Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Blair in the NFL?

Sportingnews.com had an interesting blurb today about Pitt center DeJuan Blair considering the NFL as a potential fallback option if his future in the NBA doesn't work out.

I had the same conversation with somebody in the Steelers front office late in the season last year.

I mentioned that Blair, with his massive wing span and quick feet would be an ideal offensive tackle. He'd just have to put on about 20 or so pounds - which I don't think would be a real problem for him.

The front office official agreed.

That said, Blair has a future in th NBA - if he can develop a 10 to 15-foot jump shot.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Steelers open preseason against Cardinals

The preseason will begin in 2009 the same way the 2008 season ended for the Steelers - playing the Arizona Cardinals.

This time, however, the two won't be playing for a Super Bowl championship. Pittsburgh will host Arizona Aug. 13 according to the preseason schedule released by the NFL Monday. The game will be televised by ESPN.

In Week 2, the Steelers will travel to Washington, while Buffalo visits Pittsburgh in Week 3.

The Steelers' final preseason game will be at Carolina.

Missing from the schedule is the annual Philadelphia-Pittsburgh series.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Smith signs with 49ers

According to the Santa Rosa Press, offensive tackle Marvel Smith has signed a contract with the San Francisco 49ers.

The oft-injured left tackle agreed to an incentive-laden deal to prove that his back, which has required surgery in each of the past two years, will hold up.

Interestingly enough, the 49ers also released equally oft-injured tackle Jonas Jennings Friday.

If they're hoping Smith will help ease that loss, they apparently haven't learned much from Jennings playing in just 23 of a possible 64 games since signing him to a seven-year, $36 million deal in 2005.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Steelers men's fantasy camp date set

Re; From the Steelers

Registration is now open for the seventh annual Steelers Men’s Fantasy Camp presented by Rolling Rock with special guest Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver # 86 Hines Ward!

The Pittsburgh Steelers invite you to join us at Steelers Training Camp from Friday June 5 - Sunday June 7. This dream weekend begins with a tour of Heinz Field in Pittsburgh on Friday afternoon at either 12:00 or 2:00 pm. Your weekend at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe will begin with registration at 5:00 pm Friday. You will have a once in a lifetime opportunity to have your own photo professionally taken with the Super Bowl XLIII Lombardi Trophy on Friday evening.

In addition to the Friday evening activities, your entire weekend includes:

Dorm housing, meals and a special Steelers gift bag.
Steelers Alumni Tunch Ilkin and Craig Wolfley will be present all weekend as your hosts
Two on-field practices Saturday afternoon conducted by current Steelers players and Alumni such as #9 Dan Sepulveda, #60 Greg Warren, Dermontti Dawson, Frank Pollard, Louis Lipps, Edmund Nelson, Jerry Olsavsky and Delton Hall.
A Saturday afternoon Team Meeting conducted by a current Steelers coach
A Saturday evening banquet featuring Steelers Wide Receiver #86 Hines Ward as the guest speaker
Tickets to all 2009 Steelers home games will be raffled off on Saturday evening.
A Skills Competition divided by age groups on Sunday with great prizes for the winners.
On Sunday, the Dinner and the awards ceremony will conclude by 1:30 pm.
Your cost for this all inclusive weekend is $599 per person.
TO REGISTER: Please go to http://news.steelers.com/article/103818 to fill out the entry form and physical form. Please mail those forms along with a check or money order for $599 made payable to the Pittsburgh Steelers to the following address:

2009 Men’s Fantasy Camp
Pittsburgh Steelers
100 Art Rooney Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15212

If you have any additional questions, please contact us at 412-697-7713.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Compensatory pick scam solved

There's been much teeth gnashing in the past couple of days since the NFL announced its compensatory picks and the Steelers did not get the third-round selection everyone assumed they'd receive for the loss of Pro Bowl guard Alan Faneca, instead getting a fifth-round pick.

Turns out, it's part of the rules.

According to the compensatory pick rules, teams that lose a player with 10 or more NFL seasons under their belt are awarded a pick no higher than the fifth round for that player.

Thus the Steelers were awarded the highest pick they could have received for losing Faneca.

I guess even AdamJT13 doesn't know everything about how compensatory picks are awarded.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The guru responds to the compensatory scam

As visitors to this blog well know, I look to AdamJT13 (his code name) to figure out the compensatory picks each year. He's right a heck of a lot more often than he's wrong.

That said, Adam, who got 26 of the 32 picks right this year, is a little steamed about missing so badly on the Steelers' compensation. Pittsburgh, of course, received a fifth-round selection when Adam felt the Steelers would get a third.

"The one surprise that I can't explain is the Steelers getting only a fifth-round pick after losing two players (Alan Faneca and Clark Haggans) and signing one (Mewelde Moore). Haggans and Moore had seventh-round values and should have canceled out each other. Faneca played 99 percent of the snaps, made the Pro Bowl and got a huge contract ($7.8 million per season, plus a little more that doesn't count in the equation). He clearly had a third-round value, so I'm curious about why the Steelers got a fifth. Hopefully the media in Pittsburgh will look into it and get an answer," Adam wrote on his blog http://adamjt13.blogspot.com/

Monday, March 23, 2009

Stallworth part of new ownership group

The NFL owners approved three new partners to the Steelers' ownership group Monday, including former star wide receiver John Stallworth.

Stallworth, a Hall of Fame receiver for the Steelers, is President and CEO of Genesis II.

Also included in the new group are Bruce V. Rauner, Chairman of GTCR Golder Rauner, LLC, and the Varischetti family.

Rauner, Stallworth and the Varischetti family join James Haslam III, the Paul family and Thomas Tull as new partners with Dan and Art II to help maintain the Rooney family ownership of the Steelers.

The agreement among the Rooney family for closing the transaction was originally set to take place before March 31, 2009, but with the possible addition of new investors the closing will be postponed until May, 2009.

© The Steelers, as had been rumored, will open the 2009 regular season at Heinz Field Sept. 20 against the Tennessee Titans.

It's an attractive matchup, especially given the Titans' shenanigans after beating the Steelers in Nashville last December to claim the top seed in the AFC playoffs.

How'd that work out, anyhow?

© Surprisingly, the Steelers received only a fifth-round compensatory pick from the league on Monday.

Nobody truly understands the process through which compensatory picks are awarded and now I may understand it even less.

Ravens ducking the Steelers?

Geez, you take a week off after a month of minimal action and all hell breaks loose.

There was plenty happening in Steelers' land in the past week, so let's catch up.

© According to the Baltimore Sun last week, the Ravens have asked the league not to play in Pittsburgh during prime time.

The Steelers should return the favor but they won’t.

When the schedule is released, the Steelers will be playing a full slate of prime time games. If the league had any guts, it would give the Ravens none – or at least none at home.

You don’t want to play your biggest rival in prime time, you pay the price.

© As expected, Dan Rooney was nominated to be the U.S. ambassador to Ireland.

There had been many rumors about this during the season, so it really didn't come as a surprise.

And Rooney's a great choice.

When the Steelers went to Ireland in 1997 to play the Bears, Rooney scheduled a trip for us all to Belfast, taking us to a church there where he had been working with a local priest to help foster negotiations between the Catholics and Protestants.

It's something that's very near and dear to his heart and he makes several trips there per year.

© The Steelers made a number of minor signings last week, all bringing back there own players. The most notable player was Trai Essex, their swing man on the offensive line.

I know, real exciting.

© Louisville center Eric Wood is scheduled to visit the Steelers in the next couple of weeks and it a definite possibility to be the team's first-round draft pick.

In fact, over the past decade or so, you could get a good hint at who the Steelers will draft by looking at the list of who they bring in for a visit.

This year, that list so far includes:

Pitt LB Scott McKillop and center/guard C.J. Davis, Penn State center A.Q. Shipley and now Wood.

The first three, since they are local players, don't count against the team's official visits.

Friday, March 13, 2009

On Vacation

I will be on a much-needed vacation for the next week and won't be updating the blog until next weekend.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Steelers re-sign Frazier

The Steelers have re-signed backup linebacker Andre Frazier to a two-year deal worth $1.375 million.

Frazier's a career backup, but has stepped in and played OK over the years when called upon. He's also a solid, if unspectacular, special teams player.

© There's still no news on any of the other free agents the team has been speaking to, including their own.

As usual, though, the Steelers are in no hurry.

And the compensatory pick is …

Over the past few years, a gentleman who guys by the moniker of AdamJT13 on KFFL.com has picked up quite a following with his predictions about the NFL's compensatory picks.

In fact, he's become something of a Nostradamus in this area, getting an average of just under 24 of 32 correct over the past seven years. Considering nobody is really sure of how the NFL comes up with the compensatory picks, that's not bad.

Adam has come up with his list for comp picks, which won't be officially announced until the owner's meetings at the end of this month.

Here's what he came up with:

THIRD ROUND
New England (Asante Samuel, $9.3567 million per season, 15 GP/15 GS, Pro Bowl)
Pittsburgh (Alan Faneca, $7.8 million, 16/16, Pro Bowl)
Cincinnati (Justin Smith, $7 million, 16/16) – possibly a fourth-round pick

FOURTH ROUND
Chicago (Bernard Berrian, $6.9 million, 16/13) – possibly a third-round pick
N.Y. Giants (Gibril Wilson, $6.5008 million, 16/15) – possibly a third-round pick
San Diego (Michael Turner, $5.75 million, 16/16, Pro Bowl) – possibly a third-round pick
San Diego (Drayton Florence, $5.9333 million, 15/8)
Tennessee (Antwan Odom, $5.9 million, 12/8)
Indianapolis (Jake Scott, $4.8 million, 16/16) – possibly a fifth-round pick

FIFTH ROUND
San Francisco (Kwame Harris, $4.6667 million, 14/11)
New England (Donte Stallworth, $4.5393 million, 11/7)
Dallas (Jacques Reeves, $4 million, 16/16) – possibly a sixth-round pick
Tennessee (Travis LaBoy, $4.4 million, 13/12) – possibly a sixth-round pick

SIXTH ROUND
Tennessee (Randy Starks, $3.885 million, 16/4)
New England (Randall Gay, $3.3125 million, 14/13)
Dallas (Julius Jones, $2.9 million, 15/10)
Cincinnati (Landon Johnson, $2.733 million, 15/0) – possibly a seventh-round pick
San Francisco (Marques Douglas, $2.525 million, 16/0) – possibly a seventh-round pick

SEVENTH ROUND
Tennessee (Ben Hartsock, $2.25 million, 11/11)
Washington (Mark Brunell, $1.755 million, 2/0)
Seattle (Chuck Darby, $1.467 million, 15/15)
Seattle (Ellis Wyms, $1.4 million, 16/0)
Chicago (John Gilmore, $1.333 million, 16/10)
Seattle (Kevin Bentley, $1.3 million, 16/7)
Chicago (Brendon Ayanbadejo, $1.223 million, 16/0, Pro Bowl)
Cincinnati (Bryan Robinson, $1.2125 million, 16/15)
Seattle (D.J. Hackett, $1.2 million, 9/2)
Jacksonville (Terry Cousin, $1.115 million, 16/0)
Detroit (net-value comp pick, lost three for $10.721 million, 38/22; signed three for $7.134 million, 42/31)
Arizona (net-value comp pick, lost three for $9.45 million, 46/42; signed three for $6.9625 million, 40/27)
Detroit (non-compensatory pick)
Kansas City (non-compensatory pick)

So Adam has the Steelers getting a third for the loss of Alan Faneca, with the loss of Clark Haggans being offset by the signing of Mewelde Moore. Adam doesn't include the signing of Keyaron Fox in his figures, so that could affect things.

Center Justin Hartwig was released by Carolina, so he was a street free agent when the Steelers signed him. He won't affect the compensatory picks, much the same way Kendall Simmons won't affect the Steelers next year.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Carr to visit Wednesday

It appears that free agent Tennessee cornerback Chris Carr will visit Pittsburgh Wednesday as the Steelers begin looking to add free agent depth after losing Bryant McFadden to Arizona.

Carr, as many frequent visitors to this site know, has been one of the free agents I felt the Steelers would target.

He won't be a starter for them, but he would certainly give them somebody of stepping into the lineup in a pinch, while also doubling as their return man.

© There's been no movement with Joey Galloway to this point. Doesn't mean that he won't eventually sign with the Steelers, but they're being patient.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Adding Galloway would make sense

When wide receiver Joey Galloway was released a couple of weeks ago by the Tampa Bay Bucs, I have to admit, I didn't see how the Steelers could be interested in a 37-year-old receiver who played in just nine games last season.

But with the Steelers bringing him in for a visit Monday, I began thinking about why they would be interested and it started to make sense.

First, Galloway won't be looking for any kind of long-term deal or big money. Those days are long past him.

The Bellaire, Ohio, native, would also get a chance to come back to his hometown area - it's located just across the Ohio River from Wheeling, W. Va. – to finish off what has been a solid career while keeping the Steelers from relying solely on Limas Sweed as their No. 3.

Then there is the facat that as a former Ohio State star, he carries instant credibility with Santonio Holmes and could help further Holmes' maturation into a No. 1 receiver.

And finally, he also wouldn't challenge Hines Ward's "leader of the wideouts" role that he has given himself. The leader – as he is affectionately called by the media – likes to run the show with the receivers. Galloway won't challenge that.

In retrospect, after thinking about all of those things, this is a visit I should have seen coming.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

McFadden signs with Cardinals

The Arizona Cardinals signed former Steelers cornerback Bryant McFadden to a two-year contract Sunday worth a reported $10 million.

McFadden made eight regular-season starts last season while helping lead the Steelers to a Super Bowl victory over the Cardinals. He had 54 tackles and one sack despite missing six games due to an arm injury.

McFadden returned from his injury and started the final three regular-season games and also all three of the Steelers’ postseason games. He also had three tackles in the Super Bowl.

The 27-year-old McFadden was a second-round draft pick by the Steelers in 2005 out of Florida State.

McFadden's loss leaves the Steelers with Ike Taylor, William Gay, Deshea Townsend and Anthony Madison at the cornerback position.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Smith signs with Green Bay

Safety Anthony Smith signed a free agent deal with the Green Bay Packers, reuniting him with former Steelers secondary coach Darren Perry.

Perry was the Steelers' secondary coach in 2006 when Smith was selected by the team in the third round.

He was one of the few defensive coaches new head coach Mike Tomlin didn't keep from Bill Cowher's staff, eventually landing a similar job in Green Bay.

Smith often showed promise with the Steelers but also made his share of boneheaded mistakes, landing him in Tomlin's dog house.

The team finally decided not to tender him an offer this year as a restricted free agent.

© According to ProFootballTalk.com, cornerback Bryant McFadden is close to making a decision about where he'll sign.

The site claims the Steelers cornerback will choose between Pittsburgh, Arizona, Miami and Philadelphia.

It was known that Arizona and Miami were interested, but Philadelphia is a newcomer if that's the case.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Steelers close in on Fox

Linebacker Keyaron Fox, a key member of the Steelers' special teams unit, is close to signing a new deal with the team.

Other than that, there's not a lot of free agent action happening with the Steelers.

But that's nothing new for the team.

Other than a few quick signings over the years – Jeff Hartings, Kevin Greene, Duce Staley – the Steelers are more content to let things happen, allow the market to settle and the big spenders to finish their business and then sift through what's left.

© In other news, the Steelers have apparently brought wide receiver Martin Nance back into the fold, though they didn't announce it.

Nance, who played at Miami (Ohio) with Ben Roethlisberger, wasn't among the group of players signed after the Super Bowl.

But it appears that after Nate Washington signed with Tennessee and then offensive coordinator Bruce Arians talked about him being a possible replacement, they brought him back.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

No news good news with McFadden

As we get deeper into the free agency period, nothing has happened to date with Steelers cornerback Bryant McFadden.

And in this case, no news is good news.

McFadden was in Arizona early this week, but has not come to a contract agreement with the Cardinals.

The longer he waits, fewer jobs there are available out there.

That said, I still don't expect to see McFadden back in Pittsburgh unless the Steelers are willing to do something drastic, such as release veteran cornerback Deshea Townsend.

But releasing Townsend would be a very unpopular move in the locker room, where he is one of the leaders.

It would also be very non-Steelers-like.

They just don't have a ton of cap space and unless McFadden is willing to accept something less than what he could get elsewhere - as guard Chris Kemoeatu did – he won't be back.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Steelers lose Washington to Titans

As expected, Steelers wide receiver Nate Washington has left, signing a free agent contract with the Tennessee Titans.

Washington, the Steelers' No. 3 receiver, has outstanding speed and leaping ability, but his hands are average.

The Steelers signed Washington as an unrestricted rookie free agent in 2004 out of Tiffin University, a Division II school.

Pittsburgh is counting on 2008 second-round draft pick Limas Sweed to step into a more prominent role in 2009. But they will also likely bring in a veteran to compete with Sweed for the No. 3 spot behind starters Hines Ward and Santonio Holmes.

Who might fit in that role?

Detroit's Mike Furrey is 32, but might be able to push Sweed.

Carolina's D.J. Hackett or Detroit's Shaun McDonald, a pair of 28-year-old receivers, or Oakland's Ronald Curry might also be good fits.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Somebody was listening

One of the free agents I felt the Steelers should target was Tennessee cornerback/kick returner Chris Carr.

According to The Tennessean in Nashville, the Steelers have contact Carr about a visit - possibly happening this week.

Carr returns both kicks and punts and also has some starting experience at cornerback - though he's better served as a nickel guy.

He'd be an outstanding signing for the Steelers if they can get it done.