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View Full Version : It's time to decide who stays and who goes



BlitzburghRockCity
02-15-2007, 06:06 AM
http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07046/762327-66.stm


Thursday, February 15, 2007
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


The Steelers start their final evaluations of free agents today as the new coaches join the scouting staff to make up a wish list of players they might add to their team and those they do not want -- perhaps including some of their own.

The Steelers have no unrestricted free agents who started for them last season, and only one who is restricted -- offensive right tackle Max Starks. It's likely some players under contract won't be asked back, particularly if the Steelers believe they can release a player to make room under their salary cap to sign another.

"We were an 8-8 team," Kevin Colbert, their football operations director, said yesterday. "For us to think we can stand pat and be any better than that, I think would be naive on our part."

Colbert said the Steelers will be tight under the salary cap, expected to be about $109 million per team, and that it is likely they will be as active this year as they have been in recent years in free agency, or very little. Each of the past two years, they've signed one mid-priced free agent who eventually started -- wide receiver Cedrick Wilson in 2005 and safety Ryan Clark in 2006.

Free agency starts March 2.

There are ways to create more room under the cap, through re-signing their players and shifting their salaries into a bonus, by asking players to take cuts or by releasing players. For example, in all likelihood punter Chris Gardocki, 37, will be released because he ranked near the bottom of the league and his salary for 2007 would be slightly more than $1 million.

They also must decide what to do with linebacker Joey Porter. He not only is set to earn a salary of $4 million but an additional $1 million in a roster bonus payable early in March. Last year, Porter admitted that then-coach Bill Cowher talked him out of holding out of training camp because he wanted a contract extension. Will they try to extend his contract? Let him play out his last season, hoping he does not hold out?

Another possibility would be to not pay Porter the $1 million bonus and let him become a free agent. That's considered unlikely, particularly since they are thin at outside linebacker and, while Porter had a subpar 2006 after knee surgery in May, he made three Pro Bowls in the previous four seasons.

"I want to say there are [six] guys with either roster or reporting bonuses, and we're still in the process of making those decisions," Colbert said when asked if the Steelers would pay Porter's roster bonus.

"We haven't made any decision on anybody not being here or even being here. As we go through this thing and we get closer -- like that ... and you look at what's going to be available and compare it to what you have -- is there somewhere we can upgrade either through an exchange of players or a combination of players? Those are the things we're going to be doing, along with the draft and the cap all kind of mixed in together."

The other five players due roster bonuses in March are Alan Faneca ($1 million), Aaron Smith ($1 million), Ike Taylor ($300,000), Marvel Smith ($250,000) and Willie Parker ($250,000).

BlitzburghRockCity
02-15-2007, 06:08 AM
It should be a no brainer for Gardocki, he's gone. The Steelers usually do a great job of renegoiating contracts of higher priced players to make run under the cap so I'd expect that trend to continue this offseason as well.

Im anxious to see what happens with not only Porter but obviously the others as well and how many of them will get new deals this offseason to extend their contracts and get cap relief.

BlackGold4vr
02-15-2007, 09:35 AM
It should be a no brainer for Gardocki, he's gone. The Steelers usually do a great job of renegoiating contracts of higher priced players to make run under the cap so I'd expect that trend to continue this offseason as well.

I really wouldn't mind seeing Max Starks go to the Cardinals either! He was a 3rd round pick 3 years ago (75th) overall and the Cardinals 3rd round pick this year would be the 69th pick. I believe we're better off with Willie Colon at RT anyway. With Whisenhunt and Grimm over in Arizona with a ton of cap room I think there is an excellent chance that Maxie is gone. Any significant increase in salary offered by the Cards would not be matched by us IMO! With compensatory picks already coming for our free agent losses last year it is not inconceivable that we could end up with 5 picks on day 1. We will have our 3 regular picks (15th, 47th, 79th) with the Cards stealing Starks we could end up with the 69th (their 3rd round pick) plus the compensatory pick at the end of the 3rd round (Von Ol Hoffen, Chris Hope, Antwaan Randle El) which I will guestimate as the 96th pick. We could do some damage with 5 picks on day1! And with another 5 picks coming on day 2 we would have plenty of wiggle room to trade up for players we really wanted since it is unlikely that 10 rookies could make our talented roster anyway!

:beer4:

BlitzburghRockCity
02-15-2007, 09:48 AM
I agree, with all the talent our roster currently has, all those draft picks won't make the team. The problem I see with lettings Starks go is that then we are razor thin at Tackle, and Colon is young without much starting experience as it is. His upside is huge and I like his potential but if he goes down, or doesnt work out, we're not in good shape with having to slide a rookie in there. Essex can play both Tackles as I understand it so that helps, but still our depth is zero at that point.

Captcoolhand
02-15-2007, 10:02 AM
I agree, with all the talent our roster currently has, all those draft picks won't make the team. The problem I see with lettings Starks go is that then we are razor thin at Tackle, and Colon is young without much starting experience as it is. His upside is huge and I like his potential but if he goes down, or doesnt work out, we're not in good shape with having to slide a rookie in there. Essex can play both Tackles as I understand it so that helps, but still our depth is zero at that point.
Sure we would! Hello anyone know where Philips is and how he plays:dunno: :scratch: why are they going to move Simmons to C when we got people for that position. We needed help on Oline for a while now but is this the answer?

BlitzburghRockCity
02-15-2007, 10:57 AM
Simmons seem to be a bit of a natural at Center, more so than at guard where he just hasn't played all that well the last couple years, really since he blew out his knee.

Okobi is still the front runner on the depth chart at Center so he and Simmons could be battling it out at Center during camp. Chris K could slide into the RG spot but then we better pick up atleast a couple OL in the draft and FA for depth.

Captcoolhand
02-15-2007, 11:03 AM
I still like to know about Philips:scratch: He's has been on the 53 man rooster all season and has yet to play

BlackGold4vr
02-15-2007, 11:25 AM
I agree, with all the talent our roster currently has, all those draft picks won't make the team. The problem I see with lettings Starks go is that then we are razor thin at Tackle, and Colon is young without much starting experience as it is. His upside is huge and I like his potential but if he goes down, or doesnt work out, we're not in good shape with having to slide a rookie in there. Essex can play both Tackles as I understand it so that helps, but still our depth is zero at that point.

Looking back through the years at Steeler drafts most of the really good O-lineman that we have had jumped in the starting roster their first year! Almost every (project) O-lineman pick has eventually been released or traded. The jets just went to the playoffs last year with 2 rookies on their O-line! Willie Colon was a fourth round pick last year and in my mind has a bright future with us. Some of our back-ups suck right now! Let them go and go find someone else. Why are we worried about who plays center when we have 2 guys who we drafted as centers? Because they aren't that good! Throw them back and go fish for another! Faneca, Marvel Smith, Simmons and Starks started right away. Chris Conrad, Kris Farris, Mathias Nkwenti, Chucki Okobi, Drew Caylor, Bo Lacy, Chris Kemoeatu, Trai Essex, Marvin Philip these are names of other lineman who have been drafted since the 98 draft where we landed Faneca and most of these aren't with us anymore. And the ones who are with us that aren't already starters.......most of us don't want them to be starters! Best way for lineman to get seasoning? Play! As we can all see by the names of the non-starters on that list.....sitting for a year or two before being thrown in isn't a guarantee for success! Anyone predict last years 4th round pick out of Hofstra (Willie Colon) to be this good? If any of you had him on your own list of hopefuls I would be surprised! He was the 131st pick! There are more gems out there just like him who probably went to smaller schools and we never heard of them but the Steeler scouts always seem to find them. Then there are the Robert Galleries who are touted as the second coming and picked top 5 in the draft who never live up to the hype. Talent assessment is a crap shoot in the draft. Sometimes you hit the home run (Justin Strzelczyk, 293rd pick out of Maine) and sometimes you strike out (Jamaine Stephens, 29th pick out of North Carolina A&T) never started a game for us! I say throw em back and start over. You want a project? Take up woodworking! You want a lineman who can play with some attitude? You probably won't find him sitting on your bench.........go get one in the draft! IMHO

:beer3:

K Train
02-15-2007, 11:43 AM
as for gardocki...just look nat the avatar, the answer is there.

I think Starks will stay with us cheap but i like colon better anyway, ive only heard good about Phillips who played well in preseason, i like him and okobi and Simmons battleing for center.

Smith, Faneca, Phillips/Okobi/Simmons, Simmons/Chris K, Colon/Essex/Starks

If Starks stays its because he likes us, i think essex will continue to backup smith and faneca on the left side.

I think it might end up

Smith
Faneca
Phillips
Chris K
Colon

thats a mean right side of an oline

IM not so sure about simmons he might be the oddman out depending on the young guys and how they play

BlackGold4vr
02-15-2007, 12:17 PM
I think Starks will stay with us cheap but i like colon better anyway, ive only heard good about Phillips who played well in preseason, i like him and okobi and Simmons battleing for center.

I would be surprised if Arizona doesn't tender Starks an offer! And he was a Russ Grimm student and fan. We'll know in a couple weeks.....March 2nd. If the Cardinals offered him more money I don't think he would hesitate to leave for Arizona! He originaly came out of Florida! He has been maligned in Pittsburgh and his starting job might even be in jeopardy........why wouldn't he jump on an offersheet for more money, a chance to reunite with Grimm, a young team on the rise with tons of talent, in a warmer climate? Would the Steeler management fight to keep him? I am not too sure they would.

:boxing:

DIESELMAN
02-15-2007, 01:54 PM
I would be surprised if Arizona doesn't tender Starks an offer! And he was a Russ Grimm student and fan. We'll know in a couple weeks.....March 2nd. If the Cardinals offered him more money I don't think he would hesitate to leave for Arizona! He originaly came out of Florida! He has been maligned in Pittsburgh and his starting job might even be in jeopardy........why wouldn't he jump on an offersheet for more money, a chance to reunite with Grimm, a young team on the rise with tons of talent, in a warmer climate? Would the Steeler management fight to keep him? I am not too sure they would.

:boxing:

With the salary cap jumping to 109 mil. The Cards and the 9ers have around 30 mil each to play with. It wouldn't surprise me none for Starks to leave, I say let him leave and we can get a comp for next year. There will be a OL taken on the first day for us, the rest of our OL bunch (we're still young enough to not have real big worries) will come together this season.

BlitzburghRockCity
02-15-2007, 02:06 PM
Anyone predict last years 4th round pick out of Hofstra (Willie Colon) to be this good? If any of you had him on your own list of hopefuls I would be surprised! He was the 131st pick!

I don't know about you but Im not ready to crown him the next great thing just yet. He made some good plays and showed alot of potential but the verdict is still out. He needs to prove alot in this camp to become the starter. I hope he does well for us, and he is the next great thing, but let's not jump he gun just yet on him ;)

As far as SMith & Faneca, they are rocks, keep em, sign em long term.

Okobi: The verdict is still out on him too. He hasn't played because he's been behind Jeff Hartings for so long. Maybe he could have taken over the Center position from Jeff a year or 2 ago but we can't say for sure the reasons he hasnt because Hartings was a "cowher guy"

Simmons: no more RG for kendall, he's been subpar for the last 2 years. If he's more of a natural center then lets find out in camp and see if He, Okobi, and Phillip can battle it out and may the best man win.

The problem with all these backups is that all our starters were " cowher" guys for the most part so there's no telling how much that influenced their lack of playing time. Obviously they made the roster every year for a reason, right?

Chris K showed a lot of potential in his limited starts. Through him in at RG and let him play with Colon or Starks.

If Max gets a ton of money offered his way, I'd bet he'll jump ship too.

Let's get a couple good OL in the draft, atleast 1 on day 1 and maybe 2 depending on the draft shakes out, and then throw them all in the mix and see how it pans out. It'll make for some great battles to watch. You're right, evaluating talent is a crap shoot, there's virtually no sure thing in the draft at all but all you can do is hope the guys you pick pan out and contribute. Anything will be an improvement for us, especially on day 2, if atleast a couple of the draftees can make the team since virtually none of the Cowher era day 2 picks have made any significant impact for years.

Black@Gold Forever32
02-15-2007, 03:14 PM
Ok I'm one of the biggest Max Starks critics around but I don't the Steelers can let him go unless they sign a free agent RT or draft Joe Thomas. I like Willie Colon but come'on he only has started two games. To me that wouldn't be wise going into a season with only one experienced OT and that would be LT Marvell Smith. Both Essex and Colon hardly have any playing experience.

BlitzburghRockCity
02-15-2007, 03:17 PM
:plus1: Im not exactly sure we have the firepower to jump and get a Joe Thomas ;) so then the FA thought kicks in if this scenario pans out. I would think they want to keep Max and from what I know he likes it in Pittsburgh, but if he's offered a ton of cash we may not be able to match it and he'll jet.

Black@Gold Forever32
02-15-2007, 03:26 PM
:plus1: Im not exactly sure we have the firepower to jump and get a Joe Thomas ;) so then the FA thought kicks in if this scenario pans out. I would think they want to keep Max and from what I know he likes it in Pittsburgh, but if he's offered a ton of cash we may not be able to match it and he'll jet.

I don't think we have the firepower to get Joe Thomas either. Just saying I would be nervous with just having one experienced OT heading into next season. I like Willie Colon alot but if the Steelers let Starks go. Then they better have a plan to replace Starks.

Another OT I like alot other then Joe Thomas in this draft is Joe Staley. But if the Steelers let Starks go I rather have a free agent with experience brought in. Plus I think Max Starks still can be a very good OT in the NFL. I'm not ready to send him to the glue factory yet.:bluelol:

DIESELMAN
02-15-2007, 03:35 PM
We don't have a lot of cap room to play in the FA market, unless we get someone cheap. The only way these young guys will get better is by playing. Colon did good in his couple of starts (from what I hear, couldn't watch any games last season). We might be looking at another year of our OL not playing well together.

BlackGold4vr
02-15-2007, 04:05 PM
We don't have a lot of cap room to play in the FA market, unless we get someone cheap. The only way these young guys will get better is by playing. Colon did good in his couple of starts (from what I hear, couldn't watch any games last season). We might be looking at another year of our OL not playing well together.

You are right! The only way O-lineman can get better and play well together as a unit is with playing time. All of the great O-lineman that I know got thrown into the fire as rooks and learned on the job! How many seasons did it take Mike Webster to craft his trade. I believe he was part of that famous 74 draft that oh by the way they won the SB that year! Why not get excited over the play of Willie Colon who came in the last 2 games and played better than Starks had been. rookie.........3 year vet :scratch:
The upside on Colon is great and I like the nasty disposition that he plays with! :cursin: They need to draft an O-lineman or 2 and come spring training......find the best five and stick with them so they can gell as a unit! Please don't experiment all year and never give 1 unit a chance to get a rythm going. Thats all I ask! Anthony Munoz, Alan Faneca, Willie Roaf, Jonathon Ogden, Larry Allen, Walter Jones, Steve Hutchinson, Will Shields.
How many years do you think they had to play before they started kicking ***? If your good, your good and only going to get better with more playing time! IMO :lol:

K Train
02-15-2007, 04:12 PM
i really think our oline not "playing well together" was directly because hartings got manhandled week in and week out last year. now that problem is gone so look for better play out of the whole line next year.

K Train
02-15-2007, 04:23 PM
this draft would be easier if Jake Long and Sam Baker came out lol