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  1. #1
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    Defense: free agents

    Who might be coming to town: Defensive look

    By Dale Lolley
    For SteelCityInsider.com
    Posted Mar 1, 2007

    With free agency starting Friday, here's a look at some defensive players who may interest the Steelers.

    Now that it appears that the Pittsburgh Steelers will cut ties with linebacker Joey Porter, the team’s depth at the position – already a weak point – looks as if it will be even thinner.

    The problem is that the pickings are pretty thin in this year’s free agent linebacking field when the market opens Friday. And you can bet that players such as Chicago’s Lance Briggs and Baltimore’s Adalius Thomas are going to command top dollar, something the Steelers will be unwilling to pay. In fact, Porter is also likely to draw big money on the free agent market, though probably not as much as $4.5-million base salary he was scheduled to earn with the Steelers.

    So if the Steelers are still planning on running a 3-4 defense, they’ll probably want to add at least one veteran linebacker in free agency in addition to selecting one in the first few rounds of the draft.

    The top two mid-level outside linebackers available who fit into the 3-4 defense are New England’s Tully Banta-Cain and Houston’s Antwan Peek.

    The 6-2, 250-pound Banta-Cain is coming off the best of his four NFL seasons having recorded 43 tackles and 5.5 sacks last season for the Patriots. Considered a smart overachiever, the 26-year-old Banta-Cain may just be coming into his own.

    Peek, a 6-3, 250-pound converted college defensive end is well-known to new head coach Mike Tomlin. Tomlin was an assistant coach at the University of Cincinnati when Peek was a standout defensive end there.

    Peek lost playing time in 2006 after the Texans switched from a 3-4 defense to a 4-3, but in 2005 he managed 46 tackles and six sacks.

    Two other linebackers who are well-known to Tomlin are the Minnesota duo of Napoleon Harris and E.J. Henderson.

    The 6-2, 255-pound Harris is versatile enough to play inside or outside. Harris had 59 tackles, 2.5 sacks and three interceptions starting at middle linebacker last season in Tomlin’s only year as Minnesota’s defensive coordinator.

    The 6-1, 245-pound Henderson, who was Tomlin's weakside linebacker in 2006, had his best season, recording 109 tackles, three sacks and two interceptions with one touchdown.

    Another player who is well known to the Steelers’ coaching staff is Cincinnati’s Brian Simmons, who was released Wednesday in a cost-cutting move. A nine-year NFL veteran, Simmons played under current Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau when he was Cincinnati’s head coach.

    Like Harris, Simmons is a player who can play inside or outside. The 6-3, 240-pounder excels in pass coverage, having recorded at least two interceptions in each of the past four seasons. He played inside and outside in 2006 to help ease the loss of O’Dell Thurman to suspension and had 60 tackles and two interceptions in 11 games. He recorded 83 tackles, four sacks and two interceptions playing on the outside in 2005.

    Tennessee’s Peter Sirmon is another possibility the Steelers may look at. The 6-3, 236-pound Sirmon had 88 tackles, .5 sacks and an interception in 2006.

    It’s a good thing this is a strong defensive line draft because there isn’t much second-level talent available at that position. Kansas City’s Jared Allen, Atlanta’s Patrick Kearney and Chicago’s Ian Scott figure to garner the most interest on the free agent market and will be out of Pittsburgh’s price range.

    A cheaper alternative at end could be Tampa Bay’s Dewayne White, another player Tomlin knows well from his days as a secondary coach for the Buccaneers.

    The 6-2, 273-pound White has recorded 11 sacks in the past two seasons and is well-suited to a 4-3 defense, something Tomlin has said the Steelers could shift to at times. At worst, he could offer the Steelers a pass-rushing specialist opposite Brett Keisel in the nickel and dime defense.

    If the Steelers are looking to add more beef up front, Tennessee’s Robaire Smith and Denver’s Michael Meyers could help out.

    A 10-year NFL veteran, the 6-3, 300-pound Meyers had a career-best 57 tackles to go with two sacks in 2006 playing for a Broncos’ defense that proved difficult to run the ball against.

    Smith (6-4, 310) has experience in both the 4-3 as a tackle and in the 3-4 as an end from his playing days in Houston. He had 44 tackles and half a sack last season with Tennessee after recorded a career-high 68 tackles to go with 1.5 sacks playing 3-4 end for Houston the year before.

    Given the young talent the Steelers have at cornerback and safety, it’s unlikely they will make any free agent moves at either of those positions.

    Dale Lolley appears courtesy of the Observer-Reporter.

    What sucks about all these FA suggestions is that none of them measure up to Joey Porter! Cut a star and bring in a has been?
    http://www.rushlimbaugh.com/home/daily/site_082009/home.parcoltop11.35513.ImageFile.jpg

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    BlitzburghRockCity's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BlackGold4vr View Post
    What sucks about all these FA suggestions is that none of them measure up to Joey Porter! Cut a star and bring in a has been?

    thank you ! I agree 100% !

    don't be suprised if we see atleast one of the vikings come here because Tomlin knows them and they want to continue to play for him. Those guys are alright but none of them are anything spectacular that I'd take of Joey or anybody else in our LB corp presently.

    I still don't see the logic in not giving Joey his 1 million dollar bonus this year and then trying to sign him long term after that at some point between now and 2008. That would help us alot and give us time to get our draft pics at LB some playing time to take over in 2008 if we cant resign him.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BlackGold4vr View Post
    What sucks about all these FA suggestions is that none of them measure up to Joey Porter! Cut a star and bring in a has been?
    man i couldn't agree more just doesn't make sense!

  4. #4
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    We are in agreement on Porter!

    Quote Originally Posted by TOP GUN View Post
    thank you ! I agree 100% !

    don't be suprised if we see atleast one of the vikings come here because Tomlin knows them and they want to continue to play for him. Those guys are alright but none of them are anything spectacular that I'd take of Joey or anybody else in our LB corp presently.

    I still don't see the logic in not giving Joey his 1 million dollar bonus this year and then trying to sign him long term after that at some point between now and 2008. That would help us alot and give us time to get our draft pics at LB some playing time to take over in 2008 if we cant resign him.

    I hope that they have a better plan to replace Porters presence than to just fill his roster spot with a has been! I would rather them fill his spot and Haggans with rookies! I know you (TG) are one who thinks that rookies cannot be counted on.......I disagree with you there! After a rookie plays just a few games they are no longer a rookie! Sitting on a bench and playing special teams for a couple years like J. Harrison has, only stunts the developement into a reliable starter IMO. Only position that I think benefits from some time on the bench is the QB since he has so much responsibility in running the offense. Hard to be a field general when you don't know the playbook or the weapons! Other than that the list is miles long of rookies who have stepped in and provided pro-bowl caliber play! As far as linebackers go its not that complicated! Learn your responsibilities in the different play sets, run, tackle! I think most star players can play from jump street and I also think that most teams back-ups remain back-ups and eventually get cut before ever getting a chance to start. If they weren't an upgrade at their position from the start.....why would aging on the bench enhance their inferior skills? Look at at the talk we have about drafting positions we feel are weakest and in every case there is a player on last years roster who was backing up that position. By the (sitting on the bench provides a player valuable seasoning assumption) we should't be worried at all. But I think that lots of back-up players are just not good enough and never will be to start in the NFL! Thats why we draft stars and not just middle of the pack blue collar players. We need Spencers and Okoyes and players like that who can start right out of the gate! On-the-Job-Training!
    We get 2 picks in the top 50 players (15 & 47). I am now hoping they use both of those picks on the defensive side of the ball! We have a reputation to uphold in Pittsburgh for having a nasty defense.......don't want to see that change!
    http://www.rushlimbaugh.com/home/daily/site_082009/home.parcoltop11.35513.ImageFile.jpg

  5. #5
    Satan's Helper SteelersfaninPhilly's Avatar
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    Dollars and sense.


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  6. #6
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    Banta Cain might not be a bad pickup

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    Wasn't Napoleon Harris suppose to be a superstar when he came into the league?? or am I getting him confused with someone else?

  8. #8
    House of Steel
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    Napoleon Kaufmann maybe? He was a beast running for the Raiders.

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    who did minnesota draft last year....Greenway? he could come play for us lol

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    Quote Originally Posted by House of Steel View Post
    Napoleon Kaufmann maybe? He was a beast running for the Raiders.
    Nope... I think it was Harris because he was drafted in the first round by the Raiders in 02 and started all but like 3 or 4 games as a Rookie before being traded to the Vikings where he hasn't really ever lived up to the hype. Which could be because the Vikings have never really had a good defense until last year, but then again it was only the run D that was any good! I don't know... this could be a pretty good pickup

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