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fordfixer
02-21-2009, 12:24 AM
Column: Steelers off-season decision just beginning

http://timesonline.com/articles/2009/02 ... 885313.txt (http://timesonline.com/articles/2009/02/19/sports/steelers/doc499e3bfd04c20222885313.txt)

By Mike Bires, Times Sports Staff
Published: Friday, February 20, 2009 12:18 AM EST
The Pittsburgh Steelers have made their first move in their attempt to field a team capable of a serious Super Bowl defense. They played tag again with Max Starks.

On Thursday, they tagged Starks as a franchise player in a move that figures to keep their offensive line basically intact for the 2009 season.

It’s the first of several major decisions for the powers to be, most notably personnel director Kevin Colbert.

Next up is finalizing an extension for linebacker James Harrison, the MVP of SB 43. An announcement may come sooner than later.

Harrison’s agent, Rochester Township’s Bill Parise, has already begun negotiations. Colbert said recently that re-signing Harrison was his No. 1 priority, even more important than dealing with issues on the offensive line.

If Colbert is true to his word, Harrison’s new deal is expected.

Next on Colbert’s to-do list is deciding on starting cornerback Bryant McFadden, who’s eligible for unrestricted free agency starting a week from today.

Preferably, the Steelers would love to keep McFadden. He’s their second-best corner. But McFadden has said he’s excited about getting that “nice check” he could fetch on the open market.

With the money Harrison will soon get and the $8.5 million Starks will make as a franchise player, the Steelers may not be able to match offers McFadden may get from other teams.

“He is a priority,” Colbert said of McFadden. “(But) we understand that we’re not going to be able to keep this team together. We will continue to negotiate with all of our free agents.”

Even though the Steelers could lose McFadden and second-team wide receiver Nate Washington via free agency, they’re optimistic about matters on the O-line.

Now that Starks is the franchise player, Marvel Smith’s days in Pittsburgh are over. With a chronic back problem, he’s damaged goods. That’s why the Steelers were willing to pay Starks the average salary of the five highest-paid linemen in the league.

Last year when he was the transition player, Starks was paid $6.9 million, the average of the 10 highest-paid salaries for an O-lineman. Now that he’s at left tackle, where he played once Smith went down in Week 6, Starks is better suited. Don’t be surprised if Starks agrees to tear up his franchise player contract in favor of a long-term deal. After all, he’s only 27.

Regarding left guard Chris Kemoeatu, 26, who is eligible for unrestricted free agency, look for him to be re-signed soon, too.

Right tackle Willie Colon, who took the starting job away from Starks two years ago, turns 26 in ApriI.

After a slow start, Justin Hartwig developed into a steady center. At 30, he’s still has a lot of football ahead of him.

At right guard, Kendall Simmons, who is soon to be 30, hopes to recover from an Achilles’ tendon injury and play significantly better than his replacement, Darnell Stapleton.

The Steelers should have most of their free-agent matters settled soon. Then they can concentrate on the draft.

Defensive line, offensive line, wide receiver and cornerback seem to be the most pressing needs.

“We always talk about the Steeler Way,” Colbert said. “It’s all about trying to do the right thing all the time.”

Mike Bires can be reached online at mbires@timesonline.com

TallyStiller
02-21-2009, 02:05 PM
I honestly expected that Kemo would be gone. If they resign him, we're basically drafting for depth on the O line, and it becomes a possibility that we look elsewhere with our #1 pick... in the scenario described here, 6 of our top 8 linemen are here, with only Essex and Smith possibly out the door. With all of those linemen with anywhere from 4 to 8 or more productive years left, the heretofore unthinkable idea that we could go DL, CB, or even WR 1st round comes into play.

birtikidis
02-21-2009, 02:28 PM
is this writer retarded? Holmes was the MVP of the super bowl. dumbass. also, I've never heard BMac say he was excited about a "nice check" i'm sure if he said it... i'd have heard it on here. most posters on here are more knowledgable then most writers.

pittpete
02-22-2009, 01:42 AM
Omar Kelly | South Florida Sun-Sentinel
1:03 PM EST, February 19, 2009

http://www.sun-sentinel.com/sports/foot ... 8629.story

Winning an NFL championship just doesn't breed envy. It also fuels coveting from other NFL teams.

That's the situation the Steelers are presently facing heading into free agency, and McArthur High product Bryant McFadden could be positively impacted by his team's success. At least his wallet could.

The cornerback's services will be in demand when/if he hits the open market, and there is concern in Pittsburgh that his salary requests could put him in another jersey next season.

If a deal isn't struck by Feb. 27, McFadden will be free to field offers from the rest of the NFL, and the Dolphins could be interested in bringing this South Floridian home.

"My first option is going back to the Steelers, but I'm looking for a nice little check," said McFadden, a former Florida State standout who was selected in the second-round of the 2005 draft.

Kevin Colbert, the Steelers director of football operations said the team's still talking to their 18 free agents, which includes their top four offensive linemen, hammering out more details in the negotiations. Pittsburgh is roughly $18 million under the 2009 salary cap.

Colbert admitted Pittsburgh's top priority is re-working James Harrison's contract, ensuring that the 2008 Defensive Player of the Year finishes his career in Pittsburgh. Addressing the offensive linemen comes next.

But where does that leave McFadden, who has started 18 games over the past four seasons, averaging 34 tackles per year, and intercepting seven passes in his career?

"He is a priority, but we're not going to be able to keep this whole team together. We will continue to negotiate with all our free agents, and what comes together comes together," Colbert said.

"It only takes one team to accelerate the price. It doesn't take a great market [at the position]," Colbert said. "But if one team has a sincere interest and you're not able to match that you're probably going to lose that player."

fordfixer
02-22-2009, 02:08 AM
viewtopic.php?f=2&t=5611 (http://www.planetsteelers.com/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=5611)