Daily Archives: March 13, 2012
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The Steelers continued their off-season moves Monday, tendering six players, including wide receiver Mike Wallace.
Wallace, Keenan Lewis, Ryan Mundy, David Johnson, Doug Legursky and Ramon Foster were all tendered offers. The Steelers placed a first-round tender on Wallace, paying him $ 2.7 million in 2012.
If Wallace receives an offer from another NFL team the Steelers have the ability to match that offer. If they are unable or choose not to match that offer they will receive a first-round pick from the team that signs Wallace.
Tendering all six players means the Steelers “reserve the right” to keep the players by matching offers from other teams.
“All six players could also remain with the Steelers by signing their tender offer for 2012 or by signing a long-term contract with the team,” according to the team’s statement.
Legursky and Foster will make $ 1.26 million in 2012. If either or both sign with another team the Steelers will receive nothing in return, because both entered the league as undrafted free agents.
Lewis, Mundy and Johnson will receive $ 1.2 million in 2012. The Steelers will receive a third-round pick for Lewis, a sixth-round pick for Mundy and a seventh-round pick for Johnson should they sign with another NFL team.
Source: CBS Pittsburgh » Steelers
A person familiar with the situation says the Tennessee Titans will be visiting with four-time NFL MVP Peyton Manning in his search for a new team.
Source: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Now, a Bears castoff tight end allegedly will be stopping in Pittsburgh for a visit, along with trips being scheduled to Dallas and Cincinnati, according to Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio.
UPDATE: Pittsburgh Tribune Review writer Scott Brown tweeted “Steelers may have interest in TE Kellen Davis but I’m told a visit has yet to be scheduled.”
Kellen Davis played four years for the Bears after being picked up in the fifth round of the 2008 draft from Michigan State.
Used mostly as a blocker in Mike Martz’s offense, Davis played substantially more than Spaeth did in Chicago, and despite just 18 catches, he led the Bears’ anemic receiving corps with five touchdowns.
That’s three more touchdowns than a more well-known tight end named Kellen. Remember him?
At 6-foot-7, 262 pounds, his size seems like an advantage, but with the combination of former Bears TE Greg Olsen’s presence followed by Martz’s non-TE friendly offense, Davis simply may not have gotten a chance to showcase anything further than just in-line blocking.
Not that he’d necessarily get the chance in Pittsburgh, but a guy who catches a touchdown one out of every 3.6 catches is likely adept at catching passes inside the 10 yard line.
With a new offensive coordinator in place, perhaps any Steelers tight end may see the ball thrown their way in the red zone. It may be Davis.
Source: Behind the Steel Curtain
By: Tony Meale
NFL Free Agency has begun ( check out our Free Agency Tracker here ) and we’re taking a look at which players each team and division needs to pick up to improve in the 2012 season.
Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4)
The crusade for cap space continues in Pittsburgh, as the Steelers have released Hines Ward, James Farrior, Aaron Smith, Chris Kemoeatu and Arnaz Battle, among others.
Mike Wallace may be the next casualty – and if he is, he’ll likely remain in the AFC, which would be a crushing blow to the Steelers. Antonio Brown is a stud-in-the-making, but he can’t do it alone. Re-signing Wallace is pivotal to Pittsburgh’s 2012 hopes.
With Rashard Mendenhall’s availability in question for next season, the Steelers should be eying Trent Richardson and Lamar Miller, among others, come April.
Defensively, the Steelers could use help at linebacker. Alabama’s Dont’a Hightower would be an ideal candidate, as would Boston College standout Luke Kuechly. More depth in the secondary would also be good (hey, we all saw what happened when Ryan Clark was inactive against Denver).
The Steelers are the Steelers and will probably once again be the team to beat in the AFC by the time the playoffs roll around, but they enter the season with far more uncertainty than in years past – making Big Ben’s relationship with Todd Haley all the more important.
Baltimore Ravens (12-4)
Call me crazy, but if I’m a GM, and if I could have any running back in football on my team, I’m taking Ray Rice. Adrian Peterson has a bum knee, and Arian Foster is injury-prone. Rice is durable, he scored 15 touchdowns last year and he’s had 2,000+ total yards in two of the last three seasons.
In short, the Ravens were smart to franchise tag him, assuming Rice doesn’t hold out for more money.
Now, about that passing game. . .
Joe Flacco isn’t a top-five quarterback, but he’s a darn good one. He just needs some weapons. Last season, he had Ray Rice catching balls out of the back field, he had Torrey Smith running streaks 40 yards down field, and he had Anquan Boldin working the intermediate routes. Outside of that, he didn’t have much. Baltimore is a grind-it-out team, but even grind-it-out teams could use some explosive receivers. Michael Floyd and Alshon Jeffrey are two to target in April, while top free agents include Brandon Lloyd, Mario Manningham and Laurent Robinson.
Baltimore should also re-sign offensive guard Ben Grubbs and look for help at offensive tackle, particularly in Buffalo’s Demetrius Bell and the Giants’ Kareem McKenzie. Ohio State’s Mike Adams is another option.
As for the defense, yes, it’s another year older, but it’s still getting the job done. Besides, if the Ravens can put more points on the board via the passing game, a lights-out defense isn’t necessary, especially since the Ravens were one Lee Evans dropped pass away from the Super Bowl just two months ago.
Cincinnati Bengals (9-7)
Last year, Cincinnati was perhaps the most surprising team in the AFC, if not all of football. Picked to win three or four games by many pundits, the Bengals, with a rookie quarterback and a rookie wide receiver, won nine games and made the playoffs.
In fact, Andy Dalton became the first rookie quarterback in league history to throw for 20+ touchdowns and win at least eight games as a starter. He did have some growing pains against division stalwarts Pittsburgh and Baltimore – he went 0-4 with a 4:5 touchdown-to-interception ratio, as compared to 9-3 and 16:8 against everyone else – but the Bengals have reason to hope, especially with a pair of first-round picks in their back pocket.
After (foolishly) letting Johnathan Joseph walk after the 2010 season, the Bengals should look for a cornerback with pick 17 – either Dre Kirkpatrick or Janoris Jenkins. That said, if Trent Richardson is available, the Bengals will pounce, as Cedric Benson has been plodding each of the last two years. If Richardson is gone, the Bengals should consider Lamar Miller at pick 21.
Also, if the Steelers cannot re-sign Mike Wallace, Cincinnati must pursue him aggressively. That would give the Bengals an extremely talented core of position players – Dalton, Wallace, A.J. Green, Jordan Shipley and Jermaine Gresham – all 26 or younger.
Pittsburgh and Baltimore remain the class of the division, but Cincinnati has easily the brightest future.
Cleveland Browns (4-12)
The Browns, well, they need offense. Desperately.
Cleveland averaged just 13.6 points per game last year – only Kansas City and St. Louis averaged fewer – and scored 20+ points all of two times. If the Browns can trade up to draft Robert Griffin, they should. If they can’t, they should take Justin Blackmon, who is without question the top wideout available.
Cleveland could opt for cornerback Morris Claiborne instead, but why? Claiborne is a stud, but the Browns quietly had the second best pass defense in all of football last year. Pairing the LSU product with Joe Haden would be a nightmare for opposing quarterbacks, but an elite pass defense didn’t prevent Cleveland from losing its final six games last year. This team simply has too many holes on offense to not look for playmakers early and often come draft day.
Tony Meale is a freelance writer for MLB.com, cincinnati.com and ffjungle.com, among others. His fantasy football work has led to guest appearances on several radio outlets, including ESPN Radio and Sirius Radio. He has a Master’s in Journalism from Ohio University and has been recognized by the Society of Professional Journalists for outstanding work. A Cincinnati native, he is currently writing a book on one of the great sports stories never told. Follow Tony Meale on Twitter @tonymeale.
Source: CBS Pittsburgh » Steelers
Leading up to the 2012 NFL Draft current and former Steelers players and coaches will share their draft day memories. Featured in this segment is safety Ryan Mundy.
Source: Pittsburgh Steelers : Videos
The Steelers today tendered offers to star wide receiver Mike Wallace and five others.
Cornerback Keenan Lewis, safety Ryan Mundy, tight end David Johnson, offensive guard Doug Legursky and offensive guard Ramon Foster were tendered offers, too.
By tendering the offers, the Steelers reserve the right to retain the players by matching any offer sheets they would sign with another team. All six could remain with the Steelers by signing their tender offer for 2012 or by signing a long-term deal with the team.
Wallace made 72 catches for 1,193 yards last season.
Source: Steelers Gab
A crew assigned to cover the Super Bowl from one of NEP Broadcasting’s mobile TV production trucks measures the job in days, instead of hours.
Source: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Note: Those of you familiar with Momma’s Mock Drafts may wonder if this article is part of that series, but alas, this is actually a serious article. So if you came for the pictures, ladies, Mike Tomlin is all there is for today.
I wrote a series of articles last fall taking a look at the Steeler drafts from 2007 – 2009. I based my assessment on the talent identification part of the equation, whether it necessarily benefited the Steelers or not. In other words, Kraig Urbik was the second Steelers pick in the 2009 draft, although he was picked in the third round after the Steelers traded down. Given that he has turned into a serviceable guard, or better, I gave the Steelers’ scouting staff props for finding him, even though the Steelers themselves cut him and his guard services have only benefitted another franchise.
But with this assessment I will look at how well the Steelers have drafted in the Kevin Colbert era, considering only how well the picks have done for the Steelers. Since Colbert was hired at the beginning of the year in 2000 I decided it was fair to give him a year, since the 2000 draft picks may not have had his stamp on them quite yet. It’s too early to properly assess 2011—it’s actually probably too early to properly assess 2010 either, but it’s a convenient stopping point. So we will be looking at the drafts from 2001 – 2010.
The first question to consider is whether the Steelers actually do draft well, at least relatively speaking. The second question is whether there is a better way to draft, or whether it’s really a crap shoot no matter what you do. Because ultimately that’s the interesting question. If the Steelers are better than average at their draft choices, that would explain their continued success, even in a small market. But perhaps they aren’t actually better than average, but their policies and coaching after they draft players makes the difference. And if the latter is true, is it possible to also tweak their drafting process to make them even more successful?
So first let’s look at how well they draft overall. In their assessment of the previous decade, which conveniently enough is from 2001 – 2010, Cold Hard Football Facts gave the Steelers a B grade and placed them ninth among the 32 teams. Here’s what they had to say:
Pro Bowlers: 9 (t-4th)
Draftees Active in 2010: 35 (25th)
Players with 50+ Career AV: 3 (t-13th)
Players with 20+ Career AV: 18 (t-11th)
Best Pick: S Troy Polamalu (No. 16 overall, 2003)
Worst Pick: LB Alonzo Jackson (2nd round, 2006)
Summary: The Steelers had the best group of first-round picks in the decade, with two likely Hall of Famers (Ben Roethlisberger and Troy Polamalu) along with stars like Maurkice Pouncey, Santonio Holmes, Laurence Timmons, Rashard Mendenhall, Heath Miller and Casey Hampton. They were also one of the least successful in rounds three through seven, interesting since they have such a sharp eye for top talent.
This is really interesting. Let’s look at “the best group of first-round picks in the decade” and where they were picked:
#11 – Ben Roethlisberger
#15 – Lawrence Timmons
#16 – Troy Polamalu
#18 – Maurkice Pouncey
#19 – Casey Hampton
#23 – Rashard Mendenhall
#25 – Santonio Holmes
#30 – Heath Miller
#30 – Kendall Simmons
#32 – Ziggy Hood
Only three times during the decade were the Steelers drafting in the top half of the draft, and one of those was a trade up, to #16 for Troy Polamalu. What is the expected difference in players in the first and second half of the first round?
According to the Draft Value Chart, here are the values of those picks:
The supposed value of the #1 pick overall is 3000. This chart is unofficial and is for trade value, not an assessment of the value of a player taken in that spot. But even though it isn’t really meant to value the players themselves, you could argue there is a relationship to where a player is taken and how likely they are to succeed in the NFL. A higher likelihood of success obvious increases the value of the pick.
But apparently, according to this article in the Wall Street Journal, just being picked in the first round correlates with a high degree of success:
Of the 287 players drafted in round one over the past nine years, 85% are still playing, which is 20% better than the rate for second rounders. The average “one” plays for 9 years, which is nearly triple the league average. They make up 40% of the league’s team captains and they were 140% more likely to make the Pro Bowl in the last decade than players taken in round two.
This may be at least partially a function of how much patience a team is likely to have with a player in whom they have invested a great deal. First-round “busts” are notable for a reason—because they’re fairly unusual, especially in the upper part of the first round. And some of that is possibly attributable to the team that drafts them as much as to the player himself. A given player may ultimately not be a good fit for the system the team runs, or the coaching staff they employ. The team may just suck in at least some areas in their player development. Serious injuries are always a possibility as well.
But to return to the question of whether you can determine the likelihood of a player having a successful career depending on where they were drafted, Advanced NFL Statistics has an answer, or rather, a number of answers. They broke down the chances of a successful career by position, and here is a sample, taken from one of the articles about quarterbacks. (You can find the full articles, bristling with charts and graphs and other impressive things, here.)
There are large drop offs in performance from the 1st QB taken to the 2nd, and from the 2nd to the 3rd. Then from there until the 9th or 10th QB taken, it’s pretty random. It appears that if your team doesn’t get one of the first two QB picks, it might as well take a chance on a later pick. Chances fall off quickly after the first two QBs that a team will find a franchise player.
Ben Roethlisberger is an exception, since he was taken after Eli Manning and Phillip Rivers. And Roethlisberger is far and away the most successful QB who was not a #1 or #2 QB in their class during the 2001 – 2010 drafts, at least to this point.
During the 2001-2010 drafts 128 quarterbacks were drafted. Of those, 27 have been drafted in the first round. I’ve heard of all but three of them, or about 11%. All four of those players were drafted prior to 2005. Since I wasn’t even a football fan until partway through the 2009 season, this indicates as well as anything else these players have made a reasonable impact and/or had a reasonable lengthy career.
Conversely, of the remaining 101 QBs drafted in rounds 2 – 7, I had only heard of 22 of them, or just over 20%. Of those, here are the QBs with a significant number of starts, or, in the case of Matt Flynn, about to get a significant number of starts: (the number in parenthesis is where the player was taken in among all QBs in that year, the second the actual draft position, so Drew Brees was the 2nd QB taken in the draft, in round 2 at pick #32, which was in the 2nd round at the time)
Drew Brees (2) 2/32
Jimmy Clausen (3) 2/48
Chad Henne (4) 2/57
Tavaris Jackson (5) 2/64
Kevin Kolb (3) 2/36
Colt McCoy (4) 3/85
Matt Schaub (5) 3/90
Kyle Orton (7) 4/106
Curtis Painter (11) 6/201
Matt Cassel (12) 7/230
Ryan Fitzpatrick (13) 7/250
Matt Flynn (12) 7/209
So is there a decent amount of correlation between where a player is taken in the draft and how likely they are to succeed? The “value” of pick #224 is 2. The “value” of pick #1 is 3000. Baron Batch was taken by the Steelers in 2011 at #232, but for simplicity’s sake we’ll assume the value of #232 is still 2. Is Cam Newton, the 2011 #1 overall pick, 1500 times as likely to succeed in the NFL as Baron Batch? Is Andrew Luck (or Robert Griffin III, possibly) 1500 times as likely to succeed as whoever is picked last this year?
But that may not be a fair question. Perhaps it makes more sense to ask “Is Cam Newton, the first QB to be taken in the 2011 draft, (draft value 3000) 366 times more likely to succeed than Greg McElroy, the last QB to be taken in the 2011 draft? Because the draft value of pick #208, where McElroy was taken, is 8.2.
There were 14 QBs taken in the 2004 draft after Ben Roethlisberger. Of those 14, I’ve only heard of one of them, Matt Schaub. Their supposed draft values are 1250 (Ben) and 140 (Schaub.) Has Ben proven to be about nine times as valuable as Matt Schaub? Probably. After all, the Steelers have been to three Super Bowls since 2004 and won two of them. In the final assessment things may change. Ben may get injured in the pre-season and never play again, while the Texans surge into NFL dominance and pick up a couple of rings. But although Ben is almost certainly not nine times better a QB per se as Matt Schaub, the combination of him and the Steelers have gained a lot more than Schaub and the Falcons/Texans so far.
Although I focused on the quarterback position for this segment of the series, it seems appropriate to me, given all the hoopla over quarterbacks this year. The Steelers drafted three quarterbacks between 2001 and 2010, and got it right for the one that mattered the most. This, despite the fact they are the only team during these years to successfully pick up their franchise quarterback after the second quarterback in the draft was gone.
The Steelers have clearly done very well in the first round, despite the generally low spot they pick at. They moved up once, for Troy Polamalu. They spent their highest pick in the decade on a quarterback and got it right. They moved down once and got a Pro Bowl nose tackle. The majority of the time they were picking in the lower half of the round, and that does make a difference. The Wall Street Journal article shows you expect some reasonable level of success from any first-round pick, but the Cold Hard Football Facts folks still determined the Steelers to have drafted the most successfully in the first round of any team during the ten years in question.
Well, that’s enough for the moment. The next article will deal with Round 2. The Steelers don’t do nearly so well in Round 2, as I expect most of you know. We’ll look at the players they chose, why they went wrong, who they might have picked instead at the same position, and whether they ought to call up BTSC for suggestions : )
Source: Behind the Steel Curtain
PITTSBURGH (93-7 The Fan) – 93.7 The Fan, Steelers Insider, and Post-Gazette beat writer, Ed Bouchette, joined the Fan Morning Show on Tuesday to preview the 4 p.m. opening of NFL Free Agency.
Ed doesn’t expect another team to sign Mike Wallace away from the Steelers because they would not only be forfeiting a large contract, but they would also sacrifice a first round draft pick. Other teams who may have interest in Wallace may have seen some stock drop during an average second half of the season in 2011. Ed says those teams “have video tape of the same second half of the season that we saw.”
Ed says he doesn’t see the Steelers going after free agents this year, unless it is by trolling players that other teams wouldn’t want to fill depth. With that limited cap space, the Steelers will be left loose at tight end. The depth at that position is thin with the four-game suspension of Weslye Saunders.
In order to free up some cap space, the Steelers could potentially cut some players, but Ed does not think that will happen until after the draft.
For the entire interview, click below:
Source: CBS Pittsburgh » Steelers
When 35-year-old legendary WR Randy Moss worked out for New Orleans last week, the effusive praise escaping from that tryout wasn’t enough to convince die-hard skeptics Moss was for real.
Harbaugh threw passes in khaki pants and a sweatshirt to Moss, and apparently the NFL’s second-leading touchdown receiver did well enough to earn a one-year deal. And with that signing, the first significant bullet has been fired in this year’s free agency bonanza.
Moss, who was not under contract in 2011, thus making him eligible to sign with any team at any time, highlighted Free Agency Eve, a day that saw Houston surprisingly release veteran RT Eric Winston (likely to free money to help them sign DE Mario Williams, C Chris Meyers and RG Mike Brisiel), Oakland release TE Kevin Boss (signed just last season) and Arizona release LT Levi Brown.
Houston was going to have to make some kind of move to free up cash to help sign more of their free agents, Arizona is trying to put together a package to be able to land 2012 free agent prize QB Peyton Manning and Oakland is, well, Oakland.
Players released from their contracts in 2011 (Manning, for example) are free to sign with another team at any point, so in many ways, free agency is underway.
The additions of Winston and Brown make an intriguing scenario for free agency, which starts at 4 p.m. today for players who were under contract through 2011. The market for offensive linemen is pretty strong, and it likely could affect the draft, scheduled to begin April 26.
Winston is one of the better right tackles in the league and won’t likely fall from his previous salary. Brown, on the other hand, is a guy teams will view as a player with a lot of potential, although he hasn’t shown that on the field very often since the Cardinals selected him in the first round of the 2007 draft. Experienced left tackles do have value, though, and he won’t likely be out of work in 2012.
Manning, who’s playing Master of Puppets this week, is reportedly deciding between Arizona, Denver and Miami, with an alleged meeting with Tennessee head coach Mike Munchak scheduled for this week.
The trickle-down effect for the Manning chase could be intriguing. Titans owner Bud Adams has expressed his desire to bring the former AFC South foe Manning aboard, which could affect the Titans other pursuit, that of DE Mario Williams, another AFC South enemy. Manning is said to be taking his time in deciding where he’ll play in 2012, but Williams will likely move a bit faster.
Chicago is allegedly interested in Williams, which would give the Bears the most physically imposing pass rushes in the NFL, teaming up with DE Julius Peppers. Chicago would have the scratch to decimate the offensive lines of the rest of the NFC North – a division not known for its dominating offensive lines.
Chicago is said to be after WR Vincent Jackson as well, and they have the salary cap room to make both of them competitive offers. Adding those two players, along with keeping RB Matt Forte and getting QB Jay Cutler healthy, the Bears would be strong contenders in the AFC.
A typically quiet free agent player, Cincinnati has loads of cap space and with the young talent it’s already amassed, it could be poised to make a run at a few players as well. The likelihood of Wallace leaving Pittsburgh isn’t very great, but if it would happen, Cincinnati is as likely as destination as anywhere else. That cap space and the presence of two first-round picks, not to mention the impending suspension of free agent WR Jerome Simpson (was indicted for drug trafficking in January) give the Bengals both the means and the motive to make a run at him.
There are plenty of storylines, as is always the case with free agency. With or without cap space, the Steelers are typically sitting back and watching on Day 1, but with the events transpiring thus far, who knows what will happen?
Source: Behind the Steel Curtain