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hawaiiansteel
02-15-2011, 03:03 PM
Behind the Steel Curtain is doing an analysis of each of the Steelers' free agents, I will add in the new ones to this thread as they are released. here are the four they have posted so far, starting with Willie Colon.


Pittsburgh Steelers 2011 Free Agents Analysis: Willie Colon

by Michael Bean on Feb 12, 2011

http://cdn1.sbnation.com/entry_photo_images/879515/gyi0063276512.jpg

Ronald Martinez - Getty Images

2010 Salary: $2,204,240

The back story: Willie Colon entered the NFL in 2006 as a 4th round project out of the University of Hofstra. Born in the Bronx, a rough and tumble urban environment where basketball reigns supreme, Colon was obviously a late bloomer in terms of his exposure to high level competition on the gridiron. The result was extreme struggles early on in his career with the Steelers. After starting two games in his rookie season, Colon was named the full time starter at right tackle in 2007. Even though Max Starks had starting experience on a Super Bowl winning team in '05, Colon got the nod. At the time (yes, I was writing back then), I wondered if the Steelers were decided to start Colon over Starks for financial reasons. Basically Starks' contract was coming up, and if he played an integral role on that '07 team at right tackle, he'd be pretty expensive to retain in free agency. Meanwhile the Steelers wouldn't really know what they had in Colon.

Anyway, Colon struggled in '07 and '08. So badly in fact that he became the poster boy for the offensive line's struggles. Most of the criticism was deserved, though folks were perhaps too unforgiving of the fact that he'd never in his life come close to facing the caliber of athletic talent that each NFL team has during his high school and collegiate days. In '09, Colon turned the corner. He wasn't perfect, but he improved dramatically, and by season's end was widely regarded as the team's best offensive lineman.

Unfortunately for Colon, sheer bad luck stood in the way of him signing an unrestricted free agent deal at about this time last year. Under the provisions of the last CBA, Colon's four years of service were no longer enough to qualify him for URFA status. Instead, Colon had to sign a one-year RFA deal last offseason that paid him a nice sum. But make no mistake about it: had Colon entered the league just one year earlier and qualified for URFA after the '09 season, he would have been able to find a suitor willing to offer a multi-year deal in the eight digits, with perhaps as much as $10-$15 million in guarantees.

The BTSC Consensus: Well, there wasn't exactly the same type of consensus amongst you all about what should be done with Colon moving forward. Some thought he should be re-signed; many others thoughts it was time to let him walk. However, the common them I kept reading was something along the lines of: 'let's see how he is injury-wise before offering up any sort of long-term deal.' Well, that's somewhat fair and understandable, but it's also flat-out ignoring the facts. Colon had been one of the asbolute most durable guys on the team and entire NFL from '07-'09. He made 48 consecutive starts in those three seasons, missing not even a single game. He also started all four of the Steelers postseason games during that stretch.

In fact, following the '07 season, Colon earned the top figure in the NFL’s "Performance-Based Pay" system that awards lower-salaried players for playing time. What's that you ask? Well, as part of the 2002 extension to the CBA, a pool of money was allocated for distribution to those players with minimum salaries who saw extensive playing time over the course of the year. Or said differently, guys that provided a huge return on investment to their clubs. Colon has been just that -- an amazing investment for the Steelers because of his durability.

Anyway, in my mind, there is no injury concern with Colon. He suffered a freak injury during OTAs when no pads were even on. And the good news, if there is such a thing with an awful injury like that, is that Colon suffered it in June, meaning he'll have had at least 14+ months of recovery. There's a danger of reaggravating the injury if you rush back to action, but the timetable is more or less perfect for a compelte recovery for Colon in '11.

So, again, Colon is the product of extreme bad luck when it comes to free agency. He was denied a well-deserved windfall after the '09 season, and now he'll likely be denied once more because of a totally random freak injury that really shouldn't have any long-term implications on his ability to play at a high level. At 28 years of age, Colon's window for signing that big contract is running out. This is his time to get paid. If I were Colon and his agent, I'd flat out refuse anything short of 3-years, $14m, $1m signing bonus, another $3.0m guaranteed

What I'd Do: I think Colon is worth keeping, and I think he's worth keeping at roughly the figures I laid out above.

3-years, $14m, $3-4m guaranteed.

The Rooneys are savvy shrewd businessmen, but they're also unwaveringly fair. Colon has three things going for him. He's (1) provided a remarkable ROI to the organization...(2) been a product of unfortunate circumstances (CBA + freak injury) after proving that he'd gotten over his early growing pains and was ready to play at a high level consistently...(3) proven to be locker room gold and one of the team's more popular well-respected guys.

http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/20 ... llie-colon (http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2011/2/12/1987420/pittsburgh-steelers-2011-free-agents-analysis-willie-colon)

hawaiiansteel
02-15-2011, 03:08 PM
Pittsburgh Steelers 2011 Free Agents Analysis: Trai Essex

by Michael Bean on Feb 15, 2011 12:01 AM EST

http://cdn0.sbnation.com/entry_photo_images/884431/76015_steelers_bills_football.jpg

Mike Groll - AP

Let's continue with our breakdown of the various Pittsburgh Steelers players who saw their contracts expire after the 2010 season. Next up is Trai Essex, a guy that's hard to assess -- at least in black or white terms. Let's try our best though.

2010 Salary: $800k

The back story: While doing a bit of research on Essex for this post, I was somewhat shocked to remember that he was a third-round draft pick back in 2005. Every draft pick in the NFL is a crap shoot to a certain degree, but you definitely hope that you bat a high percentage with your top picks, including those guys taken in the third round. It would be wildly unfair to say that Essex has been a 'bust' or not provided valuable contributions to the Steelers the past seven years. Heck, Essex even started four games as a rookie back in '05. He would not start another game until the '09 season, when the departure of Alan Faneca via free agency opened the door for the Northwestern grad to play. Essex would start all 16 games at right guard. This past season, he returned to his more natural reserve role, though he did start five games.

Essex's value lies in his versatility. He can fill in at four positions along the offensive line (center excluded). That's nothing to sneeze at. Look no further than Super Bowl XLV when Essex replaced Flozell Adams at right tackle for a few series after Adams hurt himself in the first quarter.

The BTSC Consensus: Again, the peanut gallery is split. A fair number of you would like the Steelers try to retain the versatile Essex for one or two years, while plenty others would prefer to cut ties with him after seven seasons.

What I'd do: I personally would not offer Essex a deal to return. If additional roster spots were added as part of a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, than forget what I just said. But assuming there's still just 53 roster spots available, I think it would make more sense to move on. At 28 years of age, Essex should be able to command a 2-3 year deal from some team, likely in the $650-800k per year range. Essex's last contract paid him nearly that much, and remember, that was coming off three straight seasons in which he did very little. This past two years Essex has played a lot more, and done a fairly good job when given a chance to play.

Furthermore, and perhaps more importantly, I think the Steelers have enough depth on the offensive line. The trick is adding one or two more really talented pieces. Between Ramon Foster, Doug Legursky, Chris Kemoeatu, and potentially a 2011 Draft pick, my take is that the guard position is in better shape than most realize. Legursky could be an X-factor actually, as he generally looked quite impressive -- be it at center or at guard -- in 2010. Throw in the dirt cheap Ramon Foster as a viable reserve at guard, and there's no real need to have a serviceable swing guy taking a hat on the depth chart. And that's even more true if the Steelers plan to draft a guard early on in the '11 Draft.

I'll save my commentary about how the pieces could be shuffled at offensive tackle, but as it relates to Essex, I'll just say that he's better suited to fill in at guard than on the outside. This Steelers offensive line has made the transition from 'bad' to 'good', or at worst 'average'. Now it's time to take the next big step(s) to becoming a 'very good' and hopefully even 'great' line. That's not going to happen by keeping guys like Essex around. I hate typing that because it's hard to understate how useful he's been in recent years. But now that the personnel has improved, and assuming the injury bug doesn't strike in such a malicious way in '11, the Steelers have less use for Essex -- a versatile asset, but one whose ceiling leaves plenty to be desired.

http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/20 ... trai-essex (http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2011/2/15/1994441/pittsburgh-steelers-2011-free-agents-analysis-trai-essex)

hawaiiansteel
02-15-2011, 03:12 PM
Pittsburgh Steelers 2011 Free Agents Analysis: Mewelde Moore

by Michael Bean on Feb 13, 2011 9:00 PM EST

http://cdn2.sbnation.com/entry_photo_images/881775/58466_ravens_steelers_football.jpg

More photos » Keith Srakocic - AP

Let's continue looking at the various Pittsburgh Steelers players whose contracts expired after the 2010 season. Once again, it's obviously somewhat pointless to speculate what may or may not happen with 2011 free agents while we wait to hear what new provisions might be added to free agency under the terms of a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. Nevertheless, we can likely assume that there were only be minor tweaks to the existing free agency system, so let's carry on with a discussion about Mewelde Moore and what his future might hold in Pittsburgh.

2010 Salary: $1.475 million

2010 Salary Cap Allocation: $1.975 million

The back story: Moore signed a three-year contract before the 2008 season to join the Pittsburgh Steelers. Mike Tomlin, who knew Moore from their time in Minnesota, recruited the versatile back to join him in Pittsburgh. After Rashard Mendenhall was lost for the season early in his rookie year, Moore proved to be an invaluable asset as Willie Parker struggled to stay healthy. Moore rushed the ball 140 times for 588 yards (4.2 ypc) and 5 TDs. He was also a receiving threat, catching 40 balls for 320 yards and 1 TD. Without Moore's contributions, I'm not sure the Steelers earn the No. 2 seed and in the '08 playoffs. Without those home games, the Steelers maybe don't get one for the other thumb.

Medenhall's return to the lineup in '09 relegated Moore back to third-down duties. He had just 35 attempts and was less successful with them, accumulating just t 118 yards (3.4 ypc). Moore was again a part of the passing game though, finishing with 21 receptions for 153 yards and 2 TDs.

After the '09 season, I thought there was a distinct possibility that Moore might get cut. Not because he was a terrible player or anything like that. I just thought that he was on the books for too much money in '10. He had a base salary of nearly 1.5m. Perhaps the fact that there was no salary cap in 2010 benefited Moore since the extra $500k cap allocation that would have usually counted against the team's salary cap didn't much matter. Perhaps though Tomlin and Bruce Arians put a high price tag on the fact that Moore was the only proven, reliable veteran behind Mendenhall on the running back depth chart. Mendenhall stayed healthy for the second consecutive year, and it was Isaac Redman, not Moore, who spelled Mendy sparingly throughout the season. His rushing attempts decreased to 31 last season. Moore did again contribute in the passing game, hauling in 26 passes for 205 yards.

The BTSC consensus: Late last week, I opened up the floor to you all to see what you thought the Steelers should do with their various free agents. Moore was one of the many players there was no real consensus on. A number of you thought he should be released with Redman and Jonathan Dwyer as viable options behind No. 34. Others thought he should be retained for one or two more years, but only if the price was right.

Moore's Estimated Market Value: Moore knows he's not going to command a lot of attention or a huge payday either in Pittsburgh in elsewhere. But for a guy that's not yet 29 years old and been a part of winning teams this past three years, it's also unrealistic to think that he can be retained for the veteran minimum. Considering that Chester Taylor signed a 4-year deal worth over $12m, including $7m in guarantees for the '10 season, it's just not likely that Moore won't garner some attention on the open market for teams looking for a steadying presence in their backfield.

My guess at what Moore could get paid outside of Pittsburgh is somewhere in the ballpark of 3 years, $7m, $2.5m guaranteed.

What I'd do: I, like the rest of Steeler Nation, am a big believer in Isaac Redman's ability to fill many of the roles that Moore handled in recent years. He's shown an aptitude for picking up third-and-short opportunities, proven he has solid hands catching the ball, done his job in pass-protection, and perhaps most importantly, not made any big mental miscues like fumbling the football. Therefore, I'd personally increase Redman's role significantly in '11, and roll the dice that neither he nor Mendenhall goes down with an injury for any extended period of time.

Let's be clear though. Guys like Mewelde Moore don't grow on trees. That might be hard to agree with considering that Moore lacks the ability to rattle off a huge play due to his limited speed. But in a league where wins and losses are decided by the thinnest of margins, having a guy like Moore (or Kevin Faulk) who (1) protects the football, (2) allows your starters to catch their breathe from time to time, and (3) knows what he and everyone of his teammates should be doing on all plays, all make him extremely valuable to an NFL coach.

Really this one likely comes down to whether Moore wants to remain in Pittsburgh with a team that's in great position to win this next couple of years. Moore is a big charity guy -- he and his wife have done great work with their foundation. On the one hand, that makes me believe that he might (understandably) want to cash as big a payday as possible as he approaches the age of 30. On the other hand, if the Moores have made a happy and complete transition from living in Minneapolis to Pittsburgh and would like to remain there for the foreseeable future, than maybe Moore is less inclined to uproot his family to chase a few more dollars in another market. We'll see, but regardless of what Moore decides, it will be for the right reasons -- to stay with a winning team in a city he enjoys living in and giving back to; or wanting to maximize his earning power while he can in order to better be able to serve others once his playing days are done.

So, with all that said, I'd offer Moore a deal that has (1) less guaranteed money...(2) is back-loaded in the final years which would allow the Steelers to release him at a later date.

How about: 3 years: $4.8m, $1m signing bonus. ( Year 1= $1m; Year 2 = $1.6m; Year 3 = $2.2m)

With a deal like that, it's hard to 'lose'. You either retain a steady hand for very little money, or know you've offered something reasonable in the event he signs elsewhere. If he does stay, the Steelers could then see if Jonathan Dwyer and Redman are indeed ready in '11. If they're not, Moore all of a sudden becomes well worth the cost not only in '11, but in '12 as well. He could then be released prior to the '13 season, unless he somehow looks to be every bit as fresh and physically capable as he has the last few seasons. And if he signs with a new team, you're saving money to distribute elsewhere, and at least feel somewhat confident that the rest of the depth chart at RB will be able to more than pick up the slack.

Anyway, you've got to figure that more money is going to be allocated for veterans under the new CBA, while the rookie pay scale is cut back. That should free up a little money to pay guys like Moore solid sums without committing too many resources on guys that have proven they'll provide a solid return on investment even if there's next to no chance they'll all of a sudden be game-changers.

http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/20 ... elde-moore (http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2011/2/13/1992039/pittsburgh-steelers-2011-free-agents-analysis-mewelde-moore)

hawaiiansteel
02-15-2011, 03:16 PM
Pittsburgh Steelers 2011 Free Agents Analysis: Jeremy Kapinos

by Michael Bean on Feb 13, 2011 11:59 PM EST

http://cdn0.sbnation.com/entry_photo_images/882063/gyi0063174730.jpg

Gregory Shamus - Getty Images

23 days ago: PITTSBURGH PA - JANUARY 23: Jamaal Westerman #55 of the New York Jets attempts to block a punt by Jeremy Kapinos #13 of the Pittsburgh Steelers and is called for roughing the kicker in the third quarter of the 2011 AFC Championship game at Heinz Field on January 23 2011 in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)


Onward with our tour of the 15 Pittsburgh Steelers players whose contracts expired after the team's 31-25 to the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XLV. In our first two posts, we've looked at two guys that have an interesting set of circumstances and factors to consider when thinking about their potential future in Pittsburgh. Let's turn our attention briefly to a player whose future is a little bit easier to figure: punter Jeremy Kapinos.

The back story: Kapinos, the league's worst punter in '09 while with the Packers, did just fine for the Steelers in relief of the injured Daniel Sepulveda. Kapinos joined the Steelers in Week 14 for the team's second tilt with the Cincinnati Bengals. The Penn State product was average at best in his first two games (his performance against the Jets in Week 15 contributed to the Steelers' late-season loss). But in Pittsburgh's final two contests, Kapinos averaged 45.3 and 56 yards per punt respectively. He was equally good in the playoffs, averaging over 48 yards per punt in his eight postseason kicks.

The BTSC Consensus: Most of you all believe that the Steelers should sign Kapinos to a meager one-year deal while waiting to see the injury status of Sepulveda. Wise, as this is major knee injury No. 2 that Robo-Punter has suffered since being drafted by the Steelers.

What I'd do: Nobody's going to bid for Kapinos' services, so offer Kapinos a bare-bones contract to compete with Sepulveda in Latrobe next year. How about we go with 1 year, $410,000, 30k signing bonus (as small thanks to a job well-done in '10 when the Steelers were in a bind)

http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/20 ... my-kapinos (http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2011/2/13/1992403/pittsburgh-steelers-2011-free-agents-analysis-jeremy-kapinos)

Crash
02-15-2011, 03:58 PM
Franchise tag Woodley.

Transition tag Ike.

If they can do that? Nothing else matters.

hawaiiansteel
02-15-2011, 05:42 PM
Franchise tag Woodley.

Transition tag Ike.

If they can do that? Nothing else matters.


but if Ike were to then receive an outrageous offer from another team we would have to match it or risk losing Ike with no compensation...

Crash
02-15-2011, 09:17 PM
but if Ike were to then receive an outrageous offer from another team we would have to match it or risk losing Ike with no compensation...

I'd rather have the right to match over a 5th round bonus pick, wouldn't you?

Dee Dub
02-15-2011, 11:40 PM
Franchise tag Woodley.

Transition tag Ike.

If they can do that? Nothing else matters.

Ok...but you havent solved the problem of how they will win the Super Bowl. This current team needs help. Just keeping Ike and Woodley isnt enough.

And please dont say sign Champ Bailey.

Crash
02-16-2011, 12:14 AM
The current team doesn't need that much help. My belief on defense is LeBeau needs to quit coaching scared against elite QBs and allow his playmakers to make plays.

He also needs to quit playing favorites. If he leaves Farrior out there on 3rd downs because he calls the defense guess what? Start COACHING and groom someone else to do it rather than rely on the aging status quo.

Chadman
02-16-2011, 12:36 AM
The addition of a quality CB or two that are good in man coverage would enable LeBeau to bring the blitz more effectively against 'spread offences'.

Crash isn't far from right- LeBeau needs to attack more against spread offenses- but he needs the cattle to do the job. McFadden & Gay are not the right cattle. Carlos Rogers & a high round rookie probably are.

Little additions (or big if you talk financial additions) take the Steelers achilles heel away & turn them into a much deadlier opponant.

hawaiiansteel
02-16-2011, 02:34 PM
Pittsburgh Steelers 2011 Free Agents Analysis: Shaun Suisham

by Michael Bean on Feb 15, 2011 9:29 PM EST

http://cdn2.sbnation.com/entry_photo_images/886263/75300_raiders_steelers_football.jpg

Keith Srakocic - AP


Onward with our breakdown of each and every player on the Pittsburgh Steelers whose contract expired after the 2010 season. Let's turn to kicker Shuan Suisham, the third special teams specialist who is a 2011 free agent (D. Sepulveda, J. Kapinos).

The back story: After the Week 10 debacle against the New England Patriots, Jeff Reed was released by the Steelers. Reed had struggled all season long, and though he had stayed out of trouble off the field, his whiny comments following the Patriots game sealed his fate. Very much in the thick of things at that point, the Steelers opted to cut their losses with the volatile Reed.

Shaun Suisham was hired off the street to assume the kicking duties for the remainder of the year. The former Washington Redskins kicker converted on all five of his PATs in the Steelers 35-3 drubbing of Oakland, then nailed all four of his field goal tries the following week in an overtime win against the Bills. Suisham wouldn't miss his first kick in the black and gold until Week 16 against the Panthers, a meaningless FG try before halftime in a game the Steelers had just about wrapped up before intermission anyway.

It was in the playoffs that Suisham struggled, missing field goals in both the Divisional Round against Baltimore and the Super Bowl against Green Bay. Suisham's miscues in the playoffs left a sour taste in the mouth of Steeler Nation, but the fact of the matter is had all of us been told that Suisham would perform the way he did in relief of Reed, we all would have happily taken it.

2010 Salary: undisclosed

2010 Stats: 14/15 FGs (93.3%), 19/19 PATs (100%), 3/5 postseason FGs (60%)

What I'd do: I would not attempt to re-sign Suisham. The Canadian born Suisham is by all accounts a really nice young man, and he exceeded expectations for the Steelers after being signed in December. Suisham wouldn't necessarily be expensive at all to retain, but what's the point really? There's guys like him waiting for a phone call year round. Hell, Suisham himself could very easily be available at the start of, or in the middle of next season. He'll likely get a camp invite somewhere, but who knows if he'll win a job.

Here's what I'd do instead. I'd use a draft pick on a talented college kicker. I plan on fleshing this idea out more, but in my mind, I don't think there's any way that such a high number of draft picks makes the roster this year. The Steelers have four picks from the '09 class on either the roster or practice squad, and eight from the '10 class. With all the veteran stalwarts surrounding the bevy of young talent, there's just not enough room for as many to make the squad this year. I'd say four at most. Obviously you've got to assume that the top two picks will contribute. Then you hope that one of the third or fourth rounders sticks. After that, it's going to be awfully tough to make the 2011 Steelers squad.

Unless you're a kicker.

I'd think about drafting Alex Henery out of Nebraska in either the fifth or sixth round. Henrey was great in college -- earning 1st Team All American honors his senior year, and finishing as the all-time leading scorer in school history. He's got loads more upside than a guy like Suisham, and were he to make the team, he'd also provide some insurance at the punter position because he handled those duties with aplomb as well.

Anyway, maybe I'll make the complete case for drafting Henery at a later date. As for Suisham, I'd kindly say farewell, and thank him for his important contributions to the Steelers run to Super Bowl XLV. Then it's time to turn to the task at hand -- finding a talented, long-term option at kicker, one of the more important positions in today's NFL.

http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/20 ... un-suisham (http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2011/2/15/1995697/pittsburgh-steelers-2011-free-agents-analysis-shaun-suisham)

hawaiiansteel
02-18-2011, 03:06 AM
Pittsburgh Steelers 2011 Free Agents Analysis: Doug Legursky

by Michael Bean on Feb 17, 2011 5:05 PM EST

http://cdn3.sbnation.com/entry_photo_images/890468/48139_steelers_camp_football.jpg

Keith Srakocic - AP

Pittsburgh Steelers nose tackle Chris Hoke, left, battles guard Doug Legursky in one-on-one drills at the team's NFL football training camp in Latrobe, Pa.


Let's continue with our overview of each and every Pittsburgh Steelers player whose contract expired after the 2010 season. We've got a number of guys to discuss whose future hinges on a number of interrelated and complicated factors. Here's one though that's not at all difficult to wrap our heads around: Doug Legursky.

The back story: Legursky joined the Steelers as an undrafted free agent rookie in 2008. Much to the chagrin of the infamous former BTSC reader Robert Ethan, Legursky didn't quite make it out of camp that year with a spot on the 53-man roster. The Marshall grad however was signed to the practice squad early in the '08 season after Marvel Smith was placed on IR with a back injury.

Legursky did make the team the following season in '09, appearing in 8 games with no starts. It wasn't until this past season that Legursky really had an opportunity to make an impression on his coaches, teammates and fans. Legursky played some at guard, was deployed in jumbo packages as a lead blocker around the goal line, and finally, filled in for the injured Maurkice Pouncey at center in the AFC Championship Game and Super Bowl. His performances against the Jets and Packers garnered solid reviews, and almost certainly cemented his status as someone the Steelers would like to bring back.

'Free' but not really:

Though Legursky is a free agent, he's not really free at all. Why? Because he's an Exclusive Rights Free Agent, which means he has no more than two accrued NFL seasons. ERFAs can only sign with their prior team, provided the team makes a qualifying minimum offer. In other words, unpack your bags Mr. Legursky, you're hanging around the 'Burgh for at least another season. The question though is whether or not the Steelers decide to offer more than just the bare-bones one-year minimum deal to Legursky. I doubt it, but it's a possibility for sure since he'd only become more expensive to retain once he became a restricted free agent after this season.

What I'd do: I've seen this idea thrown around, but would it make sense to maybe use Legursky at center and Pouncey at right guard? That would give the Steelers a pretty solid interior to their offensive line in '11. Even if the Steelers do draft a guard early on in this year's draft, it's not a slam dunk that he'd be ready and able to play at a high level as a rookie. Maybe, maybe not. We know though that Legursky can hold his own, and I doubt Pouncey would struggle too much making the transition to guard. Perhaps in '11 you move Pouncey back to center and roll with your second-year guard then?

Not likely, I know. So what about Legursky's value at guard? It's harder to say. What we do know is that the dude is strong as an ox, and pretty darn nimble and quick to boot. Legursky set weight room records at Marshall in the squat (705 lbs) and hang clean (430 pounds). Ridiculous. And to think he's probably gotten even stronger and certainly more agile, flexible and explosive since joining the Steelers.

Color me a believer be it at center or guard. He'll turn 25 this summer meaning he's young and inexperienced enough still to believe that his best football is ahead of him, yet old enough now to have learned the nuanced mental aspect of his craft since leaving college.

Even if Legursky is a guy the Steelers believe in, I suppose there's no reason to offer him more than a one-year minimum deal, which would be somewhere in the 400-500k range I believe. I would tell Legursky to work hard this offseason, whoop some ass in camp and the preseason, earn a helmet, and a nice two-year extension is his at some point early in the '11 season.

http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/20 ... g-legursky (http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2011/2/17/1999573/pittsburgh-steelers-2011-free-agents-analysis-doug-legursky)

RuthlessBurgher
02-18-2011, 04:35 PM
I think Legursky becomes the offensive version of Chris Hoke. Unheralded UDFA whose body type doesn't fit the typical players at his position, but yet he is effective when used in a backup reserve role. I don't want to count on Hoke or Legursky to be my long-term starter, but I'm not worried about a monumental dropoff when they do need to fill in on occasion.

hawaiiansteel
02-18-2011, 05:09 PM
February 16 2011

Steelers Decide to Play Waiting Game With Free Agents

By J.J. Cooper


The Steelers are apparently waiting to see what a new collective bargaining agreement brings before worrying about resigning their relatively long list of free agents.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that left tackle Jonathan Scott is the only one of the Steelers' 14 potentially unrestricted free agents that the team has opened negotiations with.

(ESPN's Adam Schefter has reported that the Steelers have also placed the franchise tag on outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley to ensure that he will remain a Steeler.)

The lack of a new collective bargaining agreement has made things difficult for all teams and players. Without any firm information about the makeup of the new rules, teams do not know if there will be a salary cap (or how the rules of the salary cap will be determined) or even how many years of service a player needs to be an unrestricted free agent. The franchise tags are potentially just as confusing -- while the Steelers may decide to franchise Woodley, there is no guarantee that the new CBA will even include franchise tags.

But the Steelers decision to largely wait on contract talks will make it even tougher to keep some key members of the Steelers AFC championship club -- like Ike Taylor and William Gay -- when the new CBA is reached.

http://nfl.fanhouse.com/2011/02/16/s...h-free-agents/

hawaiiansteel
02-24-2011, 02:31 AM
Steelers Free Agency

By Kiley Fischer | Mon, 02/21/2011


With LaMarr Woodley having received the franchise tag, cornerback Ike Taylor is the most prominent of 17 remaining Steelers free agents. Here's a look at the most critical.

http://www.pittsburghsportsreport.com/PSR/sites/default/files/imagecache/lead-image-full/Pure%20Steel_Free%20Agents_Taylor%20and%20MundyGR0 L1147.jpg

CB Ike Taylor
When the Steelers didn't offer an extension last off-season, it appeared as though they were ready to like Taylor walk. But with only three corners under contract and no cldar replacement on the roster, Taylor may be in for a nice payday without having to change uniforms.

CB William Gay
Forty-eight tackles, two sacks, and 11 passes defended proved Gay's worth as a nickleback in his fourth NFL season. The 26-year-old cornerback also forced a fumble against Buffalo this season. He's not an NFL starter buth with only three corners under contract, don't rule out his return.

RB Mewelde Moore
Moore still a good receiver out of the backfield, provides depth in the return-game and is better in blitz pick-up than any other Steelers back. His return will be a financial decision based on the other available options - for both the team and Moore.

QB Dennis Dixon
With Ben Roethlisberger suspended and Byron Leftwich hurt, Dixon's two starts (prior to his ankle injury) this season may have amounted to an audition for other NFL teams. However, with an aging Charlie Batch as the only other quarterback on the roster, Dixon could challenge Leftwich for the back-up job if he returns.

http://www.pittsburghsportsreport.com/PSR/sites/default/files/PURE%20STEEL_Free%20Agents_Willie%20Colon.jpg

OT Willie Colon
The offensive tackle never set foot on the field with the Steelers this season as he suffered a torn Achilles tendon in June while working out. However, Colon blossomed into the team's best lineman (before Maurkice Pouncey was drafted) since he filled in for Max Starks in Weeks 16 and 17 of the 2006 season. He actually traveled with the team throughout the 2011 season and with an offensive line that has been decimated by injury, expect the team to try to keep Colon.

OG/OT Trai Essex
The fact that Essex was unable to emerge as a starter this season despite injuries at every position aside from center should be considered the writing on the wall. He is unlikely to return.

OT Jonathan Scott
In his first year with Pittsburgh, Scott played all 16 regular season games and started in nine after Max Starks was lost to injury. He's best utilized in a back-up role and if willie Colon is healthy he could be back for another one-year deal.

OT Tony Hills
Hills didn't dress very often in his third season despite the fact that the Steelers were ravaged by injury at tackle.

P Daniel Sepulveda
After signing a one-year deal last April, Sepulveda posted an average of 45.5 yards on 56 punts. Sepulveda was placed on injured reserve after tearing his ACL against the Baltimore Ravens, and he was missed dearly after the injury. But the soundness of the knee is a major question after three tears in six years.

TE Matt Spaeth
With 14 games and 13 starts, the tight end notched 9 receptions for 80 yards and 1 touchdown. Spaeth missed Weeks 12 and 13 against the Bills and the Ravens with a concussion.

DE Nick Eason
While Eason might not have started every game, he has played in every one this season. The fourth-year Steelers’ defensive end has contributed 16 tackles and 1.5 sacks.

http://www.pittsburghsportsreport.com/PSR/sites/default/files/Pure%20Steel_Free%20Agents_HokeGR0L0813.jpg

DT Chris Hoke
He'll be 35 next season but still provided solid depth behind Casey Hampton. If he doesn't retire, it's not hard to imagine Hoke signing a one-year deal in Pittsburgh.

http://www.pittsburghsportsreport.com/PSR/node/1447

hawaiiansteel
02-24-2011, 07:57 PM
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 24, 2011

Steelers readying for free agency


The NFL Network reported today that the Steelers won't use a transition tag on any players, including cornerback Ike Taylor, prior to the deadline to do so.

That means that if/when free agency opens up, Taylor will be an unrestricted free agent.

Cue the teeth gnashing.

But nobody knows what free agency will be like if/when a new CBA is put in place. The Steelers wanted to protect themselves with LaMarr Woodley, hence the franchise tag they used on the linebacker.

But a transition tag has proven to be all but worthless over the years, offering little resistance to players moving about thanks to "poison pills" that some teams put in contract offers to keep their offer from being matched.

The bottom line is that Taylor, even if he gets an offer from another team, will more than likely give the Steelers a chance to match it or at least come close. Taylor doesn't want to leave Pittsburgh, especially after seeing what happened to Bryant McFadden in Arizona.

Willie Colon's agent told the Post Gazette that the tackle has probably played his last game in Pittsburgh, but that's posturing.

It remains to be seen how much money a player coming off an Achilles' tendon injury can command on the open market.

And it will be a wide open market, with more than 600 players scheduled to hit free agency if/when it happens. We also don't know what kind of cap will be in place – if any. It could be more than it was in 2009, the last capped year. It could be less.

The bottom line is that right now, there is a whole lot that nobody knows when it comes to free agency this year.

posted by Dale Lolley


TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 22, 2011

More draft tidbits

NFLDraftScout.com sent me its pre-combine top 250 players.

Space does not permit me to list the entire thing, but I did take a close look at the top 50, which would roughly be the top two tiers of players.

Each draft has its 10 to 15 studs and then you can usually throw a blanket over the next 35 to 40 picks – beauty is in the eye of the beholder:

In that 25 to 40 range, you're looking at 25. Derek Sherrod, the offensive tackle from Missssippi State; 27. Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado; 29. Brandon Harris, CB, Miami; 30. Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio State; 31. Mike Pouncey, G, Florida; 33. Aaron Williams, CB, Texas; 34. Danny Watkins, G, Baylor; 36. Stephen Paea, DT, Oregon State

Obviously, things can change depending on how a guy works out, but there's some solid football players at need positions for the Steelers. I don't think Paea would fit in the Steelers' scheme as a nose tackle, but he's quick enough to play end - ala. Kemo von Oelhoffen.

http://nflfromthesidelines.blogspot.com/

RuthlessBurgher
02-24-2011, 08:53 PM
In that 25 to 40 range, you're looking at 25. Derek Sherrod, the offensive tackle from Missssippi State; 27. Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado; 29. Brandon Harris, CB, Miami; 30. Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio State; 31. Mike Pouncey, G, Florida; 33. Aaron Williams, CB, Texas; 34. Danny Watkins, G, Baylor; 36. Stephen Paea, DT, Oregon State


Would anyone be horribly upset if we drafted any of those guys?

I have my favorites just like everyone else, but other than the last two, Watkins (it is impressive how far this Canadian kid has come in only 4 years of organized football, but I would hate to spend a 1st round pick on a 26 year old) and Paea (I like him as a player, but not for us...he's the height of a 3-4 NT but about 40 lbs. too light...he's the weight of a 3-4 DE but about 4 inches too short), I wouldn't necessarily complain about any of them.

hawaiiansteel
02-27-2011, 10:39 PM
Pittsburgh Steelers 2011 Free Agents Analysis: Ike Taylor

by Michael Bean on Feb 27, 2011

http://cdn0.sbnation.com/entry_photo_images/913065/gyi0061361777.jpg

Nick Laham - Getty Images


It's been a week or so since writing about one of the many Pittsburgh Steelers players who are free agents in 2011. Let's get back to it with a discussion about arguably the most high-profile and important free agent in the crop -- cornerback Ike Taylor.

2010 Salary: $3.75 million

The back story: There's been plenty of conversation about Taylor's situation and future here on BTSC the past few weeks, so I'll try to keep things relatively brief. But the bottom line is it doesn't look overly likely that Taylor will be back in Pittsburgh for 2011 and beyond. Why? Well, In yesterday's six pack, I mentioned that the Steelers decided to not use the Transition Tag on Ike Taylor prior to February 25th deadline. Consequently, the Steelers no longer have exclusive rights to Taylor in free agency, whenever that may occur in the near or intermediate future.

That wouldn't necessarily lead me to say that the chances of re-signing him are unlikely. What concerns me though is the voices in his ear reminding him that he's one of the NFL's best cornerbacks, and that it's about time he started being treated (read: paid) like one. That begins and ends with his agent Joel Segal, who not long ago negotiated a six-year, $54 million contract for CB DeAngelo Hall with the Washington Redskins in the wake of Hall being bounced out of Oakland less than a year into his $70m deal with the Raiders.

Of course, it's par for the course for an agent to try to broker the best deals possible for his clients -- the bigger the contract, the higher the commission. What we haven't heard from Taylor though -- at least not to my knowledge -- is that he'd like to be back in Pittsburgh. We've heard that from LaMarr Woodley, who in my estimation was also in line for a massive contract on the open market had he gotten there. In fact, Taylor's even said that 'this is a good time for him to be a free agent.' I take that as him meaning he's going to chase the dollars rather than accept slightly less to remain with the team that drafted him out of Louisiana Lafayette in the 4th round of the 2003 Draft. Back in '06, Taylor publicly stated his interest to remain in Pittsburgh. Again, I could have easily missed it, but I haven't heard similar comments this go around.

That's conjecture on my part, no doubt. But how could you blame Taylor if that were indeed his position heading into free agency? I mean, some CB named Stanford Routt just inked a three-year $31.5 million deal with the Raiders, $20m of which is guaranteed. Stanford who? Taylor meanwhile made only slightly more than that over the past five years ($22.5m).

Also quoted in John Harris' Trib article is Dave-Te' Thomas, the director of operations for Scouting Services Inc., a company that apparently works closely with all but five NFL teams. Here's what Thomas had to say about Taylor and what the interest level will be for him on the open market:

"I think the front office has taken him for granted and thinks it can get a hometown discount," said Dave-Te' Thomas, the director of operations for Scouting Services Inc., a company used by 27 of the NFL's 32 teams. "Let Taylor walk, and watch the (New York) Giants, (Houston) Texans, Carolina (Panthers) and New Orleans (Saints) get in a bidding war for him."

Thomas, who also is the league's official biographer and authors the NFL Draft Report, introduced Taylor to scouts coming out of Louisiana-Lafayette. Thomas' studies of every team and his assessment of Taylor's game and its relation to the Steelers tells him the franchise made a mistake when it permitted Taylor to become a free agent.


What I'd Do: I'd love to see Taylor back in the black and gold for the remainder of his career, but I don't think that's happening. I do though think that there's a way to retain him for the next few seasons. I've heard you all discuss whether the Steelers are in a window of opportunity to realistically make another run or two back to the Super Bowl. My take? Hell yes we are. I wrote time and time again back during the '08 SB run that what was so exciting was that the Steelers were not really positioned for a deep run that year..Not on paper at least. I believed their peak window for dominance would be 2010-2012 when Roethlisberger had really matured as a QB, the defense still had the lion's share of its dominant veteran pieces, and the offense had a few years to improve its offensive line and add weapons to compliment Hines Ward, Heath Miller and Rashard Mendenhall.

These next two years could be special for the Steelers. Without Ike Taylor though, it will be a significantly tougher challenge. LaMarr Woodley is a remarkable talent, but I'd be far more confident in some unproven youngster(s) finding a way to replace a decent chunk of Woodley's production than I would be in replacing Taylor in '11.

As important as I think it is to have Taylor back in '11 and '12 given the specific state of the Steelers secondary, I still wouldn't consider over-extending to retain him in a high stakes bidding war with teams willing to offer a 5-6 year deal in the $50-$60m range. What I would do though is offer a short-term but high figure deal that pays Taylor in line with the game's best CBs. Something in the, say, 3-year $33m range, structured in a way that guarantees Taylor loads of money in the first two years but also allows the Steelers to cut Taylor after '12 without incurring a significant financial loss. Because Taylor's so dang durable, I'd probably even prefer a 2-year deal in the high-20s, with as much as 75-80 percent of it guaranteed.

One might wonder why Taylor would consider signing a short-term deal at the age of 30? Well, he may not. But Champ Bailey, who will turn 33 this july, did just sign a four-year $43 million deal that includes $22 million in guaranteed money. Taylor is famous for his legendary offseason conditioning programs, so it's not unreasonable to think that he'll continue to play at a high level and remain durable for another six years. That means he could conceivably ink another hefty contract like Bailey in a few short years after helping the Steelers win a third Super Bowl championship since entering the league.

http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/20 ... #storyjump (http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2011/2/27/2019373/pittsburgh-steelers-2011-free-agents-analysis-ike-taylor#storyjump)

hawaiiansteel
03-07-2011, 03:09 AM
Steelers 2011 Free Agents Player Analysis: Tony Hills

Sunday, March 06, 2011

2010 Salary Estimation: $470,000 Base - $572,000 Cap Charge

http://www2.pictures.zimbio.com/gi/Pittsburgh+Steelers+v+New+York+Giants+XRviLJR845zl .jpg

Analysis: As the labor situation draws on, we continue on now with our breakdown player by player of each of the Steelers free agents. Next up for analysis is tackle Tony Hills. Hills as been a huge disappointment since the Steelers drafted him in the 4th round of the 2008 draft out of Texas. While he seemed to make some improvements during a few preseason games, it was only a mirage. Hills received a chance early on in 2010 when left tackle Max Starks left the week 2 game against the Titans with an ankle injury.

Hills replaced Starks at left tackle and played almost 30 snaps there. Hills was not up to the task as both his pass and run blocking were not up to the standard. In that game, Hills allowed a sack, a pressure and a quarterback hit. The Steelers won the game, but Hills performance was not good. We would have to wait until week 10 to see Hills get on the field again as he saw 14 snaps at right tackle late in the blow-out loss to the Patriots. Most of his playing time late in that game was pass blocking against only a 3 or 4 man rush as the Patriots played mostly a prevent defense.

When drafted, the Steelers hoped Hills would become a reliable back up left tackle and perhaps a swing tackle. He struggles with his heavy feet and has trouble protecting the edges. He does not work good in space as a tackle should and the Steelers have had plenty of patience with him since he was drafted. He just is not NFL tackle material.

Future: Hills has been tendered a one year deal as a restricted free agent for 2011 and it is highly unlikely any other team will now go after him in free agency. This means Hills will likely be back in camp with the Steelers in 2011, but that is where all guarantees end. Hills will have plenty of competition for a spot on the 2011 roster and at a tender price tag of around $1.2 million, he needs to be head and shoulders above that competition if he is to make the roster. The Steelers will likely only keep 9 or 10 linemen and with them expected to draft at least one if not two linemen in the draft, his chances of making the team already look bad. Hills best shot perhaps is on the right side as a backup, but that is a long shot at best. Do not place any bets that Hills will be with the Steelers past training camp. The free one year tender is merely a way to give him one last shot in camp so do not confuse it as anything else. He is down to his last chance.

http://www.steelersdepot.com/2011/03/st ... ony-hills/ (http://www.steelersdepot.com/2011/03/steelers-2011-free-agents-player-analysis-tony-hills/)

hawaiiansteel
03-07-2011, 03:15 AM
Steelers 2011 Free Agents Player Analysis: Greg Warren

Long Snapper Greg Warren - Steelers 2011 Free Agent

2010 Salary Estimation: $700,000 Base - $832,000 Cap Charge


Analysis: Picking up steam now with our breakdown player by player of each of the Steelers 18 free agents and up next up for analysis is long snapper Greg Warren. In 2010 you did not hear the name of Greg Warren mentioned that much and that is a good thing as a great majority of his snaps on field goals, extra points and punts were right on the money. Warren only had 1 tackle in 2010 on special teams and 1 assist. The Steelers brought in competition late in the 2010 training camp in the form of Matt Stewart, but Warren was able to hold onto his job once again.

There were concerns about Warren's health enetring camp, and new special teams coach Al Everest said he had to alter Warren's stance and footwork, which had gotten out of whack after the surgeries to both of Warren's knees over the last two seasons. Warren managed to stay healthy in 2010 after missing time the two previous years and has been the Steelers long snapper since winning the job out of training camp in 2005 as an undrafted free agent.

Future: One would figure that the Steelers would want Warren back again in 2011, but Warren could very well get a better or longer deal in free agency as well. If he is signed back by the Steelers when free agency starts, he is almost certain to have competition from a younger and cheaper alternative in training camp. If a young undrafted tight end, that can long snap, emerges after the draft, it may turn the Steelers head because of his versatility, but that is yet to be seen and mere speculation. Based on his years accrued and experience, Warren will likely command a salary of around a million a season including signing bonus. The Steelers will now wait until free agency gets going before addressing the rest of their unrestricted free agents they want back and Warren will be way down the priority list. It would not surprise me either way if Warren was brought back on a one or two year deal or if he signed with another team. I say 50/50 with him right now of him being back, but could think of worse ways to spend a million dollars on a roster spot. Warren has been reliable when on the field and one less important position to worry about.

http://www.steelersdepot.com/2011/03/st ... eg-warren/ (http://www.steelersdepot.com/2011/03/steelers-2011-free-agents-player-analysis-greg-warren/)

drprwnap
03-07-2011, 10:00 AM
Behind the Steel Curtain is doing an analysis of each of the Steelers' free agents, I will add in the new ones to this thread as they are released. here are the four they have posted so far, starting with Willie Colon.


Pittsburgh Steelers 2011 Free Agents Analysis: Willie Colon

by Michael Bean on Feb 12, 2011

http://cdn1.sbnation.com/entry_photo_images/879515/gyi0063276512.jpg

Ronald Martinez - Getty Images

2010 Salary: $2,204,240

The back story: Willie Colon entered the NFL in 2006 as a 4th round project out of the University of Hofstra. Born in the Bronx, a rough and tumble urban environment where basketball reigns supreme, Colon was obviously a late bloomer in terms of his exposure to high level competition on the gridiron. The result was extreme struggles early on in his career with the Steelers. After starting two games in his rookie season, Colon was named the full time starter at right tackle in 2007. Even though Max Starks had starting experience on a Super Bowl winning team in '05, Colon got the nod. At the time (yes, I was writing back then), I wondered if the Steelers were decided to start Colon over Starks for financial reasons. Basically Starks' contract was coming up, and if he played an integral role on that '07 team at right tackle, he'd be pretty expensive to retain in free agency. Meanwhile the Steelers wouldn't really know what they had in Colon.

Anyway, Colon struggled in '07 and '08. So badly in fact that he became the poster boy for the offensive line's struggles.

Most of the criticism was deserved, though folks were perhaps too unforgiving of the fact that he'd never in his life come close to facing the caliber of athletic talent that each NFL team has during his high school and collegiate days. In '09, Colon turned the corner. He wasn't perfect, but he improved dramatically, and by season's end was widely regarded as the team's best offensive lineman.

Unfortunately for Colon, sheer bad luck stood in the way of him signing an unrestricted free agent deal at about this time last year. Under the provisions of the last CBA, Colon's four years of service were no longer enough to qualify him for URFA status. Instead, Colon had to sign a one-year RFA deal last offseason that paid him a nice sum. But make no mistake about it: had Colon entered the league just one year earlier and qualified for URFA after the '09 season, he would have been able to find a suitor willing to offer a multi-year deal in the eight digits, with perhaps as much as $10-$15 million in guarantees.

The BTSC Consensus: Well, there wasn't exactly the same type of consensus amongst you all about what should be done with Colon moving forward. Some thought he should be re-signed; many others thoughts it was time to let him walk. However, the common them I kept reading was something along the lines of: 'let's see how he is injury-wise before offering up any sort of long-term deal.' Well, that's somewhat fair and understandable, but it's also flat-out ignoring the facts. Colon had been one of the asbolute most durable guys on the team and entire NFL from '07-'09. He made 48 consecutive starts in those three seasons, missing not even a single game. He also started all four of the Steelers postseason games during that stretch.

In fact, following the '07 season, Colon earned the top figure in the NFL’s "Performance-Based Pay" system that awards lower-salaried players for playing time. What's that you ask? Well, as part of the 2002 extension to the CBA, a pool of money was allocated for distribution to those players with minimum salaries who saw extensive playing time over the course of the year. Or said differently, guys that provided a huge return on investment to their clubs. Colon has been just that -- an amazing investment for the Steelers because of his durability.

Anyway, in my mind, there is no injury concern with Colon. He suffered a freak injury during OTAs when no pads were even on. And the good news, if there is such a thing with an awful injury like that, is that Colon suffered it in June, meaning he'll have had at least 14+ months of recovery. There's a danger of reaggravating the injury if you rush back to action, but the timetable is more or less perfect for a compelte recovery for Colon in '11.

So, again, Colon is the product of extreme bad luck when it comes to free agency. He was denied a well-deserved windfall after the '09 season, and now he'll likely be denied once more because of a totally random freak injury that really shouldn't have any long-term implications on his ability to play at a high level. At 28 years of age, Colon's window for signing that big contract is running out. This is his time to get paid. If I were Colon and his agent, I'd flat out refuse anything short of 3-years, $14m, $1m signing bonus, another $3.0m guaranteed

What I'd Do: I think Colon is worth keeping, and I think he's worth keeping at roughly the figures I laid out above.

3-years, $14m, $3-4m guaranteed.

The Rooneys are savvy shrewd businessmen, but they're also unwaveringly fair. Colon has three things going for him. He's (1) provided a remarkable ROI to the organization...(2) been a product of unfortunate circumstances (CBA + freak injury) after proving that he'd gotten over his early growing pains and was ready to play at a high level consistently...(3) proven to be locker room gold and one of the team's more popular well-respected guys.

http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/20 ... llie-colon (http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2011/2/12/1987420/pittsburgh-steelers-2011-free-agents-analysis-willie-colon)

Oviedo
03-07-2011, 12:11 PM
Behind the Steel Curtain is doing an analysis of each of the Steelers' free agents, I will add in the new ones to this thread as they are released. here are the four they have posted so far, starting with Willie Colon.


Pittsburgh Steelers 2011 Free Agents Analysis: Willie Colon

by Michael Bean on Feb 12, 2011

http://cdn1.sbnation.com/entry_photo_images/879515/gyi0063276512.jpg

Ronald Martinez - Getty Images

2010 Salary: $2,204,240

The back story: Willie Colon entered the NFL in 2006 as a 4th round project out of the University of Hofstra. Born in the Bronx, a rough and tumble urban environment where basketball reigns supreme, Colon was obviously a late bloomer in terms of his exposure to high level competition on the gridiron. The result was extreme struggles early on in his career with the Steelers. After starting two games in his rookie season, Colon was named the full time starter at right tackle in 2007. Even though Max Starks had starting experience on a Super Bowl winning team in '05, Colon got the nod. At the time (yes, I was writing back then), I wondered if the Steelers were decided to start Colon over Starks for financial reasons. Basically Starks' contract was coming up, and if he played an integral role on that '07 team at right tackle, he'd be pretty expensive to retain in free agency. Meanwhile the Steelers wouldn't really know what they had in Colon.

Anyway, Colon struggled in '07 and '08. So badly in fact that he became the poster boy for the offensive line's struggles.

Most of the criticism was deserved, though folks were perhaps too unforgiving of the fact that he'd never in his life come close to facing the caliber of athletic talent that each NFL team has during his high school and collegiate days. In '09, Colon turned the corner. He wasn't perfect, but he improved dramatically, and by season's end was widely regarded as the team's best offensive lineman.

Unfortunately for Colon, sheer bad luck stood in the way of him signing an unrestricted free agent deal at about this time last year. Under the provisions of the last CBA, Colon's four years of service were no longer enough to qualify him for URFA status. Instead, Colon had to sign a one-year RFA deal last offseason that paid him a nice sum. But make no mistake about it: had Colon entered the league just one year earlier and qualified for URFA after the '09 season, he would have been able to find a suitor willing to offer a multi-year deal in the eight digits, with perhaps as much as $10-$15 million in guarantees.

The BTSC Consensus: Well, there wasn't exactly the same type of consensus amongst you all about what should be done with Colon moving forward. Some thought he should be re-signed; many others thoughts it was time to let him walk. However, the common them I kept reading was something along the lines of: 'let's see how he is injury-wise before offering up any sort of long-term deal.' Well, that's somewhat fair and understandable, but it's also flat-out ignoring the facts. Colon had been one of the asbolute most durable guys on the team and entire NFL from '07-'09. He made 48 consecutive starts in those three seasons, missing not even a single game. He also started all four of the Steelers postseason games during that stretch.

In fact, following the '07 season, Colon earned the top figure in the NFL’s "Performance-Based Pay" system that awards lower-salaried players for playing time. What's that you ask? Well, as part of the 2002 extension to the CBA, a pool of money was allocated for distribution to those players with minimum salaries who saw extensive playing time over the course of the year. Or said differently, guys that provided a huge return on investment to their clubs. Colon has been just that -- an amazing investment for the Steelers because of his durability.

Anyway, in my mind, there is no injury concern with Colon. He suffered a freak injury during OTAs when no pads were even on. And the good news, if there is such a thing with an awful injury like that, is that Colon suffered it in June, meaning he'll have had at least 14+ months of recovery. There's a danger of reaggravating the injury if you rush back to action, but the timetable is more or less perfect for a compelte recovery for Colon in '11.

So, again, Colon is the product of extreme bad luck when it comes to free agency. He was denied a well-deserved windfall after the '09 season, and now he'll likely be denied once more because of a totally random freak injury that really shouldn't have any long-term implications on his ability to play at a high level. At 28 years of age, Colon's window for signing that big contract is running out. This is his time to get paid. If I were Colon and his agent, I'd flat out refuse anything short of 3-years, $14m, $1m signing bonus, another $3.0m guaranteed

What I'd Do: I think Colon is worth keeping, and I think he's worth keeping at roughly the figures I laid out above.

3-years, $14m, $3-4m guaranteed.

The Rooneys are savvy shrewd businessmen, but they're also unwaveringly fair. Colon has three things going for him. He's (1) provided a remarkable ROI to the organization...(2) been a product of unfortunate circumstances (CBA + freak injury) after proving that he'd gotten over his early growing pains and was ready to play at a high level consistently...(3) proven to be locker room gold and one of the team's more popular well-respected guys.

http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/20 ... llie-colon (http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2011/2/12/1987420/pittsburgh-steelers-2011-free-agents-analysis-willie-colon)

I'd like to keep Colon but I'm one of those who think that Colon could be an outstanding Guard but will never be that at Right Tackle. He just can't handle the outside speed rush but he does have the power and run blocking ability to be a great Guard.

hawaiiansteel
03-09-2011, 05:02 PM
Pittsburgh Steelers 2011 Free Agents Analysis: Dennis Dixon

by Michael Bean on Mar 9, 2011

http://cdn1.sbnation.com/entry_photo_images/937666/70092_falcons_steelers_football.jpg

It's been a few days since we discussed the potential future of a Steelers player whose contract expired after the 2010 season. Free Agency is officially on hold as of last week while a new Collective Bargaining Agreement is negotiated. So we won't hear any more news on the free agency front until a new CBA is ultimately reached. But that doesn't mean we can't do our best to speculate about what might happen with certain players. So let's do just that with reserve quarterback Dennis Dixon, who the Steelers tendered last week.

2010 salary: $470,000

The back story: 2010 was supposed to be Dennis Dixon's time to shine. With Ben Roethlisberger suspended for the first four games of the year, Dixon hoped to cement his status as a viable starting candidate option in the National Football League. He was ultimately named the starter over veteran Byron Leftwich at the end of last summer's training camp, but a knee injury early in the Steelers' Week 2 game against the Titans derailed his season and any hopes he had of being a starting quarterback somewhere in 2011.

With just three years of service under his belt, Dixon almost assuredly will still be a restricted free agent under the provisions of a new CBA. The Steelers offered an existing round tender to Dixon last week. Will another team be willing to surrender a low draft pick to acquire Dixon? Not likely because of the injury he suffered and his subsequent inability to prove himself last year. But stranger things have happened I suppose.

What I'd Do: You can't figure that the Steelers will face the same sort of unique circumstances at the QB position in 2011, which makes the choice of who to keep behind Roethlisberger a bit tricky. Do you roll with Byron Leftwich who has a year left on his contract, and then have Charlie Batch serve as the emergency No. 3 option? Do you have Leftwich and Dixon battle it out for the backup spot and cut the loser of the camp competition? Surely you don't keep all four around, but is there a way to keep Batch in the fold without designating any sort of spot for him officially unless he's needed?

http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/20 ... #storyjump (http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2011/3/9/2040219/pittsburgh-steelers-2011-free-agents-analysis-dennis-dixon-nfl-lockout-cba-negotiations#storyjump)

hawaiiansteel
03-09-2011, 09:21 PM
Pittsburgh Steelers' Free-Agent Breakdown

By Chris G. (Steelers Featured Columnist) on March 8, 2011


The lack of a CBA between the NFL owners and players has put free agency on hold, leaving much speculation as to what the Pittsburgh Steelers have planned once an agreement is finally reached.

Pittsburgh didn’t sit back completely, applying the franchise tag to LaMarr Woodley and tendered multiple players who are currently considered restricted free agents (though that may change).

Players tendered included William Gay, Matt Spaeth, Dennis Dixon and Tony Hills. Another interesting player in this group was Willie Colon.

Colon, who is coming off of an Achilles tendon injury, has never been offered a long-term contract by the Steelers despite starting at right tackle.

After his offseason injury, Colon was replaced by veteran Flozell Adams, who signed a two-year contract with the Steelers. Once Adams got settled into the lineup, he played at a fairly high level and looks to be a viable option to start at right tackle next season.

What does that mean for Colon? Pittsburgh could potentially have him compete with Adams for the starting right tackle spot or even slide him over to right guard, which remains a gaping hole along the offensive line.

The tender may end up being meaningless depending on the terms of the new CBA. Colon, and other restricted free agents, may then become unrestricted free agents.

Beyond Colon, Gay was the only tendered free agent who sees significant playing time on a weekly basis.

Gay has started and played in the nickel role while with the Steelers and while many fans are ready to run him out of town, which may not be the best decision.

Though he is not a starter, Gay is a fine nickel back who could be even better if Pittsburgh had two legitimate starting cornerbacks.

Regardless, Gay has a role on the team and there is no immediate replacement and he should be re-signed.

The other key role player in the group of tendered players is Spaeth.

It spot duty as a starter this past season when Heath Miller was out due to injury, Spaeth was a liability. Key dropped passes could have made the difference in the Steelers' regular season loss to the New York Jets.

Spaeth has proven not to be a good blocker either and in the two tight end sets, Pittsburgh often depended upon their tight ends to help out their linemen. It looks to be time to move on from Spaeth if they find a viable candidate to take over the number two slot.

Dixon and Hills both flashed potential in training camp last season, however in game action the results were not there. Dixon will compete with Byron Leftwich for the backup spot and Hills will be fighting for a roster spot.

The rest of the free agent crop includes a number of key contributors and one very important player in the defense.

On offense, Mewelde Moore and Trai Essex will both be entering free agency without much fanfare.

Moore has served the Steelers well, but with Isaac Redman coming on, he has become expendable and the Steelers can go with Redman and Jonathan Dwyer behind Rashard Mendenhall or look to the draft or free agency to add depth to the position.

Essex is a more interesting player. He started at right guard and then lost his starting position, but has proved to be a valuable swingman over the course of his career.

Offensive line coach Sean Kugler brought Jonathan Scott with him from Buffalo last season and he assumed Essex’s old role meaning that Pittsburgh may decide between the two players.

But considering head coach Mike Tomlin likes versatility, expect Essex to stick around for at least one more season.

Key special teamers Daniel Sepulveda and Keyaron Fox are both free agents and may be out of roster spots.

After going on the injured reserve yet again, Sepulveda may have become too much trouble for the Steelers to take care of.

Sepulveda seemed to have regained his leg strength this year after a down season, but the latest setback will mean more time to get back to full strength. If he is back to full health expect Sepulveda to stay. At the very least Pittsburgh should bring him into camp to compete with another punter.

After being the special team’s captain, Fox should have seen his last down as a member of the Steelers organization.

Fox had been a solid special team’s player and capable backup at inside linebacker but both of those roles were reduced last season.

Larry Foote took over as the top backup at inside linebacker and rookie linebackers Stevenson Sylvester and Jason Worilds both demonstrated outstanding abilities on special teams.

But it was the lack of discipline displayed by Fox that should keep him from a Steelers uniform next season. Multiple personal foul penalties, including one in the Super Bowl, are unacceptable for a veteran player. It cost the team too much.

Defensively, Chris Hoke and Ike Taylor are both free agents that the Steelers need to keep.

Hoke is the consummate professional, doing what he needs to do and not complaining. He sets a good example in practice and it shows on the field where the level of the defense rarely drops off when he steps in for Casey Hampton.

Without a young defensive tackle in place, it makes Hoke’s role on the team that more valuable.

That value pales in comparison to Taylor’s.

A poor as the offensive line has played, the Steelers have still been able to win a Super Bowl with bad offensive line play. They cannot say the same about poor play from their defensive backfield.

Taylor is the only cornerback on the roster capable of starting and he is a set of good hands away from being an All-Pro at cornerback.

With Woodley already franchised, Taylor becomes the key focus of this free agency period.

Pittsburgh could always fill holes with a mid-level free agent, such as a right guard, or add depth at tight end, but no move would be able to make up for the loss of Taylor.

There is no chance that the Steelers spend big free agent dollars on a top cornerback outside of Pittsburgh, so it could be Taylor or bust.

http://cdn.bleacherreport.net/images_root/article/media_slots/photos/000/141/129/107196002_crop_340x234.jpg?1299637109

The lack of a shutdown cornerback would have dire consequences for Pittsburgh’s defense and while no player is irreplaceable, Taylor is one who could not be replaced next season.

If Pittsburgh makes one move, it has to be to sign Taylor.

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/6304 ... -breakdown (http://bleacherreport.com/articles/630453-pittsburgh-steelers-free-agent-breakdown)

hawaiiansteel
03-15-2011, 03:48 AM
Pittsburgh Steelers 2011 Free Agents Analysis: Chris Hoke

by Michael Bean on Mar 14, 2011

http://cdn1.sbnation.com/entry_photo_images/951344/70360_falcons_steelers_football.jpg

6 months ago: Pittsburgh Steelers defensive tackle Chris Hoke (76) pressures Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, center, who passes in the fourth quarter of the NFL football game in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Sept. 12, 2010. Pittsburgh recovered the ball but the play was ruled an incomplete pass upon review. Pittsburgh won 15-9 in overtime. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

Even though we have zero idea what free agency might look like under the provisions of a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (whenever that might be), let's continue on with our breakdown of all the Pittsburgh Steelers players whose contracts expired after the 2010 season. Let's turn our attention to the veteran Chris Hoke, whose situation shouldn't really be affected all that much by what or what doesn't happen in the negotiations.

2010 salary: $1.5 million

Free Agent status: Unrestricted

The back story:

Hoke was selected as an undrafted free agent out of BYU in 2001. The fact that he served a two-year mission during his collegiate career probably had something to do with him not being drafted, but . It wasn't until 2004 that Hoke got an opportunity to contribute on game day when an injury to Casey Hampton six games into the season gave Hoke his chance. He took advantage of it, helping the Steelers continue their usual dominance against the run from his nose tackle position. When Big Snack returned, Hoke was relegated back to a reserve role, but you'd be hard pressed to find any evidence of him complaining about a thing. Since then, Hoke has missed just two games, the most recent being in 2010 when he was out for the Steelers Week 4 tilt against the rival Baltimore Ravens.

Hoke is consistent, durable, and perhaps more versatile than we realized. He played some defensive end this past year in the wake of Aaron Smith's injury, rotating with Ziggy Hood on occasion in addition to his usual role of spelling Hampton throughout the course of the game each week.

There are certain veteran guys around the league that must be hoping like hell that a new CBA is reached before the start of the 2011 season.Chris Hoke has to be one of them. The man will turn 35 in early April, and while it's plainly clear that he can still make important contributions at this stage in his career, it's hard to say with as much confidence that the Steelers or another team would invest in him -- even for just a single season -- in 2012 when he would be 36.

What I'd do: Assuming there is in fact a 2011 season -- even one that's abbreviated by a small handful of games -- there's no reason why Hoke wouldn't be back in Pittsburgh next season. Hoke has to know he won't command much on the open market as an URFA, so I'm sure the Steelers can dictate the terms in which he'd be able to resume and finish his career with the team who took a chance on him a decade ago. Hoke earned himself a nice chunk of change with his last URFA contract, so no need to offer him anything more than one-year deals at this point until it's clear that (A) he's no longer worth investing in as a reserve, or (B) the youth movement along the defensive line is far enough along where there's just no room for him anymore. The fact of the matter though is that neither of those variables are really in play in 2011. Hoke can still play and is well worth the modest investment even at his age, and the defensive line is not yet close to being overhauled with younger talent.

http://assets.sbnation.com/assets/565019/chris_hoke_medium.jpg

So, I'd say Hoke should be offered a one-year deal worth $1.2 million, with a number of incentives (performance + roster bonuses) thrown in there to sweeten the deal in the event that Hokey is again asked to step up big for an injured mainstay along the line.

http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/20 ... chris-hoke (http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2011/3/14/2050916/pittsburgh-steelers-2011-free-agents-analysis-chris-hoke)