Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 23

Thread: Kevin Colbert discusses how the Steelers build a roster

  1. #1
    Legend

    User Info Menu

    Kevin Colbert discusses how the Steelers build a roster

    Credit card football: How the Steelers build a roster

    Aug 17, 2019

    Jeremy Fowler
    ESPN Staff Writer

    PITTSBURGH -- Kevin Colbert lives in two worlds as general manager of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

    There's the world of scouting reports, player intangibles and maximizing talent.

    Then there's the world of salary-cap projections, roster bonuses and dead money, all of which he likens to the use of a credit card.

    "Sooner or later you have to pay it off," Colbert said about the salary cap. "We can do things to create room, but the money never goes away. The money goes away if you terminate a player, but you still have dead money that accelerates into the given year. You pay that interest like a credit card."

    Not many understand the percentage yields on those magnetic stripes better than Colbert, who in 19 years with the organization has spent a billion-plus dollars on the way to two Super Bowls and 12 playoff appearances.

    Colbert has faced nearly every scenario since joining the organization in 2000 as director of football operations, officially becoming general manager in 2010.

    He helped extend quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's contract three times.

    He drafted Antonio Brown in the sixth round, watched him become an All-Pro, absorbed $21.12 million in dead money by trading him, then flipped the third-round pick from that trade as part of a draft-day deal for linebacker Devin Bush.

    He has straddled the salary-cap threshold only to create ample space in a matter of days thanks to veteran restructures.

    He selected three Pro Bowlers from the same 2017 draft class but has missed on multiple cornerbacks.

    He has exhausted every option trying to replace transcendent talent Ryan Shazier at linebacker.

    All these decisions collide with a race against time.

    Colbert is going year-to-year on a contract that expires in May 2020 but wants one more Lombardi, and he wants it with Roethlisberger and coach Mike Tomlin. He'd like to think the work done from January to August will clear the path, but he dwells in uncertainty every preseason.

    "We think we make the right decisions, but until we play, we donít know," Colbert said.

    In a recent interview with ESPN, Colbert lays out some of the Steelers' pillars for roster-building that he believes work out more often than not.

    Mapping out future years is a must

    The Steelers have $5.3 million in cap space in 2019, but that's only part of the big picture. The front office projects four years out, and every contract negotiation is done through that prism.

    "We keep a running total and look at, 'OK, in 2019 if we do this (deal), it could affect what we do in 2021,'" Colbert said.

    And 2022, a year in which no veterans are under contract. All of the Steelers' big extensions expire by then. That probably will remain the case after negotiations with cornerback Joe Haden, whose looming extension is expected to run through 2021.

    Predicting durability, aging requires some luck

    Pittsburgh isn't looking for two-year outs on their long-term extensions. It wants players good enough to fulfill four- and five-year deals.

    Colbert identifies talent that he believes will get that done, and he's betting that player maintains a high level of play into his early 30s. Studying trends can help but only guide so far.

    "You also look at his history -- the more durable a player is in college or early in his career, the probability of him being healthy moving forward is greater," Colbert said. "But itís still a matter of luck on both parts really."

    Steelers' longevity contracts an unwritten selling point

    The Steelers have been batting above .800 on players going deep into mega-deals, with Roethlisberger, center Maurkice Pouncey, defensive end Cam Heyward, left tackle Alejandro Villanueva and guard David DeCastro the latest examples.

    Pouncey and Roethlisberger just re-upped after playing out their long-term deals; DeCastro and Heyward are in years four and five of six-year pacts; Villanueva made Pro Bowls in the first two years of a four-year contract.

    The Steelers hold this success rate in the back pocket during negotiations, but they don't pull it out.

    "If the agent does his homework, he can pretty much see weíve had some success in signing our own, having them reach the end of those contracts more often than not," Colbert said.

    And they probably aren't changing their guaranteed contract structure

    The Steelers are known for offering no true contract guarantees beyond the signing bonus, a structure that was problematic for now-New York Jet Le'Veon Bell during his franchise tag holdout. Many NFL teams get creative with guarantees, maybe offering the first-year salary or more to sweeten the deal.

    But Colbert is quick to point out: Players don't have to accept their deals.

    "Why would you vary from something thatís been successful for you?" Colbert asked rhetorically of the approach. "It doesn't guarantee anything moving forward, but it leans toward being more successful than not."

    After 10 years with the Steelers, guard Ramon Foster believes the franchise's intent for paying their players the full balance of a deal helps offset the guarantees issue.

    "There have been maybe one or two guys here who havenít gotten the majority of their contract. Thatís it," Foster said. "Itís a land of opportunity. If you are good enough, they are going to make a way for you.Ē

    Colbert stresses this is what the Steelers do now, and he can't predict how the league will shift. Forecasting an approach under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement starting in 2021 is too difficult. But for now, the process is clear-cut.

    "Weíre going to stay with what weíve found to be a prudent way to run the organization," he said. "If a player doesnít agree with it, he doesnít have to sign the deal."

    They don't cap star power

    Most salary-cap data says teams spend around 50 percent of their money on about 10 players. In fact, the dozen-plus teams with $10 million of 2019 cap space or less average about 6.5 rostered players with a cap hit of at least $8 million this year.

    Colbert doesn't budget for good players this way, though. Building a roster still comes down to identifying the right pieces for a winner and working hard to make the rest work.

    "You never want to limit it, thatís for sure," Colbert said. "The key is to have the right 10 players taking up that much (50 percent) of your cap. If you donít have the right 10 players, youíre going to have issues."

    The free-agency process that 'never stops'

    The Steelers examine three key points with each free agent they are considering: What they think he will cost, what they are willing to pay, and what would make them walk away.

    Colbert is in constant contact with Tomlin and his scouting staff about available players, and he relies heavily on vice president of football and business administration Omar Khan and football administration coordinator Samir Suleiman to lay the groundwork for deals.

    The Steelers rank free agents, then try to match the ranking with appropriate value.

    "Omar and Samir, they do a nice job handling that side of it," Colbert said. "We talk all the time -- 'Weíre interested in this player, we think heís going to be worth this much.' Itís their job to provide me the information to be able to manage the decisions that we feel are best for our football team. Once we place an evaluation on a free agent, then we try to guesstimate where he fits among the salary structure, what his market might be."

    Always 'stay current'

    Important to Colbert is sensing how the game is shifting on the field. His example: 2014 first-round pick Shazier, at 232 pounds, wasn't a prototypical inside linebacker, but the Steelers sensed an increasingly more lateral game -- especially in college -- was prioritizing speed.

    "You could sense this would probably leak into our league," Colbert said. "We may have been a couple years ahead of where the game is now."

    Since then, the Steelers have drafted three safeties with an average measurable of 6-foot-1 1/2 and 211 pounds, and the 5-11, 234-pound Bush could pass for a hybrid safety.

    Colbert is always looking for the next trend.

    "We have to stay current with what is happening in our game," Colbert said. "Sometimes weíre part of that. Sometimes itís happening around us and we have to react to it. Itís a very cyclical game. Whatever happens on offense, the defense has to catch up and vice versa. We have to acknowledge that in our evaluations where we may value one thing -- maybe size and strength more in the past -- but now since the game has become more horizontal, you probably have to value speed and athleticism. It changes, but we have to stay not only with it, but try to be ahead of it."

    https://www.espn.com/blog/pittsburgh-steelers/post/_/id/31086/credit-card-football-how-the-steelers-build-a-roster
    Steeler teams featuring stat-driven, me-first, fantasy-football-darling diva types such as Antonio Brown & Le'Veon Bell won no championships.

    Super Bowl winning Steeler teams were built around a dynamic, in-your-face defense plus blue-collar, hard-hitting, no-nonsense football players on offense such as Hines Ward & Jerome Bettis.

    We don't want Juju & Conner to replace what we lost in Brown & Bell.

    We are counting on Juju & Conner to return us to the glory we once had with Hines & The Bus.

  2. #2
    Legend

    User Info Menu

    Despite all the complainers who criticize almost everything this team does, the reality is there is probably 29 other teams who would like to claim the sucess the Steelers have had in the past 15 years. This organization does it right in about 80% of the decisions they make which given the uncertainty and variables at work is pretty damn good.

  3. #3
    Hall of Famer

    User Info Menu

    my take on that article is just reiterates how stupid bell was not to take the deal the steelers offered him

    for all the sycophants saying he got more guaranteed $$ the reality is that he passed on a much more lucrative offer to stay in Pittsburgh and thank god he did

    the team is much stronger for it

  4. #4
    Pro Bowler

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by Oviedo View Post
    Despite all the complainers who criticize almost everything this team does, the reality is there is probably 29 other teams who would like to claim the sucess the Steelers have had in the past 15 years. This organization does it right in about 80% of the decisions they make which given the uncertainty and variables at work is pretty damn good.
    You're right. And if it wasn't for the insane recent success from the cheating organization, I think many would be much less frustrated with the Steelers.

    Steelers nation has incredibly high championship winning standards. And when some other organization is the one who is currently meeting those standards, it becomes very frustrating.

  5. #5
    Legend

    User Info Menu

    Good article, but I always have a hard time trying to figure out who's responsible for the team's success or failures. I think Colbert is competent, but this team's makeup has had more of Bill Cowher and Mike Tomin's influence than Colbert imho. And the reason I say this is how much we've changed between eras. We went from selecting great 1st rounders to selecting better in the 2nd and 3rds.

    In the Cowher era, we were so solid with our 1st round picks and missed big time in later rounds consistently. In the Tomline era, we reach for young super athletes in round 1 that might not be polished football players and we've all seen what that's gotten us.

    It's not like Colbert got bad at picking 1st rounders and it's not like he all of a sudden got great at finding gems at WR. Our headcoach's fingerprint is all over this team. Kinda makes you wonder what Tomlin and Cowher could have done together. I think it would have been a fun experiment to have Cowher as GM with Tomlin as our coach. Or it could have been a disaster. But I kinda see Tomlin and Cowher as more complimentary and we could have even had success with Tomlin as GM and Cowher as the coach.

    And I don't hate Colbert by any means. I like his insight generally and he seems like a quality guy. But it feels like his success or mistakes have been tied to the coach moreso than others.

  6. #6
    Legend

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by flippy View Post
    Good article, but I always have a hard time trying to figure out who's responsible for the team's success or failures. I think Colbert is competent, but this team's makeup has had more of Bill Cowher and Mike Tomin's influence than Colbert imho. And the reason I say this is how much we've changed between eras. We went from selecting great 1st rounders to selecting better in the 2nd and 3rds.

    In the Cowher era, we were so solid with our 1st round picks and missed big time in later rounds consistently. In the Tomline era, we reach for young super athletes in round 1 that might not be polished football players and we've all seen what that's gotten us.

    It's not like Colbert got bad at picking 1st rounders and it's not like he all of a sudden got great at finding gems at WR. Our headcoach's fingerprint is all over this team. Kinda makes you wonder what Tomlin and Cowher could have done together. I think it would have been a fun experiment to have Cowher as GM with Tomlin as our coach. Or it could have been a disaster. But I kinda see Tomlin and Cowher as more complimentary and we could have even had success with Tomlin as GM and Cowher as the coach.

    And I don't hate Colbert by any means. I like his insight generally and he seems like a quality guy. But it feels like his success or mistakes have been tied to the coach moreso than others.
    Cowher was an "attention whore." No way he shares credit with anyone. Ask Tom Donahoe

  7. #7
    Hall of Famer

    User Info Menu

    oh dear, not this again

  8. #8
    Legend

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by flippy View Post

    In the Cowher era, we were so solid with our 1st round picks
    Cowher's initial first round draft pick in 1991 was Huey Richardson...

  9. #9
    Legend

    User Info Menu

    Tuesday, Aug 20, 2019 11:00 AM


    Turning 53 into 60



    Mike Prisuta

    Steelers.com


    There’s a method to the position flexibility the Steelers have been exploring this preseason, in the secondary and beyond.


    “They have to be able to play all of them,” defensive coordinator Keith Butler said of his defensive backs. “If they don’t, people will label us. And if they label us at certain positions, it’s easier for the quarterbacks to read.


    “Plus, the versatility of your defense, you have to have enough people, because of injuries and stuff like that, who can play different positions. If you don’t and somebody gets injured, it screws up the whole thing.”


    The most versatile of the bunch has been Cam Sutton, who has worked as an outside cornerback in the four-defensive backs “base,” as a slot cornerback in the five-defensive backs “nickel” and as a linebacker-safety hybrid in the six-defensive backs “dime.”


    “Nickel” cornerback Mike Hilton has also been playing safety.


    And against Kansas City, first-year safety candidate Kameron Kelly was deployed in a three-safety “nickel” _ as opposed to the three-cornerback “nickel” that normally includes Hilton _ and as a safety in a “dime” package that featured Sean Davis playing the linebacker-safety hybrid Sutton has been handling.


    Confused?


    The defensive backs maintain it’s nothing they can’t handle.


    “Not at all,” Hilton said. ”We ask each other questions. We pay attention to what each other does.


    “We’re confident in where guys can play. Everybody’s versatile, so it just makes us a better defense.”


    When Davis was unavailable due to injury, Kelly had previously been getting a lot of snaps at safety with the first-team defense.


    He isn’t complaining, either


    He’s trying to make the team in any capacity, and is wide open to any and all opportunities to do so.


    “I’m just trying to make the most out of them,” he said. “I’m just trying to do what I can.


    “Wherever they line me up I’m just trying to go out there and play as hard as I can.”


    Added starting cornerback Steve Nelson: “We have a lot of guys that are very versatile, can play different positions. That’s good, to have guys to be able to move around. You never know, guys go down and you kind of need guys to plug-and-play, and we definitely have that.”


    Similar experimentation has been taking place along the offensive line, with candidates for backup positions such as tackle Zach Banner and guard Fred Johnson working one side of the front one week and the opposite side the next.


    “Position flexibility has to be an element of this thing, particularly when you’re talking about adding quality depth,” head coach Mike Tomlin said. “You can turn 53 men into 60 if you have good position flexibility and that’s what we strive to have.”


    https://www.steelers.com/news/turning-53-into-60
    Steeler teams featuring stat-driven, me-first, fantasy-football-darling diva types such as Antonio Brown & Le'Veon Bell won no championships.

    Super Bowl winning Steeler teams were built around a dynamic, in-your-face defense plus blue-collar, hard-hitting, no-nonsense football players on offense such as Hines Ward & Jerome Bettis.

    We don't want Juju & Conner to replace what we lost in Brown & Bell.

    We are counting on Juju & Conner to return us to the glory we once had with Hines & The Bus.

  10. #10
    Hall of Famer

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by RuthlessBurgher View Post
    “Position flexibility has to be an element of this thing, particularly when you’re talking about adding quality depth,” head coach Mike Tomlin said. “You can turn 53 men into 60 if you have good position flexibility and that’s what we strive to have.”
    Nothing new. Tomlin has been preaching position flexibility since he arrived. Let's hope that some of these guys aren't just "position flexible" but are "position good".

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •