View Full Version : Harrison can still expect big bucks

03-10-2009, 10:55 PM
Beaver County Times, Pa., Mike Bires column: Bires: Harrison can still expect big bucks


Mar. 10--
It is not a matter of if the Steelers and James Harrison agree on a new contract. It's when.

The deal will get done because Harrison has no choice.

What's he going to do if he doesn't get the money he wants? Hold out? He'd be a fool.

Harrison, the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year last season, deserves a hefty pay raise. And he's going to get one.

That contract will no doubt be shy of the $20 million guaranteed he reportedly wants. But it will come close enough.

Harrison deserves big bucks for one of the most dominating two-year runs ever by a Steelers defender. He's also been paid backup money the past two years because Joey Porter was still the starter at right outside linebacker when Harrison signed his existing contract in 2006. The Rooneys are frugal but no unfair.

Still, Harrison is under contract for another year.

If he balks and turns down whatever the Steelers' final offer may be, he'll be forced to play at a base salary of roughly $1.4 million in 2009. He could then shop himself on the open market in 2010 as a 32-year-old unrestricted free agent.

Then again, the Steelers could keep him next year by tagging him as a franchise player.

On a positive note, talks between the Steelers' negotiators and agent Bill Parise are on-going. Parise said Monday afternoon, he had already spoken to the Steelers three times earlier in the day.

"We're working at it," Parise said. "That's all I really have to say right now." In other free agent matters: l The Steelers need a new No. 3 wide receiver, and Joey Galloway may be the man.

Yes, Galloway is 37 and out of work after a recent purge of five highly-paid veterans by the new regime in Tampa Bay. Still, Galloway could be a good fit in Pittsburgh -- but only as a role player.

Galloway, who visited with the Steelers on Monday, claims he's healthy after missing seven games last year with a foot injury.

He has surpassed 1,000 receiving yards six times in his career, including a three-year stretch from 2005-2007.

He should come relatively cheap. And he's familiar with Mike Tomlin, the secondary coach in Tampa during Galloway's first two seasons with the Buccaneers.

If the Steelers do sign Galloway, they would not have to rush Limas Sweed, a second-round draft pick last year, into the rotation.

l Now that the Steelers have lost free agent cornerback Bryant McFadden to free agency, William Gay will get the chance to start. Tomlin loves Gay's upside. And remember, Gay played in the Super Bowl just as much as McFadden.

On one hand, it's tough to lose a player like McFadden, who signed Sunday with the Arizona Cardinals. But on the other hand, the Steelers are ready to pencil in Gay as the starter. There's also speculation that the Steelers may take Wake Forest cornerback Alphonso Smith in the first round of next month's draft.

l We're into the second week of free agency, and Byron Leftwich still doesn't have an offer. Apparently, none of the teams in need of quarterback help think he's a viable option as a starter.

Mike Bires can be reached online at mbires@timesonline.com To see more of Beaver County Times, Pa., or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.timesonline.com.

03-11-2009, 07:34 AM
alphonso smith in the first? no thanks

03-11-2009, 08:43 AM
For this year, the tag cost of a LB is $8.3M. Let's assume that the value goes up by 10% for next year, which is a high estimate. That would make the '09 tag cost $9.1M. Without negotiating, we can keep him for two years at just over $10M. We can probably keep him 3 years at around $20M. The only difference in negotiating is that we can spread our hit better if he signs a 3 year contract now, and he will benefit by getting a nice chunk of it up front.