Steelers Add A Yinzer, Cut A Fatass

 Posted by at 5:45 am  Byron Leftwich, Charlie Batch, Free Agency, Offensive Line, Roster Moves  Comments Off on Steelers Add A Yinzer, Cut A Fatass
Mar 142013
 

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.

 

Steelers Sign Big Free Agents

 Posted by at 12:10 pm  Free Agency, Mike Wallace, Offensive Line, Roster Moves, Running Backs, Wide Receivers  Comments Off on Steelers Sign Big Free Agents
Mar 122013
 

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.

 

Steelers Rob Peter To Pay Pol(amalu)

 Posted by at 6:33 am  Free Agency, Roster Moves  Comments Off on Steelers Rob Peter To Pay Pol(amalu)
Mar 012013
 

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.

Mike Wallace Continues To Poke Bear

 Posted by at 7:05 am  Free Agency, Mike Tomlin, Young Money  Comments Off on Mike Wallace Continues To Poke Bear
Apr 232012
 

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.

Steelers Re-Sign Cotchery

 Posted by at 7:51 am  Free Agency, Wide Receivers  Comments Off on Steelers Re-Sign Cotchery
Apr 122012
 

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.

Todd Haley Has A Stalker

 Posted by at 8:17 am  Free Agency, Todd Haley  Comments Off on Todd Haley Has A Stalker
Apr 112012
 

The Pittsburgh Steelers have signed their first real free agent of the off-season. And it’s a…

Tight end?

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.

Steelers End Free Agent Drought

 Posted by at 6:33 am  Free Agency, Offensive Line  Comments Off on Steelers End Free Agent Drought
Apr 092012
 

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.

Mar 262012
 

The Pittsburgh Steelers have lost yet another player in an off-season that’s proving a huge boon to our local U-Haul franchises. Starting cornerback William Gay has signed with – I hope you’re sitting down – the Arizona Cardinals. Shocking news, I know. Somewhere, Hines Ward has to be kicking a chair and wondering how was it that Pittsburgh West couldn’t find a place for him.

Ironically, this isn’t the first time Ken Whisenhunt has imported a starting corner from his former team. Following our victory in Superbowl XLIII, the Cards signed then starting CB Bryant McFadden to a big money free agent deal. B-Mac flamed out spectacularly and was eventually traded back to the Steelers the following season. McFadden started for a Steeler team that was once again Super Bowl bound but was injured this past pre-season and by the time he was healthy he had lost his starting job to, yes, William Gay.

Let’s hope Will.i.am fares better than his predecessor.

For the newbies who wonder why I’ve always spelled Gay’s first name with strategically placed periods, the video above should answer your question. When he made an idiot of himself by treating the crowd at our last Super Bowl victory parade to his impromptu musical stylings, I decided to dub him Will.i.am in tribute to his budding music career. The gig in Arizona better work out because I don’t think all the Auto-Tune in the world could salvage that singing voice. At least Kanye has some sick flow, yo.

Truth be told, though, I will miss Will.i.am. His is one of the better redemption stories of recent years. When B-Mac left, Gay was thrust into the starting line-up where he became far and away the most picked on corner in the NFL. After a season long demotion back to nickel, a position he’s always filled admirably, Will.i.am battled back to reclaim his starting job this season. The second time was the charm as he played very solid corner and was a big reason the Steelers finished the year with the league’s top ranked pass defense. Who can forget his Big Gay Interceptions against Cincy and Cleveland which effectively put those games away for us?

Scuttlebutt has it Arizona Pittsburgh West is going to use Gay as their nickelback behind second year player AJ Jefferson and rising star Patrick Peterson. If anybody should know how to use him, it’s former Steelers secondary coach and current Cards defensive coordinator Ray Horton.

Meanwhile, the Steelers will go into this season with a new look secondary. Keenan Lewis did a decent job playing the nickel and the former third round pick will be given every opportunity to claim the starting job opposite Ike Taylor. Lewis has talent but he’s been slightly injury prone over his short career and has a times looked lost in man coverage.  Cortez Allen had an impressive rookie season, becoming the rare newb who sees significant playing time in Dick LeBeau’s complicated defense. He has the size (6’1) you like in a corner and has a definite nose for the football but 2012 will still be only in his second year as a pro. Barring the Steelers drafting a corner early in this year’s draft, it appears Taylor, Lewis, and Allen will comprise the secondary.

From cutting Greg Lloyd and letting Barry Foster walk to releasing Joey Porter and ridding themselves of Santonio Holmes, the Steelers have never been afraid to turn over their roster. And more often than not, the players they bring in are as good or better than the ones they let go. Still, by my count the team has now lost, either to age, injury or free agency, five starters from last year’s squad. When’s the bleeding going to stop?

Mike Wallace Wants Matrix Money

 Posted by at 7:30 am  Free Agency, Mike Wallace  Comments Off on Mike Wallace Wants Matrix Money
Mar 232012
 

By Hennessy

The San Francisco 49ers were the first team to express interest in Pittsburgh Steelers superstar Mike Wallace. Given their combination of a late first round draft pick and need for a playmaking wide receiver, the Niners were a logical suitor for his services. Rumor has it no offer was made because Wallace’s agent is telling teams that his client wants a Larry Fitzgerald level deal to lock him up past the 2012 season. In other words, Wallace thinks he’s worth a contract in excess of $15 million a year.

Is he out of his friggin’ mind? He’s been gulping down Blue Pills if he thinks he’s in the same league as LarryFitz.

By tendering the third leg of Young Money a $2.7million offer, Pittsburgh was saying “we are willing to lose a proven superstar, but not without getting something big in return.” That something being a first round draft pick, which any team signing Wallace would have to surrender to the Steelers. Even at that steep price, the Niners, Patriots, Bengals and perhaps even the Ravens were possible suitors. All those teams have late first rounders (or, in the case of Cincy and New England, two firsts) and a need for a big play wideout. However, none of them are going to make a play for Wallace unless they’re assured of signing him to a multi-year contract first.

At $8 million per season, all those teams can afford to go after Wallace. $9-10 per and NE and Baltimore likely drop out due to cap issues. When you hit $15 million per, that’s even too expensive for the Niners to afford. If Wallace truly expects LarryFitz money, the only team that could fit him under their cap are the cheapskate Bengals and their $38 million cap surplus. While it would be a strategic play to weaken the armor of their long-standing conference juggernaut, I don’t see the Cats making that move.
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Is Mendenhall Tip-Toeing Out Of Pittsburgh?

 Posted by at 5:38 am  Free Agency, Rashard Mendenhall, Redzone Redman  Comments Off on Is Mendenhall Tip-Toeing Out Of Pittsburgh?
Mar 202012
 

ProFootballTalk is reporting that the Pittsburgh Steelers may cut ties with starting running back Rashard Mendenhall. Actually, this news is being reported by Ed Bouchette of the Post-Gazette but unless you have a puppy in need of paper training you’re unable to read this information since they’ve chosen to put it behind their insipid pay wall. Please allow me to save you that $3.99 so you can spend it on a more worthy item, such as a triple cinnamon dulce non-fat latte at Starbucks or a pack of Big Red.

To recap what we already know, Mendy tore his ACL in the season finale against Cleveland. Steelers GM Kevin Colbert, making the rounds of the local talk shows, has said an ACL tear takes about a year to heal. While a player may physically return to the field sooner, it is his opinion (and mine) that a player doesn’t begin to approach their old form until at least a full year has passed. Keeping this in mind, most had assumed Mendenhall would begin the 2012 season on the PUP (physically unable to perform) list with the team having the option to activate him later in the campaign. Now it seems the injury was either more serious than originally thought or Mendy’s rehab is progressing slower than expected because Uncle Eddy is hearing from inside sources that we may have seen his last carry in the Black and Gold.

I’m not terribly surprised. Running backs are like racehorses. When a racehorse breaks his leg, they have to put him to sleep. When a running back pulls up lame, his career is over. Oh, they may come back and they may even still have a few semi-productive seasons but once a RB blows out a tire, they’ll never be the same player again. What I’m saying is, if you have the second pick in your fantasy football draft, stay the hell away from Adrian Peterson.

Considering Mendy wasn’t any great shakes before tearing his ACL, I can’t imagine he’ll blossom into an elite back in 2013. The only thing that separated Mendenhall from undrafted free agent Isaac Redman was his big play break-away speed. If his ACL costs even .1 second on his 40 time, that advantage is basically gone. And as we’ve seen time and time again, he’s too soft either mentally or physically (or both) to be a tough yardage lower-your-shoulder grinder.
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