Hampton senses his time is up with Steelers
No contract talks in progress
Wednesday, September 02, 2009
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Steelers nose tackle Casey Hampton is entering the final year of his contract.
Casey Hampton laughed yesterday and so did coordinator Dick LeBeau over the "report" on the NFL Network that the four-time Pro Bowl nose tackle could be cut or traded before the start of the season.
That has as good a chance of happening as did the signing of Michael Vick by the Steelers.
What's not a laughing matter is that this could be Hampton's last season here and, the way he spoke yesterday, it likely will be his last with the Steelers.
Let Hampton connect the dots.
"Yeah, it's coming down to that," Hampton said. "If they don't do contracts during the season, then that'll make me a free agent."
"If I get to free agency, man, I mean everybody knows what it is. So I don't need to say something about that. If they let me get to free agency, everybody knows what it's going to be, so there's no need to even talk about it."
Did someone say talk? There has been nothing of the kind on a contract extension for Hampton, one of six starters who will play under their final contract year in 2009. He actually will earn less in salary this season than last, more than $700,000 less. His salary for 2009 is $3,075,000. It was $3.8 million last season.
At that, he looks like a bargain, even as he turns 32 years old tomorrow. He is one year older than defensive end Brett Keisel, who now makes more than Hampton after signing his new contract Monday for five years and nearly $19 million with a $5 million signing bonus.
The Steelers also could put the franchise tag on Hampton next season, which would require a one-year contract of more than $6 million.
"They ain't going to do that," Hampton insisted. "It ain't going to happen."
Hampton does not want to think about why the Steelers signed his linemate -- who has not made a Pro Bowl --and not him, and he does not want to think about what might happen after the season.
"All that don't matter, man," Hampton said. "My main focus is going back to the Super Bowl. I ain't no selfish guy, I've never been a selfish guy since I've been here. I've always been a team guy, and my main focus is to get back to the Super Bowl, helping these guys and showing them how to work and get back to it. We can't get complacent like we were last time. That's my goal."
Yet there are times he just cannot help himself.
"Being here this long and just being here and playing for them this period of time, I'm not going to lie and say it doesn't bother me because I do want to be here. You know what I'm saying? And I would like the security of being here, but I understand it's a business."
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