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fordfixer
07-20-2011, 02:30 AM
Steelers are gearing up for free-agent frenzy
By Scott Brown, PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsbu ... 47497.html (http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_747497.html)

The quiet that has pervaded Steelers' headquarters for most of the offseason is now the calm before the storm.

A new NFL labor deal appears to be imminent ó it could be reached Thursday ó and that means the Steelers will soon have to take multitasking to another level.

Director of football operations Kevin Colbert will likely have days, not weeks and months, to signs free agents and draft picks before the start of preseason practice.

The Steelers, who are preparing for a 46th consecutive training camp at St. Vincent College in Latrobe, have a sizable to-do list even if they just concentrate largely on their own free agents.

Ike Taylor, the team's best cornerback, will be an unrestricted free agent. Willie Colon, who started 54 consecutive games at right tackle before an injury sidelined him, is almost certain to have the same status once a new collective bargaining agreement is reached.

Signing outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley to a long-term contract ó the Steelers placed the franchise tag on him prior to the start of the lockout ó will be a top priority, and the Steelers may have to do some financial massaging because they are an estimated $10 million over what the salary cap has been projected to be under the terms of the new CBA.

Colbert has declined interview requests until the lockout is lifted. But it seems pretty safe to assume that he and the Steelers have done everything they can to prepare for free agency, given how little they've had to do during the NFL's first work stoppage since 1987.

"Teams have already done their homework," said agent Doug Hendrickson, whose clients include Woodley. "They've had different charts up and teams know what they're looking for and especially since the draft ended they know what needs they have, so I don't think there's going to be utter chaos."

Controlled chaos may be more apropos, even for the Steelers, who also have a handful of complementary players that are going to be unrestricted free agents in addition to Taylor and Colon.

The start of free agency, typically in early March, is always marked by a flurry of signings ó and that is not expected to change. The difference this year is that the signing period may only precede reporting dates to training camp by a couple of days. That means there won't be a lot of time for teams to court prospective free agents.

"It's going to be very akin to speed dating," said agent Joe Linta, a Freeport native who represents Colon. "The negotiators and the agents are going to have to understand, 'Look, let's get in the ballpark, get it done.' "

Signing undrafted free agents and draft picks shouldn't be problematic, especially since a rookie wage cap will likely be in play.

Top-tier free agents will also be signed quickly, Pittsburgh-based agent Ralph Cindrich said. What is harder to project, Cindrich said, is what happens to the players who are not marquee free agents.

"I think each team knows what they have to do, the minimum they have to accomplish," Cindrich said. "They'll look at the time frame and whatever the rules require, they'll get it done."

There are a lot of unknowns about free agency this year, from what the rules will be once a CBA is in place to how the lockout will affect the value of free agents that would have otherwise had an entire offseason to get acclimated to a new team.

And then there is the reality at how much quicker teams are going to have to move during free agency this year.

"Mistakes are going to be made that would not normally be made," said Rochester-based agent Bill Parise, who represents Steelers outside linebacker James Harrison. "They're going to keep somebody that they would normally need to let go. They're going to let someone go that they should have kept. It's going to be a really intense period. I'm planning on sequestering myself."

Read more: Steelers are gearing up for free-agent frenzy - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsbu ... z1ScmMr5GB (http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_747497.html#ixzz1ScmMr5GB)

fordfixer
07-20-2011, 02:31 AM
A Steelers' to-do list
July 19th, 2011
http://blog.triblive.com/view-from-the- ... ox+Blog%29 (http://blog.triblive.com/view-from-the-press-box/2011/07/19/a-steelers-to-do-list/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+triblive%2Fblog%2FViewFromThe PressBox+%28View+from+the+Press+Box+Blog%29)

Here is a look at the Steelersí top three priorities after a CBA is in place and free agency has started:

1. Re-sign Ike Taylor. The Steelers have to get a deal done with Taylor. They canít depend on getting immediate help from either cornerback they drafted in April. And it is too risky to assume that Keenan Lewis or Crezdon Butler will make the jump necessary for either to be a quality starter this season.
Two things working in the Steelersí favor here: this class is pretty deep at cornerback, and they can probably get Taylor for a little less than what heíll command on the open market.
Thatís not to say Taylor will give the Steelers a hometown discount.
But he is an ideal fit in Dick LeBeauís defense, loves Pittsburgh, loves his teammates and, oh yeah, has won a pair of Super Bowl rings here. Heíll leave a little money on the table if he keeps his eye on the big picture and the Steelers donít try to lowball him.
In the end, I think Taylor will be a Steeler this season for a simple reason: the team wants him back and he wants to return.

2. Figure out their situation at RT. Willie Colon started 54 consecutive games at the position and is healthy again but the Steelers have never had discussions with his agent on a long-term deal. Flozell Adams, who played well in place of the injured Colon in 2010, will be entering his 15th NFL season -Ė if he is not cut because of salary cap considerations.
The Steelers are high enough on Marcus Gilbert that they used a second-round draft pick on him last April. But Gilbertís next practice will be his first one with the Steelers, and the coaches have yet to determine whether the 6-7, 330-pounder is a tackle or a guard.
Jonathan Scott, who proved to be serviceable last season, is also going to be a free agent.
There are a lot of potential moving parts at right tackle. Who will man the position this season could depend on many things, from the interest Colon attracts on the open market to the Steelers' willingness to pay Adams $5 million this season.
Joe Linta, who represents Colon, doesnít sound hopeful that Colon will be back with the Steelers.
ďThey havenít made an offer in three years,Ē Linta said. ďI donít know why they would now but, like Iíve said, thereís never been any hard feelings. He loves the city, he loves his teammates.Ē

3. Stay focused on the future: The Steelers, like most other teams, will have both short-term and long-term goals when it comes to free agency
The short-term ones are obvious. The long-term ones involve locking up core players that are going into the final year of their contracts.
The three that fall into that category this year are linebackers LaMarr Woodley and Lawrence Timmons and strong safety Troy Polamalu. The biggest hindrance to signing those players to multi-year contracts is time.
The Steelers have not had a chance to seriously negotiate with any of the three because of the lockout. Theyíll only have until Sept. 11 to sign Woodley, Timmons and Polamalu to long-term extensions because of their long-standing policy of not negotiating player contracts once the season has started.
Lockout or not, extreme circumstance or not, that is not going to change.
That means the Steelers will have roughly six weeks to lock up three core players in addition to everything else they have to do once the NFL is back in business.

hawaiiansteel
07-20-2011, 02:21 PM
Free Agency 2011 Ė Two Views on the AFC North

July 18th, 2011 | Author: admin


Itís Day 1 of our free agency preview, and weíre going to keep firing the articles at you.

Up next itís the AFC North, home to two playoff teams and two teams that have a lot of questions that need answering. For one team, holding onto their players seems a priority, for another there are so many holes that theyíd struggle not to upgrade their roster.

Thatís the AFC North, one of the NFLís most bitterly competitive divisions that is also currently home to the haves and have-nots.

Two of our chief analysts, Sam Monson and Khaled Elsayed sit down to share their thoughts on the directions each team could go in free agency.



Baltimore Ravens


Which player do they need to resign?

Sam: Iíve given up trying to understand the Ravensí lukewarm-at-best treatment of Jared Gaither, so instead Iím saying theyíve got to lock up their best cornerback, Josh Wilson.

Khaled: Heís so talented and versatile to boot, Marshal Yanda is almost irreplaceable. Wilson is a good player, but will cost money and they just drafted a cornerback in the first round (plus Webb will be a year further removed from injury).


What area is the teamís biggest need to upgrade?

Sam: Iím actually quite a fan of the Ravensí roster overall, and I think they made a lot of the right moves in the draft, but they wouldnít turn down another legitimate defensive end to take some of the focus off Suggs.

Khaled: You know what they could do with? A guy who comes on the field for their nickel package and just rushes the passer. Jarret Johnson is a great player, but heís just not good enough at generating pressure.


How do they upgrade that area?

Sam: If they want to spend money, Ray Edwards has the kind of nasty attitude the Ravens would love, and he plays on the correct side of the line for them. There are other, potentially cheaper options available though, and Jacob Ford makes some sense as more of a pass-rush specialist.

Khaled: It wouldnít hurt to bring back Antwan Barnes and actually give him some snaps. I doubt that, so I also like what Jacob Ford could do for this defense.


Cincinnati Bengals


Which player do they need to resign?

Khaled: Theyíd be a better team if Johnathan Joseph went nowhere. The cornerback wasnít healthy last year, but if he (and Leon Hall) can recapture their 2009 form, they are one of the best CB tandems in the league.

Sam: Well I would say Evan Mathis, since he makes them a better O-line, but they waste him even when they have him on the roster, so Iíll look elsewhere. I was about to say Cedric Benson, before he got himself arrested again, so Iím left agreeing that Jonathan Joseph would be their smartest investment.


What area is the teamís biggest need to upgrade?

Khaled: Pick your poison. I think Carlos Dunlap could have a pretty big future, but opposite him? Thereís very little. They have got nothing out of Robert Geathers since handing him a big deal, and Antwan Odom is living off that game against Green Bay when they couldnít field a proper left tackle.

Sam: I agree their D-line could stand to be upgraded, but there is some youth there. Iím not sure they have a real viable safety on the back end though, and this is a great year to be on that particular search.


How do they upgrade that area?

Khaled: Would the Bengals pay big money for Ray Edwards or Charles Johnson, and would they want to go there? No, though everyone associates him as a five-technique, Cullen Jenkins was an extremely good end in a 4-3 scheme before the Packers changed it up. Heís more stout there and can kick inside in sub packages.

Sam: Take your pick. Quintin Mikell, Eric Weddle are both complete safeties and would be massive upgrades on anybody on the Cincy roster at the moment.


Cleveland Browns


Which player do they need to resign?

Sam: Such are the changes afoot in Cleveland itís tough to get a handle on who fits in the new regime. I think Eric Wright still has enough potential to keep around if they can coach him up.

Khaled: Matt Roth is the most talented guy, but given the change in schemes and some less than flattering comments the front office aimed at him, I doubt he comes back. Iíll go with Wright as well, but he needs to get better.


What area is the teamís biggest need to upgrade?

Sam: Spoiled for choice here. The Browns could stand to upgrade more or less everywhere. Letís try and give Colt McCoy a fighting chance though and give him somebody to throw to.

Khaled: Just who exactly are the Browns using to rush the passer? Marcus Benard looks like a situational player and Roth seems destined to leave. You canít solely rely on rookies, you need to find someone who can come in and contribute straight away. Especially if youíre going to have big cloggers in the middle.


How do they upgrade that area?

Sam: Sidney Rice has already shown that he can be a quarterbackís best friend when healthy. He gives passers the ability to throw the ball to him even when heís covered down the field. Not necessarily a good thing to be teaching them, but itíll make them look a lot better.

Khaled: It would be easy to look at Ray Edwards and Charles Johnson as the answers, but it would pay to be a bit more conservative. Andre Carter isnít a long term signing, but heíll be cheaper than he should be given how the Skins used him last year. As a defensive end, heíll beat offensive tackles.


Pittsburgh Steelers


Which player do they need to resign?

Khaled: I wonít say Iím the biggest Ike Taylor fan, but heís better than anything they have at cornerback, or likely anything theyíd be willing to pay for. Keeping him a Steeler preserves a status quo that has worked pretty well for them. Iíd lean heavily towards Willie Colon but for uncertainty over his injury.

Sam: I canít argue with Khaled here. As much as Colon is top player when healthy, they got to the Super Bowl without him, but theyíre in real trouble if they lose their best cornerback (even if heís no superstar). I think they need to try and keep him on board.


What area is the teamís biggest need to upgrade?

Khaled: Itís the offensive line and itís not even close. You could stand to upgrade every spot (but center and maybe left tackle depending on how healthy Max Starks is). Chris Kemoeatu had a shocker of a year and you canít really say with any certainty who will play at right guard. They need to find some quality guards (and a right tackle).

Sam: Another case where weíre in agreement. They got to the Super Bowl with the patchwork line (playing at times with four guards and a center), but thereís no denying it hurt them, and no quarterback plays better for long under pressure. Help Big Ben out and improve his protection.


How do they upgrade that area?

Khaled: They probably wonít, instead relying on Pouncey improving, Starks returning and Big Ben being Big Ben. But if they were to do so, Iíd really consider ravaging their divisional rivals. Make yourself stronger and make your enemies weaker. With that in mind Iíd throw good money at Marshal Yanda in the hopes that his talk of wanting to stay a Raven, will wane when heís sees a lot of zeros on a contract offer. Failing that, Tyson Clabo is pretty handy in pass protection if they want to keep Roethlisberger healthy.

Sam: Iím going to run with the same idea, but a different divisional foe. Sign Bengals cast-off Evan Mathis and youíll have a major upgrade at left guard without breaking the bank to do it, leaving you some extra cash to spend elsewhere.

http://www.profootballfocus.com/blog/20 ... afc-north/ (http://www.profootballfocus.com/blog/2011/07/18/free-agency-two-views-on-the-afc-north/)

flippy
07-20-2011, 04:21 PM
I have a feeling that teams like Pittsburgh, NE, GB, Indy could benefit from the rushed process of FA. I suspect the bad teams are going to really screw up given that they'll be rushed and the good teams will capitalize.

Steelgal
07-20-2011, 04:25 PM
I have a feeling that teams like Pittsburgh, NE, GB, Indy could benefit from the rushed process of FA. I suspect the bad teams are going to really screw up given that they'll be rushed and the good teams will capitalize.

I agree.... The first few days might be 'rough' for Steeler fans if you expect any big news, but if they wait it out, we could have a few nice players fall for the right price. I think I heard Clayton say yesterday the both Bengals and Bucs have to spend over $50M or so. Even though it's Mike Brown, I'm still worried about the players he could bring in and sign. Fortunately it's the bungals, so hopefully they'll still screw it up, lol!

RuthlessBurgher
07-20-2011, 04:30 PM
I have a feeling that teams like Pittsburgh, NE, GB, Indy could benefit from the rushed process of FA. I suspect the bad teams are going to really screw up given that they'll be rushed and the good teams will capitalize.

Without any minicamps or OTA's or contact with coaches whatsoever, and only a few weeks before actual games start, there is a huge advantage to teams with intact coaching staffs and established quarterbacks. Rookies and free agents signed from other teams will not have the impact this season that they have had in the past, because they do not have the same opportunity to learn the new system during the offseason. They will be playing catchup all year. The smartest thing to do right now is to re-sign your own guys.

flippy
07-20-2011, 04:32 PM
I have a feeling that teams like Pittsburgh, NE, GB, Indy could benefit from the rushed process of FA. I suspect the bad teams are going to really screw up given that they'll be rushed and the good teams will capitalize.

Without any minicamps or OTA's or contact with coaches whatsoever, and only a few weeks before actual games start, there is a huge advantage to teams with intact coaching staffs and established quarterbacks. Rookies and free agents signed from other teams will not have the impact this season that they have had in the past, because they do not have the same opportunity to learn the new system during the offseason. They will be playing catchup all year. The smartest thing to do right now is to re-sign your own guys.

This is why no one should sign Nnamdi. We can deal with him learning the playbook :)

Steelgal
07-20-2011, 04:34 PM
I have a feeling that teams like Pittsburgh, NE, GB, Indy could benefit from the rushed process of FA. I suspect the bad teams are going to really screw up given that they'll be rushed and the good teams will capitalize.

I agree.... The first few days might be 'rough' for Steeler fans if you expect any big news, but if they wait it out, we could have a few nice players fall for the right price. I think I heard Clayton say yesterday the both Bengals and Bucs have to spend over $50M or so. Even though it's Mike Brown, I'm still worried about the players he could bring in and sign. Fortunately it's the bungals, so hopefully they'll still screw it up, lol!

hawaiiansteel
07-22-2011, 03:06 PM
it will be interesting to see if the Steelers land any of the top available UDFAs...


Top 20 undrafted free agents not loaded with sudden impact

By Gil Brandt NFL.com
Senior Analyst
Published: July 21, 2011

http://static.nfl.com/static/content/catch_all/nfl_image/combo_110721_02_WIDE.jpg

Derrick Locke, Pat Devlin and Mark Herzlich (left to right) should all be on NFL rosters soon.

The lockout has made this a difficult and trying offseason for college players who went undrafted. Rookie free agents are some of the players who benefit the most from the offseason team activities that take place in May and June. Because those didn't happen, it's unlikely an undrafted free agent this season will have the impact LeGarrette Blount had with the Buccaneers last season.

As you look over my list of the top 20 available UFAs, keep this in mind: The two positions that are the easiest to come in and play right away are running back and cornerback; the two most difficult are quarterback and wide receiver.

With running backs, the hardest thing they have to learn is blitz pick-up, but otherwise the learning curve is by far the easiest. With corners, the learning process is not as great as it is at other defensive positions. A guy who is athletic and knows how to break on the ball has the chance to play early.

It's difficult for receivers because of the multitude of coverages they see and the split-second decisions they have to make each down. And obviously, the learning curve for quarterbacks is extremely high. One thing going in their favor, however, is how much passing is dominating the game in college, so the transition is easier now than it was 10 years ago, as Sam Bradford showed last season.

Here are the top 20 undrafted free agents who will be snatched up in short order:

1. Pat Devlin, QB, Delaware: Has size needed to succeed at the position, to go with accuracy and football intelligence.

2. Mark Herzlich, LB, Boston College: His battle against cancer is well documented and speaks to his hunger to play. If healthy, he can play all downs.

3. Derrick Locke, RB, Kentucky: Has quickness and speed needed for success at running back.

4. DeAndre McDaniel, S, Clemson: Has all the traits needed to be a good safety.

5. Jake Kirkpatrick, C, TCU: A former high school basketball player who is strong and smart and has traits that remind some of Colts veteran Jeff Saturday.

6. Mario Fannin, RB, Auburn: Oustanding speed and pass-catching ability. Makes a lot of plays.

7. Nick Bellore, LB, Central Michigan: Very competitive linebacker. One of the all-time top tacklers in the MAC. Great special teams player.

8. Willie Smith, OT, East Carolina: Smart offensive tackle with long arms and good athletic ability. Excellent pass blocker.

9. Ray Dominguez, G, Arkansas: Strong guard who has the chance to start for someone in his second year.

10. Brandon Bair, DT, Oregon: Needs to add weight but has the frame to do so. Very active.

11. Sealver Siliga, DT, Utah: Strong at the point of attack and reminds some of another Utah product, Dolphins defensive tackle Paul Soliai.

12. Dane Sanzenbacher, WR, Ohio State: Slot receiver who will catch the ball across the middle and has outstanding hands.

13. Kendric Burney, CB, North Carolina: Lacks great speed but makes up for it with quickness and ball skills. Very good tackler.

14. John Clay, RB, Wisconsin: Strong, inside runner in the mold of Blount.

15. Ian Williams, DT, Notre Dame: A four-year starter at Notre Dame who is very strong and athletic.

16. Ricardo Lockette, WR, Fort Valley State: Teams love speed, and he is the fastest player available of all undrafted free agents.

17. Scott Tolzien, QB, Wisconsin: Smart quarterback with good but not great arm. Has been very successful with accuracy and ability to hit the right receivers.

18. Noel Devine, RB, West Virginia: Not tall, has great speed, production and hands. Possible WR/KR prospect.

19. Kyle Hix, OT, Texas: Long arms, very strong. Doesn't have good enough feet to play LT but could be good on right side.

20. Zach Hurd, G, Connecticut: He played guard at UConn but his best position might be as a RT because of his size and strength.

http://www.nfl.com/news/story/09000d5d8 ... den-impact (http://www.nfl.com/news/story/09000d5d820e3eac/article/top-20-undrafted-free-agents-not-loaded-with-sudden-impact)?

RuthlessBurgher
07-22-2011, 03:46 PM
Some interesting names there, such as Ian Williams, Ricardo Lockette, Kendric Burney, Zach Hurd, and Mark Herzlich. I'd be happy with those guys.

flippy
07-22-2011, 04:44 PM
I wonder if teams will have an advantage over players. Since they have to do so many contracts so quickly, they might be able to play hardball and offer mutliple guys deals simultaneously and tell them the first to say yes, gets the deal done, the others then get put on the backburner, have to wait, and may not get what was offered.

hawaiiansteel
07-24-2011, 05:29 PM
Another bad break for undrafted players

Posted by Gregg Rosenthal on July 24, 2011


Itís going to be tougher for this yearís crop of undrafted players to make NFL rosters this offseason without the benefit of OTAs to get ready for training camp. (The same could be said for late round picks.)

The undrafted players could also take a hit financially, like their rookie classmates at the very top of the draft.

Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel writes that the CBA will limit teams to a $75,000 signing bonus limit for their entire undrafted class.

ďProbably wonít see $20,000 signing bonuses for rook free agents anymore,Ē McGinn opines.

The Cleveland Plain-Dealer wrote earlier this offseason that $3,000 was the average signing bonus for players, so it will only hurt the very top end undrafted options.

It remains unclear when undrafted players would be allowed to sign. Wednesday is the best guess when they could start to negotiate, with the deals official 24 hours later.

http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/20 ... d-players/ (http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2011/07/24/another-bad-break-for-undrafted-players/)