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fordfixer
02-10-2009, 01:35 AM
Steelers look to lock up left tackle

By Scott Brown, TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Tuesday, February 10, 2009

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsbu ... 10958.html (http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_610958.html)

The Steelers will likely make a push to retain either Max Starks or Marvel Smith prior to the start of the free-agent signing period at the end of the month.

Both are unrestricted free agents, as is Trai Essex. If the Steelers lose all three during free agency it will leave them without a left tackle who has any NFL game experience on their roster.

"Sometimes you can let a guy test the market when you have an alternative in the house," Steelers director of football operations Kevin Colbert said Monday. "But when your alternatives are free agents as well, that's a little unnerving. It makes you feel uneasy."

The Steelers are still formulating the plan they will take into free agency and the NFL draft. And Colbert said the team's offseason plans should be pretty much set before the NFL Scouting Combine, which starts a week from Wednesday.

The Steelers have yet to negotiate with any players on their roster, and none of their marquee players are up for free agency.

But in addition to Starks, Smith and Essex, starting left guard Chris Kemoeatu could hit the open market on Feb. 27 while starting right tackle Willie Colon will be a restricted free agent.

"If we could we wouldn't have that many coming into free agency at the same time," Colbert said of the offensive line, "but circumstances just dictated that's where it ended up this time."

Colbert said he would "like to be able to" sign at least one of the left tackles that are up for free agency.

Smith, 30, is the most experienced of the three but he has missed 19 games the last two seasons because of back problems.

Colbert said Smith has been rehabilitating and that "everything has checked out" healthwise.

Smith didn't play after the Steelers' Oct. 5 game in Jacksonville and the team put him on injured reserve in late December.

Ken Zuckerman, Smith's agent, said the ninth-year veteran is healthy again.

"If needed be, he could have played in the Super Bowl," Zuckerman said.

Essex has played sparingly in four NFL seasons and has just one career start at left tackle.

Starks would almost certainly draw the most interest of the three on the open market. The 6-8, 345-pounder has started at right and left tackle on Super Bowl-winning teams, and he only turned 27 last month.

The Steelers used the franchise tag on Starks last year it allowed them to match any offer made to him by another team and receive compensation if he signed elsewhere and they could do the same thing this year.

Starks made almost $6.9 million last season, and he would be guaranteed $8.45 million next season if the Steelers use the franchise tag on him, or $7.74 million if they designate him a transition player.

The Steelers figure to address the other side of the line as well in the offseason.

Their top five defensive lineman are all in their 30s and two of them nose tackle Casey Hampton and defensive end Brett Keisel are entering the final year of their contracts.

"You want to add some young talent, if you can, at any position," Colbert said, "but defensive line is probably one of the older positions on our team."

Notes: The Steelers have signed all of the players who finished the 2008 season on their practice squad to their roster. Included in that group is safety Ryan Mundy, a Woodland Hills High School graduate...The Steelers also signed former Canadian Football League running back Stefan Logan and are expected to give him a long look as a kick returner...The Steelers released defensive tackle Kyle Clement. The rookie had been on the reserve/injured list.

RuthlessBurgher
02-10-2009, 01:44 AM
The Steelers used the franchise tag on Starks last year it allowed them to match any offer made to him by another team and receive compensation if he signed elsewhere and they could do the same thing this year.

You would think that these guys could do a tiny bit of homework to find out that the Steelers used the transition tag on Starks last year (not the franchise tag) which allowed them to match any offer made to him by another team but they wouldn't have received diddly-poo in compensation if he signed elsewhere. :?

Chadman
02-10-2009, 02:53 AM
IF.....IF....Marvel's back is OK- is he the Steelers best option at LT?

Would you feel ok going with Marvel, Essex & Hills at LT next season?

Or if Marvel is signed, do you draft a LT all the same?

Or do you just sign Starks?

steeler_fan_in_t.o.
02-10-2009, 03:16 AM
IF.....IF....Marvel's back is OK- is he the Steelers best option at LT?

Would you feel ok going with Marvel, Essex & Hills at LT next season?

Or if Marvel is signed, do you draft a LT all the same?

Or do you just sign Starks?

Big Marvel booster here for many years Chadman, but I don't see how you can rely on him anymore. He cannot be your #1 option going into the season without a legit fallback. You also can't commit to him long term as he is now 30 with only one full season IIRC in the past 4. He would have to sign a one year deal at vet min plus a bonus based on games healthy for me to bring him back.

As for Starks, I think you have to sit down with the coaching staff and find out where everybody stands. They obviously were not in favor of him being here this year. He was refused the chance to compete with Willie Colon at RT despite his huge contract. Geez, how deep into the doghouse are you when that happens? Mahan was given a longer look at C than Starks was given at RT. Had it not been for the injury to Marvel, we'd still be talking about the huge waste of money signing a transition guy who can't even start on this awful line.

Mister Pittsburgh
02-10-2009, 08:48 AM
I know the Steelers like to build through the draft, and I am all for that. In this case though, it is too late for that. To build through the draft you have to have the ability for a young player to play behind someone for a season or two and make sure they are ready. Too late for that.

I don't want to sign Marvel OR Max just because they were Steelers this past season if there are better options out there. Our LT made 14 million dollars last season, for a starter and backup. I bet we could sign Trai Essex, who has done a nice job filling in when given a chance, to a very friendly deal. Say we could sign him to a 3 year deal at 2.5 per or something. That would leave around 11 million on the table to try and get the best LT out there without spending a dime more than we did this season on the position.

Oviedo
02-10-2009, 08:50 AM
IF.....IF....Marvel's back is OK- is he the Steelers best option at LT?

Would you feel ok going with Marvel, Essex & Hills at LT next season?

Or if Marvel is signed, do you draft a LT all the same?

Or do you just sign Starks?

I think you try to sign both of them. I think LT is Starks better position and Smith has proven to be a very good RT. If God is a Steelers fan you could have Starks at LT and a healthy Smith at RT next year. Better yet Hills is ready to play and you don't need to resign Smith. That would grreatly improve the line and allow us to focus on the interior of the line which was the weak point last year.

Let Kemo walk and move Colon to Kemo's position and draft an interior lineman in round 1 and I think you have fixed the OL.

SMASHMOUTHFOOTBALL
02-10-2009, 09:44 AM
every year we speak of moving Colon to G. Why are they so opposed to it?

WoodleyofTroy
02-10-2009, 01:45 PM
Colbert did say everything checked out with Marvel and is healthy again. Being that we won't have to compete with big offers out there due to him missing out on that chance, I'd take him back and still draft a 1st/2nd round Tackle.

Oviedo
02-10-2009, 03:13 PM
Colbert did say everything checked out with Marvel and is healthy again. Being that we won't have to compete with big offers out there due to him missing out on that chance, I'd take him back and still draft a 1st/2nd round Tackle.

We've heard that before. They won't say anything that would screw him in free agency.

My view: "Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me."

WoodleyofTroy
02-10-2009, 03:25 PM
Colbert did say everything checked out with Marvel and is healthy again. Being that we won't have to compete with big offers out there due to him missing out on that chance, I'd take him back and still draft a 1st/2nd round Tackle.

We've heard that before. They won't say anything that would screw him in free agency.

My view: "Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me."

If they want to re-sign him at a good price they would. Or at least not say anything at all.

Mel Blount's G
02-10-2009, 04:08 PM
Count another one here that has lost all faith that Marvel will ever be an effective starter again, IF he's ever even fit to play. If he does play, how long will his back hold out this time? A couple games? Half a year? His back's a mess I believe.

Sign Starks, and draft another tackle. I say this believing we won't go after any quality FA tackles. I think the coaching staff would rather be stuck overpaying for somebody who's weknesses they are fully cognizant of as opposed to taking the risk involved with paying and bringing in unknown baggage (maybe the Mahan debacle scared the FO away from oline FA signings more than we realize). Mind you I just can't figure Max out. He seems to have all the tools to be a decent tackle yet he seems completely unmotivated most of the time, even after getting top tackle money last year. He finished the season pretty solid but damn if it's gonna take him 10-12 games to get competitive...

As far as Colon, I hope the coaching staff knows something we don't as to why he couldn't play guard. He seems way to slow to effectively pass block as a tackle. And kemo...sill has a lot of work to do on his game. I had high hopes for him. I'm gonna put some of this on Zierleins because I feel kemo had/has a lot of raw talent that just hasn't been molded and refined

Mister Pittsburgh
02-10-2009, 04:26 PM
I agree MBG......sign Starks...and draft Unger from Oregon. He played OT and OC in his career there. He is currently the top ranked OC in the draft.

Lebsteel
02-10-2009, 04:50 PM
I agree MBG......sign Starks...and draft Unger from Oregon. He played OT and OC in his career there. He is currently the top ranked OC in the draft.

Unger may be the most versatile lineman in the draft, but from what I've read, Alex Mack is rated much higher as a center. Mack can also play guard at a high level. He had a great Senior Bowl, while Unger struggled.

RuthlessBurgher
02-10-2009, 04:52 PM
I agree MBG......sign Starks...and draft Unger from Oregon. He played OT and OC in his career there. He is currently the top ranked OC in the draft.

I would think that most scouts have Alex Mack as the top rated center. Unger seems like he would be a great guy to have on your team as a utility lineman because of his versatility, but will he ever be excellent once he settles into one spot? Mack seems to have all of the talent that Mangold had when he came out, plus Mack is an extremely bright guy (he majored in legal studies at Cal-Berkeley and won the Draddy Award as the nation's top scholar athlete).

Not to mention that Nickelodeon had a series about him when he was a pre-teen girl. :lol:

http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/images/n3/n15626.jpg

Mister Pittsburgh
02-10-2009, 05:09 PM
I agree MBG......sign Starks...and draft Unger from Oregon. He played OT and OC in his career there. He is currently the top ranked OC in the draft.

Unger may be the most versatile lineman in the draft, but from what I've read, Alex Mack is rated much higher as a center. Mack can also play guard at a high level. He had a great Senior Bowl, while Unger struggled.

This says the opposite....that Unger had a great Senior Bowl.

http://www.nfl.com/nflnetwork/story?id= ... nfirm=true (http://www.nfl.com/nflnetwork/story?id=09000d5d80dff358&template=with-video-with-comments&confirm=true)

Steelhere10
02-10-2009, 05:20 PM
the team would be a fool to sign Marvell to any thing more than the bare minimun. H#LL he should owe the team some money.

Mel Blount's G
02-10-2009, 05:36 PM
Okay but is it realistic to think either of these guys will be available at #32? If so, I say hells yeah with preference for Unger.

And wouldn't it be nice (if not totally unrealistic) if Tony Hills made an exponential leap in his development and was starter material this coming season?

Lebsteel
02-10-2009, 06:19 PM
[quote="Mister Pittsburgh":3vci7jgm]I agree MBG......sign Starks...and draft Unger from Oregon. He played OT and OC in his career there. He is currently the top ranked OC in the draft.

Unger may be the most versatile lineman in the draft, but from what I've read, Alex Mack is rated much higher as a center. Mack can also play guard at a high level. He had a great Senior Bowl, while Unger struggled.

This says the opposite....that Unger had a great Senior Bowl.

http://www.nfl.com/nflnetwork/story?id= ... nfirm=true (http://www.nfl.com/nflnetwork/story?id=09000d5d80dff358&template=with-video-with-comments&confirm=true)[/quote:3vci7jgm]

Thanks for pointing that out. I guess it depends on whose perspective it is coming from. Mack seems to be rated highest on most draft boards except Mayock's. NFLDraftCountdown has Mack as a first rounder and Unger as a second or third rounder. Here's a few good reads on both Mack and Unger:

http://www.nfldraftscout.com/ratings/dsprofile.php?pyid=56532&draftyear=2009&genpos=C


http://www.nfldraftscout.com/ratings/players.php?genpos=C&draftyear=2009&sortorder=tsxpos&order=ASC

http://www.draftcountdown.com/rankings/c.php

From WalterFootball.com
In the 1v1 battles going on at the North end zone, Ziggy Hood continued to dominate, but not if Kraig Urbik had anything to say about it. Urbik handled Hood's spin well and stood him up and displayed a nasty demeanor. B.J. Raji continues to impress, but Ron Brace looked really sluggish today in defensive line drills. He just lacks the agility and quickness to be a three technique and the more I see him, the more I feel like he is strictly a 3-4 nose tackle. Alex Mack pulled away in the center battle with Max Unger and he displayed a lot of strength and great technique. I really liked what I saw in Andy Levitre as he destroyed Alex Magee. Playing left tackle this year really helps his pass protection resume at guard and he is quickly becoming one of my favorite interior linemen since Duke Robinson dropped out this week.

Walter Football seemed to really like Phil Loadholt:
After drawing "awws" at the weigh-in due to his long arms and low fat build, Oklahoma tackle Phil Loadholt followed up with an impressive showing. On film I saw slow feet, but today he looked quicker in person. He devoured Donald Brown in one-on-ones, but we are talking about nearly a 100-pound weight differential. Brown had no chance.

Discipline of Steel
02-10-2009, 06:27 PM
Okay but is it realistic to think either of these guys will be available at #32? If so, I say hells yeah with preference for Unger.

And wouldn't it be nice (if not totally unrealistic) if Tony Hills made an exponential leap in his development and was starter material this coming season?

Truth be told, nobody knows exactly where Hills is at in his development. Steelers could think he is ready to start or he could still be struggling to pick up his blocking schemes. It would be a nice ace up the sleeve if he was ready to go.

Mister Pittsburgh
02-10-2009, 08:23 PM
Anyone know anything about Capizzi? Is he just a big body that can't play or does he have a shot to stick?