Ah, college graduation. That rite of passage when one chapter of your life closes and another begins. Of course, I graduated in my early twenties… Read More »Big Ben Graduates While Steelers Hold Freshman Orientation
The Post-Gazette is calling it the March Massacre. Being a rabid fan of the television series “Lost,” I prefer to refer to it as the Purge. In a span of three days, the Pittsburgh Steelers cut four veterans who combined had logged over forty seasons in the Black & Gold. Going back a little less than a month, the Steelers cut a total of six players, five of whom at one time or another had been mainstays in the starting line-up.
The latest veteran to get the axe is in some ways the most significant. Linebacker James Farrior was rumored to be on the chopping block since his age (37) and salary ($3.25 million) didn’t appear to fit with the team’s current youth movement. Still, Potsie’s exit comes as a mild surprise because even though his play had obviously declined, he remained a key member of the defense. Farrior’s helmet bore the Mr. Yuck sticker signifying that he alone was Dick LeBeau‘s on-field game general. Of the six players released during the Purge, Farrior is the only one who was still a regular starter at the end of 2011.
Read More »Where Do Steelers Go From Here?
Only one week ago, the Pittsburgh Steelers announced they had renegotiated Ben Roethlisberger‘s contract in order to lower their cap hit by $8 million. That money, in addition to what was saved in several other reworked deals, put the Steelers in line with 2012’s projected salary cap. Many members of Steeler Nation thought the team would sit back, take a breather and spend some time figuring how they wanted to configure their roster for the upcoming campaign. Well, as the old fish story goes, just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water…
Instead of relaxing, the Steelers have embarked on an unprecedented roster overhaul which has seen them ruthlessly cut ties with several veteran mainstays over the past 48 hours. All day yesterday, Pittsburgh talk radio was dominated by news of Hines Ward’s release. Some people were angry and a few were even happy but most were genuinely sad to see a legendary career end. Before the day was out, word had spread that two more players were set to join Hines as ex-Steelers. Although neither name was much of a surprise.
Aaron Smith has finally run out of time. The Steelers held a roster spot open for him in 2010, hoping he’d pull a Woodson and return from major injury in time to play in the Super Bowl but it wasn’t to be. They did bring him back last season despite injury concerns and having two first round draft picks eager to take the field. About a month ago, Smith attended the retirement press conference for fellow defensive lineman Chris Hoke and was asked about his plans for this season. He clearly indicated a desire to suit up for one last go-round despite playing only a handful of games in each of the previous three seasons. It’s hard to find fault with the Steelers’ handling of the situation as they obviously hoped he’d retire gracefully rather than force their hand. When Smith suffered his latest season-ending injury shortly into the 2011 campaign, it seemed his career was over. Since we now know that Smith will only leave the game kicking and screaming, the Steelers really had no choice but to cut him.
Read More »Steelers Cut Two More, Smith & Kemo Gone
While four teams still remain in the NFL playoffs, the rest of the league is turning their attention toward next season. In yesterday’s Post-Gazette, team president Art Rooney mentioned that the Pittsburgh Steelers will be facing “tough decisions” this off-season. Translation: We brought back the old slow veterans for one more go ’round the track but since they failed, it’s off to the glue factory for some of them.
Peter King, of all people, pointed out the Steelers future salary cap woes before the season began and it bears examining now that we’re faced with the consequences. Next year’s cap is projected to be in the neighborhood of $125 million, which the current roster currently exceeds by somewhere between $20-25 million. That’s money already committed, to say nothing about money needed to sign draft picks, re-sign Mike Wallace, Issac Redman and other pending free agents, and perhaps *gasp* even spending a buck or two on the FA market to bring a decent lineman in here so our franchise QB doesn’t get broken in two halfway through the season.
Steeler Nation has been somewhat spoiled by management that’s stayed one step ahead of the game when dealing with the salary cap. The team has been clever about restructuring deals and/or adding bonus money or years in order to lower the cap hit. Problem is, adding years to guys already pushing their mid-30s is completely idiotic. And if Indianapolis is seriously considering cutting Peyton Manning, the man who made their sad little franchise relevant, in order to avoid paying him a roster bonus (and the accompanying cap hit), there’s nobody on the Steelers who should be untouchable.
Read More »Say Good-Bye To Veteran Steelers
I’ve written a lot this season about the decline of Pittsburgh Steelers all-time great Hines Ward. It was never my intent to turn this into a Hines Hater blog but the combination of his being one of the faces of the current era of Black and Gold greatness and the fact the national media was totally out of the loop in regards to his rapidly diminishing importance, I felt like I had to keep harping on it. Also, despite Hines’ insistence that the feels he’s “owed nothing” by the team, I have a feeling the eventual break-up is going to be a painful one. And Steeler Nation should be prepared for an ugly fall-out.
While I’ve been focusing on Hines, however, I’ve neglected the other side of the ball.
A couple things happened during Sunday’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs which really hit home to me that Hines may not be the only Steeler mainstay facing his last stand. First, the Chiefs offense had a fleeting moment of competence in the second quarter when Tyler Palko stared down a blitzing linebacker and converted a big third down. “Stared down” is a bit of an overstatement as James Farrior was sent up the middle on a fire blitz and while nothing but the faint scent of failure stood between him and Palko, the ball was delivered before James had crossed the line of scrimmage. Then, late in the game, with the Chiefs moving the ball on an exhausted Steeler defense, the cameras repeatedly cut to a shot of Casey Hampton sucking wind on the sideline.
Read More »Steelers Defense Not Immune To Youth Movement