Tag:Free Agency
Posted on: March 11, 2009 6:25 am

Quiet in the Land of Steel - Kind of, Sort of

There’s a reason the Cardinals have the nickname “Steelers West”.  Okay, not only is Whisenhunt taking the mentality he had as the Steelers OC (not to mention some of the former Steeler coaching staff) but he also has been slowly acquiring former Steeler players, most recently, cornerback Bryant McFadden.  It was no secret that Whisenhunt is looking at reshaping the Cardinals defense into a 3-4 defense and it was also no secret that he wanted McFadden, and he got them.

Of course, in the land of the black and gold, the city of Steel, the original Steelers, we’re watching them leave.  Well, not really.  Only two major losses through free agency.  Wide receiver Nate Washington and cornerback Bryant McFadden.  Can’t blame them for taking the money, both have two superbowl rings.  But for the most part, while other teams were trying to bring in players to help their chances, the Steelers were trying to shore up the contracts of the one’s they currently have.  

There were some quiet acquisitions, mostly to the practice squad.  Of course, with Washington’s leaving, it now opens up the opportunity for Dallas Baker to contend for the 3d receiver slot.  

Now with the majority of contracts being laid out and at least in negotiation stage, there is some movement inside the Steelers camp.  No, not signings, but at least interviews.  This week the Steelers will have interviewed former Buccaneers Wide Receiver Joey Galloway and Titans FA cornerback Chris Carr.  Of course the interesting of the two is Chris Carr.  

Two glaring and immediate needs for the Steelers lay with the offensive line and the return for Special Teams.  The acquisition of Chris Carr could become a viable weapon when it comes to punt and kick returns.  Of course, there is the added benefit of adding depth to the position at cornerback.   

Last season, special teams had improved immensely in it’s kickoff and punt return coverage, but was still glaringly weak when it came to actually returning the ball.  It was inconsistent at best and at worse, well, being ranked 29th  in the league for punt and kickoff returns kind of explains it all.  Should the Steelers acquire Carr, then this could possibly address the need in this area.

Of course, don’t look for the Steelers to use FA to build on their strengths, but more to address their immediate weaknesses.  The acquisition in FA last preseason of running back Mewelde Moore was to address a need that was glaringly apparent when Willie Parker went out for the season with a broken ankle in the St. Louis Rams game.  Moore proved to be invaluable in this past season when he became the starting running back when both Parker and rookie draft choice, Rashaad Mendenhall went out with injuries.  

Despite, the interview process, no matter how many come through the gates to talk to Steelers management, those of us who have followed the black and gold know that, as with every FA period, this one will be another without excitement or major splash. Is it time for the draft yet?


Posted on: February 28, 2009 4:19 am

And They're Off

James Harrison wants to retire a Pittsburgh Steeler.  Steelers guard Chris Kemoeatu could have been a Jet but decided to stay where he was at.  Whispers and rumors that Colts center Jeff Saturday was willing to switch to position at guard to play for the black and gold all were naught when he resigned for three years to remain Peyton Mannings MVP.  Byron Leftwich said not to count him out as the Steelers backup quarterback, then there’s also Charlie Batch.  So what about Dennis Dixon?   

This past week, free agency began in earnest and Steelers personnel management, like the other 31 teams have been busy adjusting their roster and making offers.  Faced with having thirteen players as unrestricted free agents, including two viable backup quarterbacks, Kevin Colbert and the rest of the Steelers front office are working to retain as many of the Steelers current players as possible.  Of course, it’s probably not going to be feasible.

One of the top priorities, according to Colbert, is getting the NFL’s DPOY’s contract extended so that he can finish his career as a Pittsburgh Steeler.  It will happen, it’s just symantics.  Biggest problem is the terms, especially due to the situation with the CBA and the “uncapped year”.  

Of course we’ve seen the Steelers place a franchise tag on OT Max Starks, again.  There was a tender to restricted free agent Willie Colon.  One wonders if the idea was to actually keep Colon, or use that tender in lieu for a first round draft pick, something that the Steelers could use, seeing that they’re 32nd in the draft this year.  Chris Kemoeatu could have taken the same route, the exact same route, that former Steelers guard Alan Faneca took and become a player for the J.E.T.S. but he declined the offer and decided to stay with the black and gold.  Okay, the Steelers did offer him good money, but the Jets did offer Kemo a little more.  Fullback/tight end Sean McHugh will be staying.  McHugh actually made a difference in the Steelers running game when they put him in at the FB position, rather then the TE position.  

What was surprising is the release of OT Kendell Simmons.  Simmons went out for the year in the first Ravens/Steelers game with a torn Achilles tendon.  What’s not surprising, they probably will not be resigning punter Mitch Berger.  Okay, so Berger wasn’t the best, but I believe the reality is that punter Daniel Sepulveda will more then likely be returning after sitting the season out with a torn ACL.  

There’s still a lot of time left in the off-season for contracts to be signed and players cut.  WR Nate Washington will probably end up being a starting WR somewhere else and CB Bryant McFadden is testing his value on the open market and it is doubtful that he’ll return.   Restricted free-agent SS Anthony Smith did not receive a contract tender and it’s questionable if Marvel Smith will return.  

Of course we’re all wondering just who will be the Steelers backup quarterback with both Batch and Leftwich in the FA market.  Makes it even more interesting that Leftwich hinted that he might prefer being a backup in Pittsburgh to a starting QB somewhere else.



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