zero indication of actually winning when the 2013 season kicks off six months from now. However, the Steelers are an aging group with plenty of holes to fill. It would be nice to have a little money to spend instead of the traditional dumpster diving. Unfortunately, dumpster diving it is.
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NFL free agency begins on March 12th. Since teams have to be in compliance with the 2013 salary cap by the start of the new league year, the weeks leading up to that date feature teams working feverishly to get under the magic number. Unless of course you’re the Cleveland Browns and are already way way under the cap because your entire roster is stocked with rookies and has-beens. For the successful teams, the figure they’re working to get under is $123 million.
There are three ways to go about this. First, you release guys. Secondly, you convince an underachieving player to take a pay cute. And then we have the method preferred by the Pittsburgh Steelers. You take guys currently under contract and rework that contract so they’re still paid the same amount but the cap hit is significantly less. The only drawback to that method is you’re not actually solving your cap issues, you’re just shifting the bulk of the burden to a later date.
Well, it works for the government. Maybe Omar Khan should be appointed Treasury Secretary.
Last year’s round of restructurings left the Steelers roughly $15 million over the cap the minute clock struck zero at the Super Bowl. Over the past week, they’ve redone three big contracts in order to lop almost that exact amount off their 2013 cap hit. I’ve discussed their favorite trick before but very quickly for the newbies what they do is exploit a quirk in the CBA (which I’m shocked nobody thought to close during the lock out) which says 100% of a players salary counts against the cap but you can prorate signing bonuses over the length of the deal.
Let’s take one of this year’s restructures as an example. Lawrence Timmons was due to make $5 million this season. Instead, he’s going to be making the veteran minimum (about a million dollars) with the other four being converted into a signing bonus. Timmons has four years left on his deal so prorating the remaining $4 million, Timmons goes from a cap hit of $5 million to around $2 million. Ben Roethlisberger restructured his deal to save the team around $6 million while Antonio Brown redid his pact to bring the team right under the cap.
The Steelers still have some work to do because they need to be a good $10 million or so under the cap just to conduct league business. They need to allot a chunk of money for the draft (about $5 mill) and another $5 million if they tender minimum contracts to their restricted free agents, among whom include Isaac Redman, Baron Batch, Manny Sanders, and Steve McClendon.
While they’ll likely continue their habit of dumpster diving for unrestricted free agents, the team probably needs to clear at least another five million or so in order to make offers to vets like Larry Foote and Max Starks. The Steeles don’t usually go after other team’s castoffs but rumor has it they’ve been eying former Cardinals/Chiefs receiver Steve Breaston as a potential replacement for Mike Wallace while also having an interest in bringing in some veteran depth at QB, RB and/or OL.
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I hate to sound like a broken record but…
With the 2012 NFL Draft three days away, the Pittsburgh Steelers have something else to worry about. Reports have surfaced that restricted free agent wide receiver Mike Wallace has told people within the organization that he doesn’t plan to sign his tender offer “until he has to.” As I predicted last week, it’s looking more and more like Wallace is going to be a major pain in the ass until he gets the big money long term contract he covets.
The Steelers have historically not responded well to threats, however vague. Seriously, could Wallace be any more cryptic with his words? “Until he has to” can mean any one of several different things. Some of them are only slightly more annoying than a child pouting because his mom won’t buy him a brand new toy while others could have significant consequences for both Wallace and the team going forward. Worst case scenario has us facing another Vincent Jackson situation, which all but wrecked the Chargers last year. At first I thought that possibility fairly remote but it’s becoming increasingly clear that Wallace is every bit as selfish and lacking in character as V-Jax.
According to Adam Schefter at the Four Letter, the Steelers believe Wallace’s words mean he will hold out through the off-season and all of training camp. This presents an interesting dynamic for the Steelers. As reader Jeff reminded me in a previous column, the CBA states that if a player doesn’t sign his tender by June 15th, the team can rip it up and offer him 110% of his previous year’s salary instead. Which means if the Steelers truly want to dick over with their disgruntled wide out, they can snatch the $2.67 million offer from Wallace’s greedy little hands and replace it with a contract for a measly $600,000.
Of course, Wallace could then escalate this game of Thermonuclear War by sitting out during the regular season. He only needs half a year of service to qualify for unrestricted free agency. Which means, like Jackson before him, he could sit at home until well into the 2012 campaign. If he does that, however, the Steelers could still Franchise tag him after the season. As you can see, there are nearly infinite number of moves and counter moves, all of which lead to nothing but confusion, chaos, and bad feelings from both sides.
I don’t profess to be able to read the minds of the Steelers’ brain-trust but going by their history, I can’t see them putting up with Wallace if he continues to be a hassle. Nor do I see them being held hostage by a one-trick pony wideout. They’ve cut ties in the past with star receivers (Santonio Holmes) and high draft picks (Plaxico Burress) without a second thought so I can’t imagine them bending over backwards to placate Mike Wallace, no matter how valuable the arrogant jackass thinks he is. The offense could easily go forward with Antonio Brown and Manny Sanders in the starting line-up, both of whom have shown plenty of ability as COMPLETE wide receivers, in addition to veteran Jerricho Cotchery.
If Wallace plans to miss one day of the regular season, I would hope the Steelers have already made phone calls to gauge what kind of draft pick(s) they could get for him. Setting aside whether or not you agree Wallace deserves LarryFitz money, Pittsburgh simply doesn’t need that kind of distraction. If they allow Wallace to hold them hostage, what’s to stop the next player or the next one to employ similar tactics? It’s a slippy slope to anarchy, one the Steelers have traditionally managed to avoid.
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The Pittsburgh Steelers are nothing if not predictable. Every year, fans of other teams anxiously count down the minutes until the start of the NFL’s free agency period. And for the first week or two, there is frantic activity as those teams battle each other for the right to throw untold millions at players somebody else didn’t want. All the while, the Steelers sit back, relax, maybe take in a hockey game and basically do nothing.
Then, when the smoke has cleared, they make like a grey-haired old lady visiting a yard sale and sift through the leftovers in hopes of finding some bonafide bargains amongst the creepy garden gnomes and tacky Elvis clocks.
Yesterday, the Black and Gold signed tight end Leonard Pope to a one year deal. Today, they locked up wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery with a two year contract. Both signings may have come late but both are quality players. In fact, Cotchery had a number of teams pursuing his services before ultimately deciding to return to Pittsburgh.
Cotchery, a Jets draft pick back in 2004, was a starter for New York the majority of his time there. He posted his first 1,000 yard season in 2007 and just missed another the following year (960 yards). With the arrival of Santonio Homes and Braylon Edwards in 2010, Cotchery saw his playing time drastically reduced. Going into 2011, Cotchery was told his role would continue to diminish so he asked to be released. The Jets granted his request and the Steelers picked him up as a stop-gap while Emmanuel Sanders recovered from a pre-season knee injury.
Jerricho was an afterthought early on but halfway through the season Mike Tomlin finally realized Hines Ward was washed up and moved the Cotch Rocket into his role as the team’s slot receiver. It paid immediate dividends as Cotchery caught three passes for 44 yards against the Ravens, then caught a key touchdown the next week against the Bengals. He should’ve had two TDs that day as one was later wiped off the board thanks to a holding penalty. Cotchery also caught a TD in the season-ending debacle in Denver.
When the Steelers signed Cotch, I described him as a Poor Man’s Hines. That description proved fairly accurate. He doesn’t have blazing speed and he’s not a big play threat but he’s got sure hands and isn’t afraid to catch the ball in traffic. Word was he was looking to sign with a team that would give him more playing time which makes his re-signing with the Steelers curious. I don’t see him playing ahead of Manny Sanders although Sanders hasn’t had much lucky staying healthy. Perhaps they’ll rotate the two in the slot with Cotchery getting more snaps in the red zone, where his catch-and-run ability has proven valuable.
Regardless, I’m glad to see Cotchery return to the Black and Gold next season. Between him and the Young Money crew, not to mention three excellent pass catching tight ends, the Steelers’ aerial attack is loaded with talent. Hopefully somebody in that group will prove adept at finding the end zone in 2012.
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The Pittsburgh Steelers have signed their first real free agent of the off-season. And it’s a…
Leonard Pope agreed to a one year deal yesterday, reuniting him with brand new Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley. Pope is something of a professional stalker, having followed Haley across the country since being drafted in the third round back in 2006. Pope started with the Cardinals (A Pope on the Cardinals? Did Tim Tebow know about this?) when Haley was their OC, then joined him in Kansas City when Haley took over the head coaching job there. He’s been a starter for most of his career, including last season which saw him catch a personal best 24 passes for 247 yards and one touchdown.
Pope won’t displace our current starter, Heath Miller. Heath remains one of the best all-around tight ends in the game. But at 6’8 and 260 pounds, Pope can be useful as a big target in the red zone, something Ben Roethlisberger and the offense has needed for awhile now. At least now the team can bring in a tall receiver without hurting Hines Ward’s feelings.
Pope’s signing calls into question the status of the other tight ends on the roster. Wes Saunders is a youngster with a ton of potential but he’ll have to sit out the first month of the season due to testing positive for performance enhancing drugs. Word around town is the drug he got busted for was either Adderall or a similar ADD treatment so the Steelers don’t view the suspension as a cuttable offense. That leaves David Johnson, who has been the team’s fullback/TE hybrid under former OC Bruce Arians. At KC, Haley preferred to use a pure fullback which Johnson clearly is not. Since I doubt the team will carry four active TEs once Saunders serves out his suspension, I imagine DJ will be the odd man out with the team perhaps finding a more traditional FB through the draft or as an undrafted free agent.
No report what kind of money Pope signed for. The fact the Steelers spent any money at all seems to be another signal that they don’t think anybody is going to make a play for restricted free agent Mike Wallace. Since the great Purge early last month, the Steelers have been sitting on a $5-6 million nest egg which I’ve dubbed the “Keep Your Damn Hands Off Wallace” Fund. While I doubt Pope signed for any significant amount, the fact Kevin Colbert and company are confident enough to dip into the cash they held in reserve in case another team made an offer to Wallace seems to indicate their gamble of tendering him instead of applying the Franchise tag paid off.
At least for this year.
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Better late than never…
In an off-season which has seen a non-stop parade of starters leave town, the Pittsburgh Steelers have finally brought back one of their first stringers. Restricted free agent Ramon Foster signed his one year tender, ensuring he’ll be a Steeler in 2012. Foster was signed as an undrafted rookie back in 2009 and started four games that season. The next year, he took over for an injured and ineffective Trai Essex and has started at right guard in 22 of 32 regular season games since.
I admit reading “The Steelers signed a free agent!” or “The Steelers signed an offensive lineman!” only to discover they re-signed Foster is somewhat akin to conducting a hard target search of every gas station, residence, warehouse, farmhouse, henhouse, outhouse and doghouse in quest of your Easter Basket only to discover your parents hid it in the hamper and it’s filled with chipped ham. Foster is the kind of thoroughly mediocre lineman Kevin Colbert and company are inexplicably happy with charging to protect their $100 million franchise quarterback. If Doug Legursky also signs his tender, neither of our starting guards will have been one of the 255 best players in college football the year they graduated (ie: neither were drafted). It’s like building a beautiful mansion and then investing in two pieces of plywood and a chihuahua to defend it.
At the same time, the Steelers offensive line situation is dire. How dire? If you bring up the team’s depth chart on Steelers.com, the left guard position is completely blank. And, no, I don’t think that’s a really clever tribute to Chris Kemoeatu. Between no LGs and Max Starks, who tore his ACL so who knows if or when he’ll be ready to come back, still being listed as the starting LT, the Black and Gold are alarmingly thin on the O-line. Considering the team used something like ten different starting combinations over the course of last season, I’d like to see a minimum of five decent starters and two capable backups. With Foster’s return, at least the team’s current complement is up to four.
Foster was technically a restricted free agent but since he was undrafted and tendered a minimum contract, any team could’ve signed him for just the cost of $1.5 million. The fact he signed his tender well before the April 20th deadline for signing RFAs indicates he wasn’t exactly a hot commodity. Considering freakin’ Kemo inspired a bidding war, I’m not sure what that says about Foster. Then again, teams have shown a pronounced lack of interest in any restricted free agents this winter.
Yes, I have to once again mention Mike Wallace. If for no other reason than the fact his grizzled 60 Minutes namesake passed away at the grand old age of 93 and searches for the name Mike Wallace are probably going to spike today. No longer will the Flash be known as “The Other Mike Wallace,” at least not to those of us under the age 50. Perhaps it will also force that insufferable Chris Berman to come up with a new but equally unfunny nickname for our star receiver. Finally, I do want to note some second stringer at ProFootballTalk recently posted an item about interest in the younger, more lively Wallace having “dried up” wherein he makes the same points our buddy Hennessy already made two weeks ago.
Better late than never.