Offensive linemen await their fates
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The early plans the Steelers have for remaking their offensive line should be known over the next 10 days as they either try to sign or ignore the five veteran free agents who work there.
The agent for one, starting guard Chris Kemoeatu, expects to meet with the Steelers this week and believes an offer will come out of it.
"I would hope so," said Ken Vierra. "Having not spoken with them yet, I don't know where they're at, but he's one of the better guards in the league, he's 26 and has room for improvement. If you have one of the better guards in the league, you try to keep him."
Vierra will arrive tomorrow in Indianapolis, where team personnel gather this week for the annual scouting combine, and plans to talk to the Steelers there.
Kemoeatu joins three veteran tackles -- Marvel Smith, Max Starks and Trai Essex -- as unrestricted free agents if they do not sign by Feb. 27. Tackle Willie Colon will be a restricted free agent.
Kemoeatu replaced former Pro Bowl guard Alan Faneca, who left after the 2007 season as a free agent. He started every game and earned $1,417,000, the amount he received in a one-year contract tendered him by the Steelers last year when he was a restricted free agent.
The sides tried to come to a longer contract term last year but were unable to do so for a player entering his fourth season and first as a starter.
"I did have talks with them," Vierra said. "To be honest with you ... we were talking about a guy who never started. How do you put that together?"
Vierra said Kemoeatu wants to stay with the Steelers.
"He absolutely really loves the city of Pittsburgh and, when you win the Super Bowl, everything is awesome. I need to find where they're at and where they're headed. They have a lot of things to do out there, and Chris Kemoeatu is only one of them."
The Steelers have made linebacker James Harrison, the NFL's defensive player of the year, their priority, even though he has one year left on his contract. They started negotiating with his agent, Pittsburgh's Bill Parise, two weeks ago and continue to work on an extension.
The Steelers have until tomorrow if they want to place their franchise or transition tags on any unrestricted free agents.
Ed Bouchette can be reached at email@example.com.
First published on February 18, 2009 at 12:00 am
1 of the better guards in the league? Far from it, he's no the worst though.