Sunday, February 10, 2008
The Steelers this week will open contract talks with some of their players who can become unrestricted free agents and one who cannot -- quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
Roethlisberger has two years left on the contract he signed as a rookie in 2004, but both sides have expressed a desire to reach a contract extension this year.
Getting a contract extension and getting one quickly was one of three wishes Roethlisberger said he had for the offseason during a Jan. 15 interview.
"I'm eager, anxious, because I want to get it done with. I want to say let's go, let's get it over with so the talks can stop, people can stop bugging me about it," he said. "Because I just want to play football.''
His other two desires were to keep guard Alan Faneca from leaving as a free agent and to find a tall wide receiver. Finding a tall, talented wide receiver would be difficult enough, but keeping Faneca is seen as near impossible. Nevertheless, the Steelers plan to make at least one more phone call to Faneca's agent.
They also may make a pitch for tackle Max Starks, but they believe he will leave in free agency. Other Steelers who would become unrestricted Feb. 29 are linebacker Clark Haggans, defensive ends Travis Kirschke and Nick Eason, fullback Dan Kreider, quarterback Brian St. Pierre, running back Verron Haynes and linebacker Marquis Cooper.
Their restricted free agents are tackle Trai Essex, guard Chris Kemoeatu, receiver Nate Washington, linebacker Andre Frazier and long snapper Greg Warren. The interesting part will come when the team must tender one-year offers to maintain their rights; the higher the offer, the more they protect themselves from losing the player.
Kemoeatu, for example, should command a high offer because he's likely to replace Faneca as the starting left guard.