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fordfixer
02-14-2009, 12:49 AM
Steelers stuck with Smith? It could happen

February 12, 5:08 PM
by Matt Pawlikowski, Pittsburgh Sports Examiner

http://www.examiner.com/x-2703-Pittsbur ... uld-happen (http://www.examiner.com/x-2703-Pittsburgh-Sports-Examiner~y2009m2d12-Steelers-stuck-with-Smith-It-could-happen)


PITTSBURGH - The free-agency period looms right around the corner, and even though they are the Super Bowl Champs, don't expect the roster to remain the same.

Unlike the Steel Curtain Dynasty days where the faces constantly remained the same, just one look at what occurred after Super Bowl XL should be a good measuring stick of what could happen.

It didn't matter they were World Champs, because the Steelers still lost three key players to the new 'dollars talk philosophy' of today's ballplayer - safety Chris Hope, wide receiver Antwaan Randle El, defensive end Kimo von Oelhoffen.

On Feb. 27, the Steelers have 13 players who can be unrestricted free agents. Already the team has said it wants to make a pitch to sign cornerback Bryant McFadden. They have discussed possible contract extension offers, but now the most pressing issue is the left side of the line. Marvel Smith ( eft) with former Steeler Alan Faneca

“We haven’t made any definite offers or decisions on any of our guys at this point,” Steelers Director of Football Operations Kevin Colbert said. “But it’s safe to say that we will try to keep as many of our own guys as possible, fully understanding that it may not be possible. We may have to go outside, either through free agency or through the draft, to replace some guys we potentially could lose.”

So why the left side? For starters, left guard Chris Kemoeatu who replaced All-Pro Alan Faneca is a unrestricted free agent. And then there is the fact both Marvel Smith and Max Starks could also hit the open market.

According to Scott Brown of the Tribune Review, Smith would be the most logical option to sign for this reason alone; He is 31 and has the most experince, but also added the injury factore considering Smith has missed 29 games since 2003.

Unreliable might be an understatement to describe him.


Starks would be the better choice, but is sure to be coveted around the NFL and could attract the big dollars since he plays at a position that is in high demand. While he allowed just four sacks in the ten games he played, there is the question as to whether or not the Steelers would want to overpay for him.

There is another option if they feel the necessity when it comes to Starks; putting the franchise tag on him.

But , can you imagine an angry Starks? It could prove to be a major distraction. This would be a last resort in my opinion for the team since a player who is under duress, usually is a cancer in the lockers. The Steelers say they are family, but contract squabbles can become major distractions.

Last year to keep Starks, they put the transition tag on him, and many scoffed at the idea, but without him this year No. 6 may have been much tougher to come by.

Which brings us back to Mr. Smith. Avoiding Starks should he delve into the open market may leave the team with little options, but again, this would be a huge mistake. Don't tell me the continuity thing either. Again, Smith has a history of injuries, and is 31.

I've been asked over and over about Trai Essex. Well guess what? He is a UFA also, making it not out of possibility that the team could be without a veteran left tackle meaning they would have to address it in the draft, something tough with the 32nd pick.

Essex is a good backup, but only has one career start.

So here is a name to think about, Vernon Carey. Who you ask? Probably one of the top tackles on the market, the Miami Dolphin UFA could be out of the Steeler price range. But Carey wants to play for a winner and can play both left and right tackle. The Steelers do have money under the cap so keep his name in mind, especially if they decide not to go for Starks and Smith.

"It goes all the way back to the Chief setting the standards and how this organization was formed and that continuity has always been there," said Colbert. " The stability in the organization from the Rooney's everyone understands the message. The standard has been set, you are expected to contend for a championship."

WoodleyofTroy
02-14-2009, 07:04 AM
I don't see having Smith back (no pun intended) being a problem, if and only if the Steelers bring in his replacement at the same time. Just like Starks (maybe he's the guy or a top draft pick) was backing Smith up, I think Smith should now be the guy that endures the backup role, most importantly keeping him healthy during the crucial parts of the year.

This of course is all now possible due to him not being able to cash in on his contract season and obvious super bowl year. Steelers should take advantage and have lucked out in my opinion.

Just like every one was down on Ryan Clark last year screaming for Euguene Wilson as a replacement, I think Marvel Smith turns out to be the same.

Chadman
02-14-2009, 09:00 AM
Just something to keep in mind for those watching the LT situation with interest...

IF- the Steelers re-sign Max Starks, it will either be A)- Overpaid with the Franchise Tag, or B)- Long term, say 4-6 years, basically guarenteeing his position at LT for that time frame. This will, essentially, take a rookie LT out of the draft equation because, let's face it, if Starks is signed for that amount of time, he's the starter.

IF- the Steelers re-sign Marvel Smith, you sign a proven vet that will be 31, and a proven starter, with back problems. Signing Smith will LIKELY mean the Steelers will DRAFT a LT simply because of Smith's back problems- as insurance. Chances are, Smith's re-signing will be modest, due to injury, and also short term for the same reason. And to top it off, not that Chadman would wish this on anyone, but if Smith gets hurt, it basically fast-forward's the rookie LT's playing time, much like what happened with Ben.

Now, Chadman has been a big defender of Max Starks on here, but the way this draft is shaking out, the Steelers SHOULD be able to grab a decent OT option in the first 3 rounds. Having Smith for a year or two would allow the Steelers to bring the rookie along & have him step in when he's ready, or Smith goes down again & the rookie starts playing (who on here doesn't like seeing Rookies play?)

Re-signing Smith is starting to look smarter to Chadman all the time...

WoodleyofTroy
02-14-2009, 09:25 AM
Re-signing Smith is starting to look smarter to Chadman all the time...

And if Smith stays healthy this year, he's easily the #2 behind Jordan Gross, in which we wouldn't even have a chance.

We can get him cheap, bring in his replacement at the same time, and try to keep him healthy for the latter part of the season.

I guarantee this will be one of those moves everyone looks back on, like everyone complaining about giving Farrior that extension when it was unexpected.

Mister Pittsburgh
02-14-2009, 11:03 AM
Sign Marvel who should come fairly cheap. What would it take to sign Carey in FA?

Option 1:
LT-Marvel
LG-Colon
C-Hartwig
RG-Stapleton or Draft Pick
RT-Carey, Hills, or Draft Pick

Option 2:
LT-Carey
LG-Colon or Draft Pick
C-Hartwig
RG-Stapleton or Draft Pick
RT-Colon, Hills, or Draft Pick

Steeler Shades
02-14-2009, 11:16 AM
According to Scott Brown of the Tribune Review, Smith would be the most logical option to sign for this reason alone; He is 31 and has the most experince, but also added the injury factore considering Smith has missed 29 games since 2003.

Unreliable might be an understatement to describe him.


Starks would be the better choice, but is sure to be coveted around the NFL and could attract the big dollars since he plays at a position that is in high demand. While he allowed just four sacks in the ten games he played, there is the question as to whether or not the Steelers would want to overpay for him.
If we can't sign Starks we should just let Smith go anyways. No sense in keeping him and pretending that it was a good football decision instead of a good financial decision. 8)

JUST-PLAIN-NASTY
02-14-2009, 11:32 AM
My first choice would be to sign Starks if he would be at or around his tag number last year. Draft Mack in the 1st and maybe Loadholt in the 2nd. If Starks is looking for 7.5-8.5 mil I would let him walk. Bring in Carey and sign Essex. Still draft Mack in the 1st & Loadholt in the 2nd. If they miss out on Starks & Carey I would sign Smith on a 2 year deal in the 1-2 mil range...If he takes it. Incentives to 5 mil if he starts 16 games. Target Beatty in the 1st for the future. Then maybe Unger or Urbick in the 2nd. I would hope the Steelers wouldn't leave the state of the franchise on Smith's back... :shock:...But instead make sure Starks or Carey is here before the draft. This is a deep draft at OL for the Steelers at the end of the 1st & 2nd rounds to secure 2 starters (If needed) on opening day on the interior or RT spot. It would be a shame to throw that opportunity away by pushing the panic button for a LT!!!

RuthlessBurgher
02-14-2009, 12:07 PM
Just like every one was down on Ryan Clark last year screaming for Euguene Wilson as a replacement.

If I recall correctly, I don't think anyone was screaming that Wilson would be a desirable replacement for Clark. People were understandably worried that Clark might not be the same player after losing his spleen and all that weight, so folks were suggesting that Wilson might be a better option than Anthony Smith or Tyrone Carter, if Clark could not go. The comparison was between Wilson and Clark's backups, not Wilson and Clark himself. I think everyone understood that a healthy Clark would be the man, but the Wilson debate occurred when Clark was not yet healthy.

pfelix73
02-14-2009, 12:27 PM
This is somewhat old news. Ed Buchette reported in January that they will probably bring back Smith for at least 1 year. Steelers said they know all there is to know about his back and believe those problems are 'behind' him.

Personally, I'd like to see Starks at LT next year, but I don't think it will happen. He sounded like he wanted to test free agency during that media day at SB43.

It would be nice to get some of the OL taken care of before the draft so they could concentrate on the DL or even secondary in the 1st round or 2. An eventual replacement for Hampton or Keisel might be a good idea in the draft. Both of these guys' contracts are up in a year..... I think there will be some 1st rate big time talent still there at #32. Someone's gonna fall down. IMO.

steelz09
02-14-2009, 12:36 PM
I wouldn't be against a 1 year deal but I don't know if Smith will accept that although he should. Starks, I could see pricing himself out of the Steelers range and I don't think he deserves top-tier LT money away. We're in a tough situation here unless Hills has shown promise.

Smith is the better LT obviously (compared to Starks) but the writing is on the wall. The guy has missed almost the last two seasons. You can't take that type of risk on a player especially long-term. And it's a BACK injury. There's no playing around when it comes to back injuries... he may never be the same player, nor do I feel confident that the back injury won't continue to give him problems in the future.

RuthlessBurgher
02-14-2009, 12:53 PM
I wouldn't be against a 1 year deal but I don't know if Smith will accept that although he should. Starks, I could see pricing himself out of the Steelers range and I don't think he deserves top-tier LT money away. We're in a tough situation here unless Hills has shown promise.

Smith is the better LT obviously (compared to Starks) but the writing is on the wall. The guy has missed almost the last two seasons. You can't take that type of risk on a player especially long-term. And it's a BACK injury. There's no playing around when it comes to back injuries... he may never be the same player, nor do I feel confident that the back injury won't continue to give him problems in the future.

Marvel might prefer a 1 year deal, actually. He is 30 now, and will be 31 by the start of the season. If he takes a one year deal, and somehow manages to make it through the season without back trouble and plays well, he still may able to get one last decent contract from someone when he will be 32 heading into the 2010 season. If he takes a 2 or 3 year deal, then he would be 33 or 34 when it expired, and he likely won't be able to get one last good contract at that age. His best bet would be to take a short deal with low base salary but with plenty of incentives for playing time and performance, thereby gambling on himself that he might have a good, relatively injury free season that could lead to a nice contract next year, since he won't be able to get that good contract now, coming off 2 straight seasons that were cut short by injury.

Steeler Shades
02-14-2009, 12:55 PM
Let me ask a couple of "what if questions": suppose Starks prices himself out of the Steelers and the Steelers sign Smith to a "reasonable" (for a LT) two year contract. Then the 3rd game of the year Smith has back problems (again) and can't play anymore. Where will that leave the Steelers? Considering Smith's history, how likely is that to happen? Is it worth the risk?

My answer is that considering Smith's history that it is at LEAST a 50/50 probability and is not worth the risk at a position as vital as LT. Smith can't help that he is hurt, but the Steelers can and should do something to improve the O-Line. "Hoping" Smith can actually play one year out of three, IMHO is not realistically doing much to help the O-Line situation and Ben. 8)

pfelix73
02-14-2009, 01:09 PM
The Steelers will give us a good idea on Smith's health. Buchette said (common sense too) that they know him inside and out and that this back problem should now be fixed permanently. Although they said that last year too....

Obviously, no one knows for sure if that is the truth but the doctors must know what they are talking about. I'm sure the Steelers have all the inside info. on it. If they don't re-sign him, then maybe the doctors aren't so sure about his prognosis afterall. A 1-year deal sounds to me like it would be the way to go.....

Steeler Shades
02-14-2009, 01:26 PM
... they know him inside and out and that this back problem should now be fixed permanently. Although they said that last year too....
I guess the question should be...do the Steelers (or anybody) know for sure whether Smith's back is going to last the entire season?

They supposedly thought that he was good to go this past season, and were wrong. Why would they be any better at predicting his health this coming year? 8)

Slapstick
02-14-2009, 02:18 PM
If the Steelers really thought Marvel Smith was good to go last season, then why bother tagging Starks as they did?

Mister Pittsburgh
02-14-2009, 03:07 PM
I have heard from a pretty reliable souce, and no I have no link or proof, but I have heard that Max Starks won't sign here in Pittsburgh. He thinks he was treated very unfairly by the organization over the years and will move on. I had heard this before the Superbowl, so I am not sure if winning the title would have changed his mind.

If he still feels the same way I wouldn't count on him being on the roster next year.

pfelix73
02-14-2009, 03:14 PM
I don't doubt this. His wording of things during the media day leads me to believe he wants to move on.....

Steeler Shades
02-14-2009, 03:15 PM
He thinks he was treated very unfairly by the organization over the years...
Sounds like Faneca. "The Steelers didn't treat me fairly and I want more money". At least Mahan didn't say that. 8)

Mister Pittsburgh
02-14-2009, 03:48 PM
[quote="Mister Pittsburgh":2i5qraf3] He thinks he was treated very unfairly by the organization over the years...
Sounds like Faneca. "The Steelers didn't treat me fairly and I want more money". At least Mahan didn't say that. 8)[/quote:2i5qraf3]

Well, mostly what I was told is that he felt they treated him poorly when they benched him and gave him no explanation at all as to why.....and then they say there is going to be an open competition and really, there wasn't.

Steeler Shades
02-14-2009, 05:54 PM
....then they say there is going to be an open competition and really, there wasn't.
Faneca also said "they' said things to him that were not true. Hopefully these players are exceptions. 8)

Chavezz
02-14-2009, 07:41 PM
OK I got it figured out guys, don't worry.

Sign Marvel to a 1 year incentive packed deal. He plays? He gets paid. Starter LT.

Sign Vernon Carey to a contract. Starter RT but BACKS UP LT.

Sign Colon to his RFA tender to keep him for 1 year. Back up player.


Draft a future RT

Smith goes down, Carey to LT and Colon back to his familiar RT spot.

I'd love to have Colon move on but lets face it, not happening this year and we DID win a Superbowl with him. If Smith stays healthy then we sign him again next year and everything is great. If he goes down, then Carey is your LT and Colon and the rookie battle it out, with hopefully the rook making Colon expendable.

Tackles set.

pfelix73
02-15-2009, 12:37 AM
That's not a bad idea. Carey could move over to LT then after 1 year. Now all we have to do is get Colbert on board with this idea...... :D

pfelix73
02-15-2009, 12:41 AM
.....Actually, if that happened, Colon could walk.... right out the friggin door..... see ya Willie..... Hills or Essex be 2nd on the depth chart at RT or a rook for that matter.... :D

Chavezz
02-15-2009, 05:16 PM
.....Actually, if that happened, Colon could walk.... right out the friggin door..... see ya Willie..... Hills or Essex be 2nd on the depth chart at RT or a rook for that matter.... :D


After 1 year I agree. I think we'd keep Colon just as insurance that Smith went out early in the season.

Seems like a realistic plan IMO. Unless carey can't play LT long term.

buckeyehoppy
02-15-2009, 07:56 PM
I have heard from a pretty reliable souce, and no I have no link or proof, but I have heard that Max Starks won't sign here in Pittsburgh. He thinks he was treated very unfairly by the organization over the years and will move on. I had heard this before the Superbowl, so I am not sure if winning the title would have changed his mind.

If he still feels the same way I wouldn't count on him being on the roster next year.

Well...if Baby F---ing Maxie Huey thinks he was treated unfairly then, I can assure you, that the feeling was mutual from the team and the fans.

Maxi Boy is NOT an elite LT in the NFL, but may well end up get elite $$$ from someone. As long as that someone isn't the Steelers, it'll be all good.

Signing Smith to a short-term, incentive-laden deal is obviously the best way to go, so long as his understudy is also drafted and the team can sign Essex as a b/u.

RuthlessBurgher
02-15-2009, 09:55 PM
.....Actually, if that happened, Colon could walk.... right out the friggin door..... see ya Willie..... Hills or Essex be 2nd on the depth chart at RT or a rook for that matter.... :D


After 1 year I agree. I think we'd keep Colon just as insurance that Smith went out early in the season.

Seems like a realistic plan IMO. Unless carey can't play LT long term.

All you have to do to keep Colon for one more year is to give him an RFA tender. Then when he is a UFA next offseason, you decide whether or not to re-sign him or let him walk.

calmkiller
02-16-2009, 12:33 PM
I agree with most people here. Let Max "baby Huey" Starks walk. He is an over payed statue.

Sign Smith to a 1 to 2 year deal, incentive based for 16 starts and so on.

Draft OL in the top 3 picks. I would love if we could actually get my draft to work out, even though at this point it is a pipe dream for the most part. If we can sign Carey as a FA then that would be great. We would have a good back up plan in place. Just dunno how much it will cost us.

Oviedo
02-16-2009, 12:46 PM
My first choice would be to sign Starks if he would be at or around his tag number last year. Draft Mack in the 1st and maybe Loadholt in the 2nd. If Starks is looking for 7.5-8.5 mil I would let him walk. Bring in Carey and sign Essex. Still draft Mack in the 1st & Loadholt in the 2nd. If they miss out on Starks & Carey I would sign Smith on a 2 year deal in the 1-2 mil range...If he takes it. Incentives to 5 mil if he starts 16 games. Target Beatty in the 1st for the future. Then maybe Unger or Urbick in the 2nd. I would hope the Steelers wouldn't leave the state of the franchise on Smith's back... :shock:...But instead make sure Starks or Carey is here before the draft. This is a deep draft at OL for the Steelers at the end of the 1st & 2nd rounds to secure 2 starters (If needed) on opening day on the interior or RT spot. It would be a shame to throw that opportunity away by pushing the panic button for a LT!!!

Do you really think that Carey will be demanding less than Starks? I don't.

I think the only real OT possibilities in Free agency are guys like:

Frank Omiyale (carolina)
Daniel Loper (Tenn)
Jon Dunn (Lions)
Ray Willis (Seattle), RT

Guys like Gross, Carey and Barnes will be out of our price range if Starks is. This is particularly true given that harrison is about to have a big payday.

An interesting pick is a couple of RFAs in Donald Penn (Tampa) and Tyson Clabo (Atlanta)RT. Go after one of them?

DBinAL
02-16-2009, 02:11 PM
The best thing going for the Steelers regarding Marvel Smith is that they know more about him than any other team.

What team would be willing to throw mega-bucks at an injured LT who has played 9-10 games in the last 2 years?

The Steelers can offer him a one year incentive laden contract and let Smith decide. If he turns it down, then the Steelers move on and make alternate plans. Maybe Marvel will have some sense of 'obligation' to the Steelers for paying him for doing almost nothing the last 2 years.

JUST-PLAIN-NASTY
02-16-2009, 02:21 PM
My first choice would be to sign Starks if he would be at or around his tag number last year. Draft Mack in the 1st and maybe Loadholt in the 2nd. If Starks is looking for 7.5-8.5 mil I would let him walk. Bring in Carey and sign Essex. Still draft Mack in the 1st & Loadholt in the 2nd. If they miss out on Starks & Carey I would sign Smith on a 2 year deal in the 1-2 mil range...If he takes it. Incentives to 5 mil if he starts 16 games. Target Beatty in the 1st for the future. Then maybe Unger or Urbick in the 2nd. I would hope the Steelers wouldn't leave the state of the franchise on Smith's back... :shock:...But instead make sure Starks or Carey is here before the draft. This is a deep draft at OL for the Steelers at the end of the 1st & 2nd rounds to secure 2 starters (If needed) on opening day on the interior or RT spot. It would be a shame to throw that opportunity away by pushing the panic button for a LT!!!

Do you really think that Carey will be demanding less than Starks? I don't.

I think the only real OT possibilities in Free agency are guys like:

Frank Omiyale (carolina)
Daniel Loper (Tenn)
Jon Dunn (Lions)
Ray Willis (Seattle), RT

Guys like Gross, Carey and Barnes will be out of our price range if Starks is. This is particularly true given that harrison is about to have a big payday.

An interesting pick is a couple of RFAs in Donald Penn (Tampa) and Tyson Clabo (Atlanta)RT. Go after one of them?

I never said Carey would be cheaper. That is why Starks is my 1st choice. If Starks wants 7.5-8.5, I would let him walk. I would rather pay Carey that kind of money over Starks. Gross is out of this equation because he will end up being the highest paid OL after this is all said and done. The Steelers have to do a "Hartings" type of signing. They will need a young, proven vet LT going into camp. They really don't have any option. If they feel that Smith really can give them 1-2 years of healthy football he might be the best option. Sign him on a 2 year deal at a low base salary with incentives of starting 16 games that could earn him 5-6 mil. Target a LT in the 1st 2 rounds and keep your fingers crossed! If a guy like Beatty is around they might draft him and have him ready for 2010. If Smith's back doesn't hold up he is inserted early. The #1 priority for the Steelers in this offseason is to make sure there is not a question mark on LT before the draft. If it means letting Kemo, Essex, and McFadden walk...That's the way it has to be. I don't think a "Steeler type of signing" in FA will end up being the answer at LT. I think this will be a Hartings, Gandy, Woolford type of signing if they loose Starks. Again, Smith might be the bridge to the rookie they could draft this year but only the Steelers know what Smith has left!!!

RuthlessBurgher
02-16-2009, 02:58 PM
An interesting pick is a couple of RFAs in Donald Penn (Tampa) and Tyson Clabo (Atlanta)RT. Go after one of them?

It depends what level tender their teams give them. If it is the lowest tender, we wouldn't owe the Bucs or Falcons anything if we signed them, since they both came into the league as undrafted free agents (althought Tampa and Atlanta would have the option to match our deal and keep them). If they went with a higher tender, we could owe draft compensation, so I doubt that would happen.

Iron Shiek
02-16-2009, 03:14 PM
Khalif Barnes is on Sirius right now. He sounds like an intriguing prospect. Not sure why the Jags don't want him back...seems they are just wanting to dump salaries I guess (with the Taylor slashing as well). So I imagine Barnes will be out of our price range as well? He sounds like a tough player, proclaiming he's only missed 4 practices in his tenure there, and never really missed a game. Actually even played on a broken fibula against Seymore and the Cheaters a few years back. Tough kinda Steeler guy it sounds to me...and the hosts were having some good stuff to say about him. However I know nothing about his technique and how "good" he is, is he someone that would fit with our team, or are we just as well off with Starks?

JUST-PLAIN-NASTY
02-16-2009, 04:32 PM
Khalif Barnes is on Sirius right now. He sounds like an intriguing prospect. Not sure why the Jags don't want him back...seems they are just wanting to dump salaries I guess (with the Taylor slashing as well). So I imagine Barnes will be out of our price range as well? He sounds like a tough player, proclaiming he's only missed 4 practices in his tenure there, and never really missed a game. Actually even played on a broken fibula against Seymore and the Cheaters a few years back. Tough kinda Steeler guy it sounds to me...and the hosts were having some good stuff to say about him. However I know nothing about his technique and how "good" he is, is he someone that would fit with our team, or are we just as well off with Starks?

I would have no problem with Barnes instead of Starks. I think Carey & Barnes are realistic. Both will get more elsewhere if they look. It might come down to playing for a winner. Barnes looked like he was the next franchise LT since Boselli in Jacksonville. He came on early starting 3/4 of his rookie season and has been solid on the left side. He is one of those "Needs a change of scenery" players who could re-spark his career somewhere else. Got in the doghouse after an incident with a DUI and calling the arresting officer a racist. Very ugly situation. Might need to leave that behind him and start fresh somewhere else. I think he would come at the same price as Carey. Both are solid and honestly...An upgrade over Starks!

Iron Shiek
02-16-2009, 04:41 PM
Thanks for that breakdown...knew the name but nothing about his game.

Anyway, he sounds like he has some serious fire and has a lot of confidence in his game. Hopefully he gets a good look from us. If only so that I can bring a sign to the game that says, "Hey Santonio, Spark the Khalif"

JUST-PLAIN-NASTY
02-16-2009, 07:04 PM
Thanks for that breakdown...knew the name but nothing about his game.

Anyway, he sounds like he has some serious fire and has a lot of confidence in his game. Hopefully he gets a good look from us. If only so that I can bring a sign to the game that says, "Hey Santonio, Spark the Khalif"

Only right if we sign him. The Jags stole Searcy from us!!!!