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fordfixer
09-09-2008, 12:59 AM
Steelers need to open up wallet for offensive linemen

By John Harris
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsbu ... 87169.html (http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_587169.html)

Let's hope the Steelers break from tradition and negotiate new contracts during the season for offensive linemen Marvel Smith and Chris Kemoeatu so they can finish their careers in Pittsburgh.

In particular, let's hope the Steelers brass learned a valuable lesson from Sunday's blowout victory against the Houston Texans regarding the importance of being able to line up one of the top left tackles in the NFL.

Smith -- all 6-foot-5, 321 pounds of him -- is a bad man. And that's meant in a good way.

First, let's clear up any concerns about Smith's offseason back surgery. His back is fine. If it wasn't, he wouldn't have been able to slug it out with Houston defensive end Mario Williams. Smith gave as good as he got against Williams, a big-time talent.

Contrast that with Houston rookie left tackle Duane Brown, who was hopelessly overmatched against outside linebacker James Harrison in his first NFL game.

That isn't to say Brown, who cost the Texans a first-round draft pick, won't develop into a fine player over time. What it means is that starting an inexperienced rookie at left tackle -- the most critical position on the offensive line -- can be an experiment in futility, with potentially painful results for the quarterback he is paid handsomely to protect.

So, what does Brown's plight have to do with the Steelers? Glad you asked.

Say, for example, the Steelers don't re-sign Smith, allowing him to become an unrestricted free agent after the season. Based on the fact that teams almost never allow their good left tackles to leave, Smith would be poised to sign the most lucrative contract for an offensive lineman in league history. The Steelers wouldn't be able to afford him.

The Steelers, instead, would be forced to draft a left tackle and throw him right into the mix, or re-sign Max Starks and start him at left tackle. That's right, the same Max Starks currently being paid nearly $7 million this season to sit behind starting Willie Colon at right tackle.

Option No. 3 would be Trai Essex, who will also be an unrestricted free agent after the season and doesn't really have the prototypical build to play left tackle on a full-time basis. Option No. 4 isn't really an option at all. Tony Hills, the Steelers' fourth-round draft pick, was inactive for the opener.

As for the current state of the Steelers offensive line, Colon cautioned everyone against throwing a parade after just one game.

On the other hand, imagine the negative fallout if Williams and Houston's defensive front had dominated the Steelers offensive line and made life miserable for quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and running back Willie Parker.

"We're not going to pat ourselves on the back and say we're the best. We've got a lot of work to do," Colon said. "We understand we've got to get better each and every time, but it's a step in the right direction."

If the Steelers don't want to imagine life without Smith, their best offensive lineman, they must reward his loyalty by paying for his talent.

John Harris is a sports writer for the Tribune-Review. He can be reached at jharris@tribweb.com or 412-481-5432.

steelblood
09-09-2008, 07:24 AM
That wallet should be fat enough next year to afford smith. Consider that Starks, Essex, and Mahan counted a combined figure of around 12 million against the cap. With all of them likely gone next year, we should be able to give Marvel and Chris raises.

Oviedo
09-09-2008, 07:33 AM
I have always thought that the Steelers self imposed moritorium on negotiating during the season was bad business. It takes away negotiation time when they have total control over the rights to the player. Waiting until the free agency period starts and the ridiculous inflated prices that bad teams with lots of cap space will throw at players is just plain stupid.

I would make a serious effort to sign both Smith and Kemo before the end of the season. If not I would consider franchising one and transition tagging the other to let us negotiate exclusively with them and buy one more year to get the replacements ready. Can you use both tags in the same year on different players?

Kemo should not be an issue because he is young and a long term contract makes sense. I understand that there may be some nervousness that we will get in a Jason Gildon situation with Marvel because of his age and injury history but there really isn't a better option ready to step in. We aren't going to pay FA prices for a replacement because FA is just plain stupid to get into those bidding wars and as low as we are likely to draft gain you aren't going to get a player who can step in and start.

phillyesq
09-09-2008, 08:10 AM
I have always thought that the Steelers self imposed moritorium on negotiating during the season was bad business. It takes away negotiation time when they have total control over the rights to the player. Waiting until the free agency period starts and the ridiculous inflated prices that bad teams with lots of cap space will throw at players is just plain stupid.

I would make a serious effort to sign both Smith and Kemo before the end of the season. If not I would consider franchising one and transition tagging the other to let us negotiate exclusively with them and buy one more year to get the replacements ready. Can you use both tags in the same year on different players?

Kemo should not be an issue because he is young and a long term contract makes sense. I understand that there may be some nervousness that we will get in a Jason Gildon situation with Marvel because of his age and injury history but there really isn't a better option ready to step in. We aren't going to pay FA prices for a replacement because FA is just plain stupid to get into those bidding wars and as low as we are likely to draft gain you aren't going to get a player who can step in and start.

As I understand it, you can only use on or the other, but I may be wrong.

After that game, the sentiment to resign both Smith and Kemo is very high. But I would wait until at least the midway point in the season before considering signing either. If Kemo, who has been up and down before, keeps playing the way he did in the opener, I would target him for a rare in-season signing. Give him a reasonable deal, something similar to Simmons, before he can become a free agent and break the bank.

With Smith, he is a good enough player at a premium position that I think the team can and should franchise him if they have to. He's not an elite offensive tackle, but when healthy, he is very solid. If he proves to be healthy, bringing him back year to year makes a lot of sense. If the Steelers would Transition Starks, I would think/hope that they would spend another $500k or so to Franchise Smith.

frankthetank1
09-09-2008, 08:31 AM
im not sold on smith yet. its only been one game, sure his back is fine now but lets see how he is late in the season. colon and kemo are absolute musts to re-sign. when healthy smith is very good, but i would like to see him have a full season of good health

SteelerNation1
09-09-2008, 08:41 AM
I have been saying it since Kemo started practicing in Latrobe and was (reportedly) killing people....they need to lock him up prior to the start of the saason. The scary thing is, he will have to take a sizeable paycut to stay in the Burgh. Someone is going to throw a ton of cash at him.

BigBen2112
09-09-2008, 09:03 AM
We also need to draft a ton of linemen on both sides of the ball.

But that's just me I guess :lol:

calmkiller
09-09-2008, 09:16 AM
Didn't Harris have an article like this last year about how we HAVE to pay Faneca as well? ....Yea, I don't think its completely necessary. But thats just me. Resign Kemo and Tag Smith. Draft a LT to groom under Smith. That what I see happening.

steelz09
09-09-2008, 09:21 AM
I wish we would have signed Kemo to an extension in the offseason.

Personally, I wouldn't sign Smith. He's playing for a contract and it showed last week. He's had injury problems, and he's on the wrong side of 30.

I am really hoping that Hills could step in next year at LT but he didn't receive much playing time at all in preseason with even the 2nd team O-Line. Instead, Starks (yuck) was seeing time at LT. When Hills played though, he did show some natural size and athleticism to play the position.

What I was HOPING for next year:

LT: Hills
LG: Kemo
C: Hartwig / Stapleton
RG: Colon / Rookie
RT: Colon / Rookie

phillyesq
09-09-2008, 09:26 AM
We also need to draft a ton of linemen on both sides of the ball.

But that's just me I guess :lol:

Benny, I agree with you. Last year, I would have been happy with spending all three first day picks on lineman (not that I'm complaining about Mendenhall and Sweed), and I really hope that there is a focus on adding a lineman on both sides of the ball on the first day this year as well.

calmkiller
09-09-2008, 09:47 AM
I wish we would have signed Kemo to an extension in the offseason.

Personally, I wouldn't sign Smith. He's playing for a contract and it showed last week. He's had injury problems, and he's on the wrong side of 30.

I am really hoping that Hills could step in next year at LT but he didn't receive much playing time at all in preseason with even the 2nd team O-Line. Instead, Starks (yuck) was seeing time at LT. When Hills played though, he did show some natural size and athleticism to play the position.

What I was HOPING for next year:

LT: Hills
LG: Kemo
C: Hartwig / Stapleton
RG: Colon / Rookie
RT: Colon / Rookie

Simmons will stay at right guard. Colon will not move.

papillon
09-09-2008, 10:06 AM
If Hills is our left tackle next year Ben's career may come to an end prematurely. You may not think that smith is an elite LT, but, his experience against the Mario Williams' of the world is worth a lot. If not for two mistakes in protections Ben wouldn't have been sacked at all this past weekend.

Marvel Smith won the battle with Williams, he was not physically or technically overmatched and had it not been for mistakes, Ben would have ended the game with a clean jersey. Hills would have cost us a franchise quarterback this past weekend.

The mistakes that gave up the sacks should go away as the offensive linemen get used to working with each other. This year's training camp prepared the offensive linemen for the season much better than last year's rotating door plan.

Pappy

Oviedo
09-09-2008, 10:13 AM
Didn't Harris have an article like this last year about how we HAVE to pay Faneca as well? ....Yea, I don't think its completely necessary. But thats just me. Resign Kemo and Tag Smith. Draft a LT to groom under Smith. That what I see happening.


Resign Kemo and Tag Smith.

That is probably the best course of action. I do agree with BB that we need to use some early picks on both sides of the line. I could see 3 of the first 4 going OL and DL. This is probably the year to get Casey's replacement and to get a Center ready to play in 2010. If it's me I go:

Rd 1: DL
Rd 2: OT
Rd 3: C

The other should probably be CB depending on McFadden. Don't forget we may get a Round 2 or 3 Comp Pick because we were smart to let Faneca go.

calmkiller
09-09-2008, 01:06 PM
Didn't Harris have an article like this last year about how we HAVE to pay Faneca as well? ....Yea, I don't think its completely necessary. But thats just me. Resign Kemo and Tag Smith. Draft a LT to groom under Smith. That what I see happening.


Resign Kemo and Tag Smith.

That is probably the best course of action. I do agree with BB that we need to use some early picks on both sides of the line. I could see 3 of the first 4 going OL and DL. This is probably the year to get Casey's replacement and to get a Center ready to play in 2010. If it's me I go:

Rd 1: DL
Rd 2: OT
Rd 3: C


The other should probably be CB depending on McFadden. Don't forget we may get a Round 2 or 3 Comp Pick because we were smart to let Faneca go.

This sounds good to me.

Also they only give out 3rd rounders for comp picks. 2nd rounders don't exist for comp picks. I think they only give out 4 in the 3rd round as well so its usually 97-100 overall pick.

ramblinjim
09-09-2008, 01:21 PM
We also need to draft a ton of linemen on both sides of the ball.

But that's just me I guess :lol:


Ahhh.................... :Agree

Shawn
09-09-2008, 02:13 PM
Ugh...tough position the Steelers are in. Smith played well. He looks better. Problem...he is not a young man, bad backs even with surgery tend to go bad again especially in the NFL, and he will want a ton of $$$. I believe Essex could be ready. Starks when motivated is an ok LT. I say the Steelers will break tradition and continue negotiations with Smith...but they won't break the bank on him. If he signs it will be a win win situation...giving him long term money...but with do-able cap hits.

While I agree that it would have been nice to grab a capable LT in this draft...I wouldn't have passed on Mendenhall for a overdrafted LT. Could we have passed on Sweed? Possibly...but in college when healthy was a game changer....top 10 talent with round 6 health. I'm not sure where we should go...the only thing I would caution...We can't throw top 5 LT money at Smith.

SteelHoss
09-09-2008, 02:30 PM
I believe that once again we will see a run on O lineman in the '09 draft. TBS, I feel the Steelers will find themselves in the same type of situation as the '08 draft...no top prospects available when it gets time for our 1st selection which will hopefully be at least somewhere in the twenties or much later. In '09 we won't have the luxury of selecting a BPA or skill position player (unless its a stud DB). We need to get the deals done at least with Smith toward mid-season (because of the ??? with his back) and Kemo and Colon asap. :2c

Shawn
09-09-2008, 02:33 PM
I believe that once again we will see a run on O lineman in the '09 draft. TBS, I feel the Steelers will find themselves in the same type of situation as the '08 draft...no top prospects available when it gets time for our 1st selection which will hopefully be at least somewhere in the twenties or much later. In '09 we won't have the luxury of selecting a BPA or skill position player (unless its a stud DB). We need to get the deals done at least with Smith toward mid-season (because of the ??? with his back) and Kemo and Colon asap. :2c

With McFadden and Ike why would we need a stud DB in round 1?

RuthlessBurgher
09-09-2008, 06:50 PM
I believe that once again we will see a run on O lineman in the '09 draft. TBS, I feel the Steelers will find themselves in the same type of situation as the '08 draft...no top prospects available when it gets time for our 1st selection which will hopefully be at least somewhere in the twenties or much later. In '09 we won't have the luxury of selecting a BPA or skill position player (unless its a stud DB). We need to get the deals done at least with Smith toward mid-season (because of the ??? with his back) and Kemo and Colon asap. :2c

Trading up really wasn't an option this year because we had only 6 picks and a lot of needs to fill. Next year, though, we will likely have 10 picks (our regular 7 plus perhaps 2 comp picks and the pick we got for Mahan). Although we can't trade the comp picks, '09 may be a year when we move up to get a guy we really like (i.e. Troy or Santonio).

SteelHoss
09-09-2008, 06:51 PM
I believe that once again we will see a run on O lineman in the '09 draft. TBS, I feel the Steelers will find themselves in the same type of situation as the '08 draft...no top prospects available when it gets time for our 1st selection which will hopefully be at least somewhere in the twenties or much later. In '09 we won't have the luxury of selecting a BPA or skill position player (unless its a stud DB). We need to get the deals done at least with Smith toward mid-season (because of the ??? with his back) and Kemo and Colon asap. :2c

With McFadden and Ike why would we need a stud DB in round 1?

I have always liked BMac and still do, but I believe he won't be around. All indications are he is looking for $$$$. If the Steelers go deep into the POs or a SB, Bryant will be gone. I also like UDFA, Roy Lewis. I think he has much potential...Travis Williams showed a little to although he was cut. I believe Coach T still wants that potential shut down corner ala Darrel Reavis. Reavis was at the pinnacle of Tomlins radar in '07 as I recall. Also keep in mind that DeShea, God Bless him, will have a longer tooth next year. :D :D
:tt1 :tt1 :tt1

BigBen2112
09-09-2008, 07:09 PM
Ugh...tough position the Steelers are in. Smith played well. He looks better. Problem...he is not a young man, bad backs even with surgery tend to go bad again especially in the NFL, and he will want a ton of $$$. I believe Essex could be ready. Starks when motivated is an ok LT. I say the Steelers will break tradition and continue negotiations with Smith...but they won't break the bank on him. If he signs it will be a win win situation...giving him long term money...but with do-able cap hits.

While I agree that it would have been nice to grab a capable LT in this draft...I wouldn't have passed on Mendenhall for a overdrafted LT. Could we have passed on Sweed? Possibly...but in college when healthy was a game changer....top 10 talent with round 6 health. I'm not sure where we should go...the only thing I would caution...We can't throw top 5 LT money at Smith.

I am really starting to wonder about you brother. Essex ready? The dude sucks...and has showed ZERO during his time here. I dont know what you're basing that assumption on, but I dont think he's even close to serviceable right now.

Instead of Davis+Hills+6th rounders we could have procured a serviceable OL or two.

This year we MUST get at least 4 OL/DL at minimum. It should be a LITTLE easier since I think we should have a couple extra comp. picks.

Shawn
09-09-2008, 07:12 PM
Ugh...tough position the Steelers are in. Smith played well. He looks better. Problem...he is not a young man, bad backs even with surgery tend to go bad again especially in the NFL, and he will want a ton of $$$. I believe Essex could be ready. Starks when motivated is an ok LT. I say the Steelers will break tradition and continue negotiations with Smith...but they won't break the bank on him. If he signs it will be a win win situation...giving him long term money...but with do-able cap hits.

While I agree that it would have been nice to grab a capable LT in this draft...I wouldn't have passed on Mendenhall for a overdrafted LT. Could we have passed on Sweed? Possibly...but in college when healthy was a game changer....top 10 talent with round 6 health. I'm not sure where we should go...the only thing I would caution...We can't throw top 5 LT money at Smith.

I am really starting to wonder about you brother. Essex ready? The dude sucks...and has showed ZERO during his time here. I dont know what you're basing that assumption on, but I dont think he's even close to serviceable right now.

Instead of Davis+Hills+6th rounders we could have procured a serviceable OL or two.

This year we MUST get at least 4 OL/DL at minimum. It should be a LITTLE easier since I think we should have a couple extra comp. picks.

The coaching staff doesn't agree with you. Essex had a blockbuster camp. Belief is...he finally "gets it". We shall see I suppose.

Shawn
09-09-2008, 07:14 PM
I believe that once again we will see a run on O lineman in the '09 draft. TBS, I feel the Steelers will find themselves in the same type of situation as the '08 draft...no top prospects available when it gets time for our 1st selection which will hopefully be at least somewhere in the twenties or much later. In '09 we won't have the luxury of selecting a BPA or skill position player (unless its a stud DB). We need to get the deals done at least with Smith toward mid-season (because of the ??? with his back) and Kemo and Colon asap. :2c

With McFadden and Ike why would we need a stud DB in round 1?

I have always liked BMac and still do, but I believe he won't be around. All indications are he is looking for $$$$. If the Steelers go deep into the POs or a SB, Bryant will be gone. I also like UDFA, Roy Lewis. I think he has much potential...Travis Williams showed a little to although he was cut. I believe Coach T still wants that potential shut down corner ala Darrel Reavis. Reavis was at the pinnacle of Tomlins radar in '07 as I recall. Also keep in mind that DeShea, God Bless him, will have a longer tooth next year. :D :D
:tt1 :tt1 :tt1

There is a reason he isn't playing above Townsend. It's not because of talent either. They are trying to squeeze out one more starting year from Townsend all while keeping BMacs price reasonable. He will sign a mid tier DB salary this offseason. No way we let him leave.

BigBen2112
09-09-2008, 07:18 PM
Ugh...tough position the Steelers are in. Smith played well. He looks better. Problem...he is not a young man, bad backs even with surgery tend to go bad again especially in the NFL, and he will want a ton of $$$. I believe Essex could be ready. Starks when motivated is an ok LT. I say the Steelers will break tradition and continue negotiations with Smith...but they won't break the bank on him. If he signs it will be a win win situation...giving him long term money...but with do-able cap hits.

While I agree that it would have been nice to grab a capable LT in this draft...I wouldn't have passed on Mendenhall for a overdrafted LT. Could we have passed on Sweed? Possibly...but in college when healthy was a game changer....top 10 talent with round 6 health. I'm not sure where we should go...the only thing I would caution...We can't throw top 5 LT money at Smith.

I am really starting to wonder about you brother. Essex ready? The dude sucks...and has showed ZERO during his time here. I dont know what you're basing that assumption on, but I dont think he's even close to serviceable right now.

Instead of Davis+Hills+6th rounders we could have procured a serviceable OL or two.

This year we MUST get at least 4 OL/DL at minimum. It should be a LITTLE easier since I think we should have a couple extra comp. picks.

The coaching staff doesn't agree with you. Essex had a blockbuster camp. Belief is...he finally "gets it". We shall see I suppose.

Wait, the coaching staff doesn't agree with me? He's not good enough to knock Colon out at RT, but somehow he's going to better than Smith--who is 100% better than Colon at tackle--at the LT position?

That doesn't align for me for some reason.

Shawn
09-09-2008, 07:22 PM
Ugh...tough position the Steelers are in. Smith played well. He looks better. Problem...he is not a young man, bad backs even with surgery tend to go bad again especially in the NFL, and he will want a ton of $$$. I believe Essex could be ready. Starks when motivated is an ok LT. I say the Steelers will break tradition and continue negotiations with Smith...but they won't break the bank on him. If he signs it will be a win win situation...giving him long term money...but with do-able cap hits.

While I agree that it would have been nice to grab a capable LT in this draft...I wouldn't have passed on Mendenhall for a overdrafted LT. Could we have passed on Sweed? Possibly...but in college when healthy was a game changer....top 10 talent with round 6 health. I'm not sure where we should go...the only thing I would caution...We can't throw top 5 LT money at Smith.

I am really starting to wonder about you brother. Essex ready? The dude sucks...and has showed ZERO during his time here. I dont know what you're basing that assumption on, but I dont think he's even close to serviceable right now.

Instead of Davis+Hills+6th rounders we could have procured a serviceable OL or two.

This year we MUST get at least 4 OL/DL at minimum. It should be a LITTLE easier since I think we should have a couple extra comp. picks.

The coaching staff doesn't agree with you. Essex had a blockbuster camp. Belief is...he finally "gets it". We shall see I suppose.

Wait, the coaching staff doesn't agree with me? He's not good enough to knock Colon out at RT, but somehow he's going to better than Smith--who is 100% better than Colon at tackle--at the LT position?

That doesn't align for me for some reason.

Don't shoot the messanger...just reporting what I read.

BigBen2112
09-09-2008, 07:27 PM
Ugh...tough position the Steelers are in. Smith played well. He looks better. Problem...he is not a young man, bad backs even with surgery tend to go bad again especially in the NFL, and he will want a ton of $$$. I believe Essex could be ready. Starks when motivated is an ok LT. I say the Steelers will break tradition and continue negotiations with Smith...but they won't break the bank on him. If he signs it will be a win win situation...giving him long term money...but with do-able cap hits.

While I agree that it would have been nice to grab a capable LT in this draft...I wouldn't have passed on Mendenhall for a overdrafted LT. Could we have passed on Sweed? Possibly...but in college when healthy was a game changer....top 10 talent with round 6 health. I'm not sure where we should go...the only thing I would caution...We can't throw top 5 LT money at Smith.

I am really starting to wonder about you brother. Essex ready? The dude sucks...and has showed ZERO during his time here. I dont know what you're basing that assumption on, but I dont think he's even close to serviceable right now.

Instead of Davis+Hills+6th rounders we could have procured a serviceable OL or two.

This year we MUST get at least 4 OL/DL at minimum. It should be a LITTLE easier since I think we should have a couple extra comp. picks.

The coaching staff doesn't agree with you. Essex had a blockbuster camp. Belief is...he finally "gets it". We shall see I suppose.

Wait, the coaching staff doesn't agree with me? He's not good enough to knock Colon out at RT, but somehow he's going to better than Smith--who is 100% better than Colon at tackle--at the LT position?

That doesn't align for me for some reason.

Don't shoot the messanger...just reporting what I read.

I thought you read x-rays?