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NKySteeler
05-11-2009, 08:32 PM
The significance of Ward’s deal

Bob Labriola, a Pittsburgh native, has been editor of Steelers Digest since its inception in 1988. This page offers him an opportunity to provide additional insights into the Steelers, the NFL and the events that are making news.

It was a classic NFL-style quid pro quo, to be sure, but there are some other things worth noting about the Steelers’ move to sign Hines Ward to a five-year extension.

The quid pro quo was that while the team got some needed salary cap maneuverability by doing an extension with Ward as he entered the final year of the contract he had signed in 2005, Ward got a nice chunk of money to sign and the security that comes with being a 33-year-old with a multi-year deal.

But the other aspect to this has to do with Steelers history, and Ward always has expressed pride in being a part of that. Already holding every significant receiving record in franchise history, Ward is on the precipice of being one of the few post-free agency period star players to spend an entire career with the Steelers.

The point first was brought up by Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette during a lull in two-a-day minicamp practices. Not many players in Steelers history have a chance to do what Ward seems certain to accomplish, with what certainly will be this final contract extension: join Dermontti Dawson and Joel Steed as the only ones to start and finish in a Steelers uniform since free agency became part of the NFL in 1993.

Think about it. Jerome Bettis never left, but he started with the Rams. Greg Lloyd played for Carolina, Tunch Ilkin a season in Green Bay. Rod Woodson, Joey Porter, Alan Faneca, Levon Kirkland, Carnell Lake, Gary Anderson, Jason Gildon, Barry Foster. Even Kordell Stewart and Neil O’Donnell. A complete career with the Steelers was easier to accomplish before free agency, but even Franco Harris and Mike Webster played out the string with a different team.

“It’s a big honor for me to start my career here and evidently end my career here,” said Ward, who already has 800 career catches and is only 220 yards short of 10,000. “For me, I really don’t want to put on another uniform. That was never my intention. To assure I will always wear a black-and-gold uniform, I’m relieved.”

BAIT AND SWITCH

Byron Leftwich spent free agency looking for a team that would give him a fair shot to be a starting quarterback again, and he signed with Tampa Bay. As it turned out, the Buccaneers weren’t that team.

The contract Leftwich signed was reported as a two-year deal worth $7.5 million, significantly higher than what the Steelers were willing to pay anyone to be Ben Roethlisberger’s backup, but the whole thing looks like a mirage. First of all, $3.5 million of that total will come in a roster bonus not payable until March 2010 with $2 million more in salary for the 2010 season, which didn’t seem so bad until the Buccaneers traded up in the first round to pick Kansas State quarterback Josh Freeman.

During a draft-day chat with NFL.com, Freeman revealed he knew all along that Tampa Bay was his primary suitor. “I felt that all along,” wrote Freeman of the Buccaneers’ interest, “even when they picked up Byron Leftwich. It was something they told me. They told me it was a smoke screen, (that) everybody would think they didn’t want a QB.

They said they were ready to trade up. I think it worked out great. I was sitting there with my family and enjoying it, and I got to go to the team that I wanted to go to.”

The Steelers had expressed an interest in re-signing Leftwich, who signed a one-year deal last August to be the team’s backup after Charlie Batch injured his shoulder in the preseason opener. Soon after Leftwich signed with Tampa Bay, Batch, who also had been an unrestricted free agent, re-signed with the Steelers.

KNOWING YOUR AUDIENCE

Whether offensive tackle Michael Oher, the Ravens’ first-round draft pick, turns into another All-Pro like Jonathan Ogden won’t be known for years, but what’s known right now is that Oher can work a room from behind the microphone.

During the news conference in Baltimore called to introduce him to the city, Oher said, right at the start, “I’m going to do everything I possibly can to get them to beat Pittsburgh.”

Nothing like stoking a rivalry six months in advance.

fordfixer
05-11-2009, 11:37 PM
Great read thanks for posting

NKySteeler
05-11-2009, 11:48 PM
Great read thanks for posting

Hey man, it's gonna be in your mailbox soon... If you haven't already gotten it.... :wink:

fordfixer
05-11-2009, 11:51 PM
Great read thanks for posting

Hey man, it's gonna be in your mailbox soon... If you haven't already gotten it.... :wink:
:tt1 :tt1 Crap now I wish I hadn't read it :HeadBanger :lol:

proudpittsburgher
05-13-2009, 09:56 AM
During a draft-day chat with NFL.com, Freeman revealed he knew all along that Tampa Bay was his primary suitor. “I felt that all along,” wrote Freeman of the Buccaneers’ interest, “even when they picked up Byron Leftwich. It was something they told me. They told me it was a smoke screen, (that) everybody would think they didn’t want a QB.

I feel bad for Lefty, but he should have known what he was getting into by testing the waters . . . there aren't many teams who treat you as a human being like the Steelers. And Charlie Batch was the main beneficiary. I like Batch, but the Steelers would have been a better team with Lefty as the primary backup. As for Freeman, he comes off as a punk who has no idea of how to treat and respect a veteran by making the comments he did. Use a little common sense. :loser

Oviedo
05-13-2009, 10:16 AM
During a draft-day chat with NFL.com, Freeman revealed he knew all along that Tampa Bay was his primary suitor. “I felt that all along,” wrote Freeman of the Buccaneers’ interest, “even when they picked up Byron Leftwich. It was something they told me. They told me it was a smoke screen, (that) everybody would think they didn’t want a QB.

I feel bad for Lefty, but he should have known what he was getting into by testing the waters . . . there aren't many teams who treat you as a human being like the Steelers. And Charlie Batch was the main beneficiary. I like Batch, but the Steelers would have been a better team with Lefty as the primary backup. As for Freeman, he comes off as a punk who has no idea of how to treat and respect a veteran by making the comments he did. Use a little common sense. :loser

Batch as the primary back-up to Ben terrifies me.
:(
You saw last year before he got hurt that his arm is gone. Batch may be a great team guy and a great citizen in the community but he needs to be a coach not a guy we may need to win games on the field.

Mel Blount's G
05-13-2009, 08:34 PM
I don't feel bad for Leftwich whatsoever. He passed on a chance to get another ring with a quality organization. He moved on to a club in rebuilding mode, a losing team, a team with about half a dozen qb's on the roster I think, and he had to know it wasn't a lock that he was gonna start. He had his bags packed before the SB party was even over. I wish him no ill luck but I certainly feel NO pity for him.



And I wonder too what batch has left in the proverbial tank. The guy is smart and knows the offense - it's unlikely he's gonna fumble snaps and throw boneheaded picks ala' Tommy's disappointing last days - but his mobility and arm are certainly a concern. Hopefully Dixon will work his azz off in an attempt to beat the ol' guy for the #2 spot

RuthlessBurgher
05-14-2009, 09:01 AM
What if the rookie Freeman looks promising and McCown impresses enough that he should be able to hold the fort there for at least this season? It is not out of the realm of possibility that they could still cut Leftwich (since they signed him to a pretty significant 2 year $7 million deal, but none of it is guaranteed, so they would not lose anything if they cut him, figuring that salary would be too much for a backup if another QB wins the starting job). If that were the case, I would sign Byron to the same deal we gave him last year, even if he does not become available until the last round of camp cuts, because he already knows our offense from being here all last year, so missing our camp would not be as vital as if he were someone unfamiliar with our system signing off the street.

frankthetank1
05-14-2009, 04:36 PM
During a draft-day chat with NFL.com, Freeman revealed he knew all along that Tampa Bay was his primary suitor. “I felt that all along,” wrote Freeman of the Buccaneers’ interest, “even when they picked up Byron Leftwich. It was something they told me. They told me it was a smoke screen, (that) everybody would think they didn’t want a QB.

I feel bad for Lefty, but he should have known what he was getting into by testing the waters . . . there aren't many teams who treat you as a human being like the Steelers. And Charlie Batch was the main beneficiary. I like Batch, but the Steelers would have been a better team with Lefty as the primary backup. As for Freeman, he comes off as a punk who has no idea of how to treat and respect a veteran by making the comments he did. Use a little common sense. :loser

Batch as the primary back-up to Ben terrifies me.
:(
You saw last year before he got hurt that his arm is gone. Batch may be a great team guy and a great citizen in the community but he needs to be a coach not a guy we may need to win games on the field.

im with you on that one. i really dont want batch as the #2 qb, that is very scary. the little he played a couple of seasons ago he was ok but that was a couple of seasons ago. it was a nice luxury having lefy last season. hopefully dixon is a fast learner and is impressive in camp, but that is highly unlikely

steeler_fan_in_t.o.
05-15-2009, 09:09 AM
Dixon had a bit of a redshirt year last year as he was coming off of injury. He was probably a first day pick before that injury. I wonder where he is at and if he will be able to assume the #2 spot.

RuthlessBurgher
05-15-2009, 09:33 AM
Dixon had a bit of a redshirt year last year as he was coming off of injury. He was probably a first day pick before that injury. I wonder where he is at and if he will be able to assume the #2 spot.

If he is the active #2 backup QB and not the #3 emergency QB, he could also be used for occassionally trickeration plays here and there as well.

steeler_fan_in_t.o.
05-15-2009, 09:40 AM
Dixon had a bit of a redshirt year last year as he was coming off of injury. He was probably a first day pick before that injury. I wonder where he is at and if he will be able to assume the #2 spot.

If he is the active #2 backup QB and not the #3 emergency QB, he could also be used for occassionally trickeration plays here and there as well.

True, he could become somewhat of a Randle El type while being the backup. I wonder if BA still has any of the old playbooks. He could also be a wildcat guy like Brown in Miami.

However, while all of that is well and good, the real question is how will he perform if called in to start? I'm sure he benefitted from hanging around Coach Batch on the sidelines all year, and we know that he has the physical tools. Hopefully he is able to put it together if the unthinkable happens.

fordfixer
05-15-2009, 06:41 PM
Great read thanks for posting

Hey man, it's gonna be in your mailbox soon... If you haven't already gotten it.... :wink:


woohoo got mine today :tt1 :tt1 :tt1