PDA

View Full Version : Steelers to face some tough decisions



fordfixer
04-21-2009, 10:45 PM
Steelers to face some tough decisions

By Scott Brown, TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Last updated: 8:07 am

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsbu ... 21517.html (http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_621517.html)

Wide receiver Hines Ward says he wants to retire as a Steeler.

Nose tackle Casey Hampton, who's also entering the final year of his contract, says he wants to stay in Pittsburgh beyond the 2009 season.

How many veterans such as Ward and Hampton that the Steelers can accommodate remains to be seen.

The Steelers are near the salary cap. Finding the wiggle room that would allow them to sign key players to multiyear contracts won't be easy, especially given the uncertain labor situation.

The Steelers have such limited room under the salary cap that they released running back Gary Russell last week to make room for backup quarterback Charlie Batch, director of football operations Kevin Colbert said Monday.

"There could be further deletions as we move forward," Colbert said, "depending on how our cap situation evolves."

The highest 51 salaries count against the cap until a 53-man roster is set at the end of preseason practice.

Among the contracts the Steelers still have to fit under the salary cap, which will be $127 million in 2009, are those given to players they take in the NFL Draft this weekend.

The Steelers, who signed outside linebacker James Harrison last week to a six-year, $51.175 million contract, are hoping to reach a multiyear agreement with offensive tackle Max Starks that would give them salary cap relief. Starks is due $8.45 million this season.

When the owners opted out of the collective bargaining agreement last year, it triggered certain restrictions that limit how creative teams can be when negotiating or restructuring contracts. One restriction doesn't allow for base salaries to increase by more than 30 percent a year.

A new CBA doesn't appear to be imminent because the NFL Players Association didn't elect a new executive director until last month.

As such, the timing of having so many players heading into the final year of their contract 10 starters from last season fall into that category isn't exactly ideal for the Steelers.

Two players, Ward and Hampton, were among the Steelers who took part in the team's first offseason practice yesterday.

Ward, who had offseason shoulder surgery and played on a sprained knee in Super Bowl XLIII, said he's easing back into workouts. He expects to be 100 percent by the start of training camp.

Even at 33, Ward said he still has some good years left in him, and the 12-year veteran left no doubt that he wants to finish his career where it started.

"I don't want to put on another uniform," said Ward, who holds most of the Steelers' major receiving records. "I want to go down as one of the better wideouts to wear the black and gold. If the two parties can come together and agree to that, I'm all for it."

Hampton, 31, says he feels the same way.

The nine-year veteran said signing Harrison and inside linebacker James Farrior, who agreed to a multiyear deal last year, shows that the Steelers will pay valued veterans.

"The myth is kind of changing of not paying guys over 30," Hampton said.

Then, he added with a hearty laugh, "Just look out for me one time."

Unfinished business?

With essentially no room left under the salary cap, the Steelers may have to make some tough decisions regarding which veterans they sign to multiyear contracts. Here's a look at the key players that are heading into the final year of their contracts:

Offense

Player Pos.

Willie Colon OT

Justin Hartwig C

Heath Miller TE

Max Starks OT

Hines Ward WR

Defense

Player Pos.

Ryan Clark FS

Larry Foote ILB

Casey Hampton NT

Brett Keisel DE

Specialists

Player Pos.

Jeff Reed K

Chadman
04-21-2009, 11:05 PM
If the Steelers can extend Starks, Ward & Hampton post-draft- that should free up the cap space to sign the rookies.

No need to extend all 10 players- just keep the integral ones.

steelz09
04-21-2009, 11:21 PM
wow, we are going to see a lot of new faces come next year.

Perhaps, giving Harrison that 52 million deal strapped us big time

Steel Life
04-22-2009, 12:01 AM
I'd like to start by suggesting we dump Tyrone Carter for Mundy or a draft pick ASAP.

Chadman
04-22-2009, 12:12 AM
I'd like to start by suggesting we dump Tyrone Carter for Mundy or a draft pick ASAP.

Not sure about that one- it would essentially mean that Mundy/rookie are your #1 back-up Safety. Unless the Steelers draft Louis Delmas (HINT!! Take it FO!!), or some other highly touted rookie in the draft (Take Delmas!!), do you feel comfortable should injury befall Ryan Clark or Troy?

Carter isn't great- but he's solid.

To be honest- if the Steelers DO grab that Summers kid from UNLV, they'll be REALLY stocked at RB. Maybe Parker is a casualty? Trade perhaps?

Now- Hoke & Kirschke are expensive back-ups that will never threaten to start over the incumbants- they could be casualties too.

And then there is Larry Foote...

frankthetank1
04-22-2009, 07:39 AM
wow, we are going to see a lot of new faces come next year.

Perhaps, giving Harrison that 52 million deal strapped us big time

or paying starks 8 mill a year doesnt help either. ben's contract is also very large. harrison deserves the contract he got. they have to find a way to keep ward, clark, kiesel and reed. hampton, colon and foote will probably play their last season as a steeler. hopefully they can sign starks to a long term deal soon

Oviedo
04-22-2009, 07:55 AM
wow, we are going to see a lot of new faces come next year.

Perhaps, giving Harrison that 52 million deal strapped us big time

I've been saying that since the end of last season. I really expect you will see 8-10 new faces on the "Final 53" come the beginning of September 2009.

The business model is going to force it to occur. The team has to get more players at the low end of the pay scale in key areas. The Steelers have always been good at establihing a ratio of the salary cap and allocating that towards certain unit, e.g. OL, DL, etc.

The flexibility they use to have to play around with the cap all went out the window when they got a legitimate franchise QB and signed him to a long term contract. Ben's contract and the % of the cap he absorbs greatly limits the maneuver room that the team has. James Harrison's contract just made that worse. Don't think I think either contract was a mistake because both were the right thing to do but now we have to deal with the second order effects which I predict will be: Hampton and Foote being released or traded and the inability to extend all the players that ideally they would like to who are entering their final year.

Of all the players entering the final year of their contracts Heath Miller is probably the only "Must sign." There are a couple would be great to sign like Starks and Kiesel but the rest will need to be let go to get the salary structure under control.

That is why I think they are locking and loading to go after the big prize this season. They see that they may have to take one step back to prepare to take two steps forward after the 2009 season.

BURGH86STEEL
04-22-2009, 08:04 AM
The organization will face some tough decisions. This means they will not be able to keep everybody. Some players will need to take less money or face the idea of playing for another team.

steelblood
04-22-2009, 08:18 AM
If the Steelers can extend Starks, Ward & Hampton post-draft- that should free up the cap space to sign the rookies.

No need to extend all 10 players- just keep the integral ones.

I think Starks money became guaranteed when he signed the tag. I don't see Hampton taking a pay cut. Ward might to get fair money for a few more years.

Northern_Blitz
04-22-2009, 09:56 AM
wow, we are going to see a lot of new faces come next year.

Perhaps, giving Harrison that 52 million deal strapped us big time

I've been saying that since the end of last season. I really expect you will see 8-10 new faces on the "Final 53" come the beginning of September 2009.

The business model is going to force it to occur. The team has to get more players at the low end of the pay scale in key areas. The Steelers have always been good at establihing a ratio of the salary cap and allocating that towards certain unit, e.g. OL, DL, etc.

The flexibility they use to have to play around with the cap all went out the window when they got a legitimate franchise QB and signed him to a long term contract. Ben's contract and the % of the cap he absorbs greatly limits the maneuver room that the team has. James Harrison's contract just made that worse. Don't think I think either contract was a mistake because both were the right thing to do but now we have to deal with the second order effects which I predict will be: Hampton and Foote being released or traded and the inability to extend all the players that ideally they would like to who are entering their final year.

Of all the players entering the final year of their contracts Heath Miller is probably the only "Must sign." There are a couple would be great to sign like Starks and Kiesel but the rest will need to be let go to get the salary structure under control.

That is why I think they are locking and loading to go after the big prize this season. They see that they may have to take one step back to prepare to take two steps forward after the 2009 season.

I don't think that the problem is the business model. The issue in my oppinion is the uncertainty with the labour contract.

Normally, we'd extend guys, give them salary as bonuses and have their contract numbers escalate over time. That's against the rules with the current CBA because it wouldn't be fair to push salary into a time period that may be uncapped. The problem is that we can't do what we'd normally do in this situation (extend to reduce cap number), not that the model is flawed because we now have Ben.

Oviedo
04-22-2009, 10:32 AM
wow, we are going to see a lot of new faces come next year.

Perhaps, giving Harrison that 52 million deal strapped us big time

I've been saying that since the end of last season. I really expect you will see 8-10 new faces on the "Final 53" come the beginning of September 2009.

The business model is going to force it to occur. The team has to get more players at the low end of the pay scale in key areas. The Steelers have always been good at establihing a ratio of the salary cap and allocating that towards certain unit, e.g. OL, DL, etc.

The flexibility they use to have to play around with the cap all went out the window when they got a legitimate franchise QB and signed him to a long term contract. Ben's contract and the % of the cap he absorbs greatly limits the maneuver room that the team has. James Harrison's contract just made that worse. Don't think I think either contract was a mistake because both were the right thing to do but now we have to deal with the second order effects which I predict will be: Hampton and Foote being released or traded and the inability to extend all the players that ideally they would like to who are entering their final year.

Of all the players entering the final year of their contracts Heath Miller is probably the only "Must sign." There are a couple would be great to sign like Starks and Kiesel but the rest will need to be let go to get the salary structure under control.

That is why I think they are locking and loading to go after the big prize this season. They see that they may have to take one step back to prepare to take two steps forward after the 2009 season.

I don't think that the problem is the business model. The issue in my oppinion is the uncertainty with the labour contract.

Normally, we'd extend guys, give them salary as bonuses and have their contract numbers escalate over time. That's against the rules with the current CBA because it wouldn't be fair to push salary into a time period that may be uncapped. The problem is that we can't do what we'd normally do in this situation (extend to reduce cap number), not that the model is flawed because we now have Ben.

I do agree that the uncertainty about the CBA is creating serious challenges but we have to acknowlledge that we are getting top heavy in some areas and needs to get some younger and less expensive talent.