Bires: Reed could be the franchise
By: Mike Bires
Beaver County Times
http://www.timesonline.com/sports/sport ... chise.html
Thursday January 28, 2010 12:01 AM
Whether he remains a Steeler, Jeff Reed figures to make a ton of money in the not-too-distant future.
Several teams will enter free agency in March looking for a clutch kicker like Reed, who is one of the Steelersí potential unrestricted free agents.
Reed was miffed before the 2009 season started because the Steelers low-balled him with a contract extension. Reed turned down the offer, basically insinuating it was an insult. He also said he would eventually get what he deserves, whether the big bucks come from the Steelers or from another NFL team.
Itís true that Reed doesnít boot the ball long on kickoffs. But for the most part, heís been outstanding when asked to kick field goals. Heís been 27 of 31 in each of the past two regular seasons, which puts him on par statistically with two kickers who cashed in with huge contracts in 2008.
Chicagoís Robbie Gould got a five-year, $15.5 million deal that included a $4.5 million signing bonus. St. Louisí Josh Brown got $14.2 million over five years with a $4 million signing bonus.
In the past two years, Gould is 50 of 57 in field goals, Reed 54 of 62 and Brown 50 of 60.
There is no way the Steelers will pay Reed the kind of money that Gould and Brown got, but thereís nothing keeping the Steelers from putting a franchise or transition tag on Reed.
A franchise player is restricted from entering free agency but is paid the average salary of the top-five players at his position. A transition tag pays the player the average salary of the top-10 players at his position.
Each team is allowed to tag two players this year. Thereís a chance the Steelers could make nose tackle Casey Hampton a franchise player. Reed could also be tagged.
The average salary of the top five kickers in 2009 was $2.483 million. The average salary of the top 10 kickers was $2.264.
In 2005, Reed signed a five-year contact that included a $1.5 million signing bonus. His base salary this season was $1.375 million.
If the Steelers donít re-sign him to a new contract or tag him, there are some teams that will bid for Reedís services.
After Nate Kaedingís 0-for-3 performance in San Diegoís playoff loss to the New York Jets two weeks ago, the need for clutch kickers became a national story.
In Reed, the Steelers have a clutch kicker. He has yet to miss a field goal in the playoffs. Heís a perfect 21-of-21.
Now itís a matter of who will pay Reed the most for his accuracy in the clutch.
Mike Bires can be reached online at email@example.com.