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Saturday, July 19, 2008

One week to go

As Tom Petty says, the waiting is the hardest part.

As I write this, it's officially one week until the Steelers training camp opens next Sunday at Saint Vincent College with players reporting.

It's hard to believe another NFL season is upon us.

For me, I always look forward to training camp opening with some regret.

While I do enjoy very much what I do - otherwise I wouldn't be doing it - training camp opening up means that, at least for me, summer is over.

I'll spend much of the next six months watching practices and games and what unfolds in another NFL season.

© As of this writing, the Steelers still have two draft picks unsigned, second-rounder Limas Sweed and first-rounder Rashard Mendenhall.

Look for Sweed to get his deal done sometime later this week, with Mendenhall to follow Saturday or Sunday. At least that's the word.

© There may be another deal coming later this week as well with a veteran player already on the roster.

My source wouldn't tell me who, but the team does have some players it would like to get something done with, with perhaps Max Starks being first on that list.

Getting something done to lower Starks' salary this season and getting him signed past it would give the team some cap room to do some other things.


Ben said...

Dale, do you think there's any chance they'll resign Farrior? I know he's getting up there, but he's got some gas left in the tank. I really wouldn't mind him on the roster, in a diminished role, for a few more years. Timmons could take his spot after this season, and he could move over to the LILB spot.

He seems like he'd take a pay-cut as well.

Anonymous said...


in regards to Starks, why is their such a conflict of opinions with him(coaches & front office)??? The whole transition tender really confuses the crap out of me. I understand the reasoning for them using it but even if they work out something long term, it will still be starter money. So, that leads to my next question: Is it going to be open competiton on the line every year under Tomlin???

Blount Trauma said...

Dale, I just read somewhere else that because Starks is a transition player the deadline passed and he can't be signed to a new contract until after the season is over. They said there were no other options and we are stuck with his current contract. True?

Dale Lolley said...

That actually is the case, so it's my bad there. Tuesday was the deadline to work out any new long-term deals with those guys.
I was speculating since my source wasn't more specific.
I think there is a chance they'd re-sign Farrior, but I don't know about doing it before camp.
As for why there's a difference of opinion on Starks with the coaching staff and front office, different people have different opinions about things.
The coaching staff may be looking for something out of him that they're not seeing. They're the ones on the field every day with him.
The front office is looking at it as a viable possibility at LT should something happen with Smith. They have a better idea of what else is available out there than the coaches do.

Anonymous said...


Is Sean Mahan still considered the "starting" center? Gees, I sure hope not. He got throttled it seemed all year. I know we signed Hartwig to compete but is it realistic that Mahan could still beat him out? What's your opinion on "The Samoan Bulldozer" Chris Kemeoatu? And, in your opinion, is Hartwig a definite upgrade "The Magnificent" Mahan??? Let me know.


adamg said...

Marvel Smith is a good candidate to be the vet the Steelers might be signing to a new contract or extension. With his back problems solved, Smith should return to form as a top notch LT.

Dan G. Switzer, II said...


Starks can re-negotiate his current contract, but after the transition period deadline is over, the transition tag is lost for the remainder of the new contract.

So he can re-negotiate, but just the Steelers would lose the transition tag (which isn't that big of lost since it's the lesser of the two tags and the Steelers rarely use the tags to begin with.)

Also, there seems to be some confusion on the transition tag deadline. While the franchise tag deadline is July 15th, some stuff I've read states the transition tag deadline is July 22nd.

Anonymous said...

In Michael Lombardi's blog (former long time NFL exec), he said there are no time restrictions on Transition tags like there are for Franchise tags. They are free to sign him at any time.

Dale Lolley said...

Thanks for the input on that.
That is the problem with these tags. Different rules for different tags. And since the Steelers have rarely used them, I've never done a ton of research on them.
The last guy they tagged was Gildon, and they worked out a deal with him soon thereafter.
I think they'll wait on Marvel to make sure he's sound. Though he looked very good in OTAs. They were a little surprised he bounced back so quickly, so that was a good sign.
Mahan is still listed as the starter at center, but that's just the Steelers way. They'll probably each get a start in the preseason and then Hartwig will be named the starter.
Hartwig is an average center and has better size than Mahan. Mahan wore down last season and got worse as the year went on as he competed against larger tackles. Teams began lining up over top of him and just running him over. That won't work as well with a guy who's nearly 20 pounds heavier.
I like Kemoeatu a lot. Completely different player than Faneca, though. They may have to adjust what they try to do in terms of pulling with him.

adamg said...

Dale, what about BMac as a vet the Steelers would want to re-sign before the season? I know he hasn't beaten out Townsend yet, which is more a reflection on Townsend's vet savvy and smarts, more than McFadden's performance, IMHO.

McFadden's still young and when he's played, he's generally been sound in addition to making outstanding plays (see 2005 playoffs).

Brian said...


Per your conversations with your source, do the Steelers even have enough cap room to sign Sweed or Mendenhall without reworking some contracts? Last I saw they were less than $2 mill. under the cap (after Najeh got flushed) with a rookie pool cap allocation of $3.7 mill. Or have they done some other simple restructures that we haven't heard about in the press (mainly because they just move $$ around for cap purposes)?

If they're working out a new deal for someone I'd think it would be someone like Starks or Marvel who currently carry big hits. McFadden is in the last year of his rookie deal & is very cheap compared to what a new deal would pay him (hence, no cap savings).

Joe said...

I think you are definitely on to something Brian. I think there is little chance they are extending Willie Colon, James Harrison, Kemo or Brett Keisel unless they do not impact this year's salary cap, which would be almost impossible, especially given the uncertain labor market and possible ownership transition.

Dan G. Switzer, II said...


I found some more on the transition tag on the NFL's website:

"Clubs may designate a transition player by offering a minimum of the average of the top 10 salaries of 2007 at the player's position, or a 20 percent salary increase, whichever is greater. A transition player designation gives the club a first-refusal right to match an offer sheet within seven days given to the player by another club. If the offering club does not match the offer sheet, it receives no compensation. Transition players can be signed from Feb. 29 to July 22."

So, it does look like the Steelers should be able to sign Starks up until tomorrow night at midnight.

Anonymous said...

I'm pretty sure that just means other teams could still sign Starks to a contract up until July 22 (allowing Steelers right of first refusal), had he not already signed his tender. It's all in Article XX of the CBA, iirc?

Dale Lolley said...

Signing B-Mac now would be smart, but they may have to give him starter's money or something close to it to get it done.
It would be a gamble on his part. If he signs now and then beats out Townsend, he could lose some cash.
He would also give up a shot at free agency.
It was my understanding that they had enough cash available to sign their picks - and that was before dumping Davenport, no pun intended.

adamg said...

Townsend definately still has some football left in him, but McFadden is young and probably worth giving a starter contract. McFadden is also a fairly tall CB, something the team lacks in their CB depth chart. With more and more emphasis on tall WRs, taller CBs who can play and match up are going to be in demand.

On a side note, Dale, is Townsend still planning on going to referee school when he retires? If not, he is going to make some college or pro team a very good coach someday.

Dale Lolley said...

I don't know if Deshea is still planning that or not.
I do know he's one of the smartest players in that locker room and would make an excellent coach. That said, he's made enough money in his career that he wouldn't have to go that route unless he really wanted to.

adamg said...

Dale, I remember when Tony Dungy retired and right away Noll offered him a spot on his coaching staff. I could see the same thing with Deshea.
A few years learning under Dick LeBeau and who knows! You're right, though, he's in a great position
financially to do what he wants the rest of his life.