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Monday, January 09, 2012

Monday news and notes

Mike Tomlin said today that given another opportunity, he'd defend Tim Tebow the same way.

I actually don't blame him. Tebow hadn't shown the ability to throw the ball like he did on Sunday in previous weeks.

And Ike Taylor had more than done his job throughout this season on the opposing team's No. 1 receiver.

There was no reason to believe Tebow would suddenly become John Elway and Taylor would no longer be able to tackle in the open field.

© A report surfaced today that Hines Ward told his teammates he was probably retiring.

That may have been the way Ward was leaning prior to Sunday's game – if the Steelers made a long run in the playoffs.

But something tells me he'll want to come back in 2012 if the Steelers want him. He won't want to go out with a loss and without a reception.

For the Steelers, bringing Ward – at a discounted price – back could make sense.

Ward will count $4.6 million against the 2012 cap with a base salary of $4 million. If he cuts that in half, having a veteran leader behind the disappearing Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown and somewhat brittle Emmanuel Sanders could be a plus. That becomes even more critical if the Steelers are unable to bring Jerricho Cotchery back.

© The same thing could be said of James Farrior.

Farrior's base salary is just $2.8 million next season with a cap value of $3.8. If he's willing to take a cut, his veteran presence could be big.

© So where do the Steelers find the $15 to $20 million they are going to need to get under the cap next year?

Casey Hampton is scheduled to make $4.9 million in 2012 and has a cap value of just over $8 million. That might be a place to start, particularly if the team can get a young nose tackle in the draft.

Guard Chris Kemoeatu and his $3.5 million salary would be another place to look. Then you've got Bryant McFadden ($2.5 million) and Johnathan Scott ($2.2 million), Will Allen ($1.2 million) and Arnaz Battle ($1 million) that could also free up some cash.

The Steelers have been blessed in recent years to have some veteran backups. But those veteran backups also cost more money. The team is likely going to have to go with more youngsters behind their starters in 2012.

© If I had to bet, Aaron Smith and Chris Hoke will retire. Charlie Batch might as well, though the team could coax him to come back one more time if Byron Leftwich is not re-signed. William Gay probably played well enough this year to get himself a contract elsewhere (Detroit anyone?). Dennis Dixon, Mewelde Moore and Daniel Sepulveda won't be back.


Anonymous said...

Yes the game plan coming in was OK, but ones Tebow and Ike prove the plan wasn't going to work, Why didn't they adjust?

I am in shock about the last play call "inverse cover two", talk about a gamble against a QB that has prove to you that he can pass. Do you gamble your season like that after what you have seen all game, base on what you saw on film?

Dale Lolley said...

The problem was that both safeties, who were supposed to be 8 to 10 yards deep rather than 15, bit up. Had they stayed back instead of crashing the line of scrimmage, they force Tebow to put some touch on the pass to get it over them or break it up.

Steve-O said...

I know Dixon never turned into the NFL pocket passer that we needed as a backup but it sure seems like the Steelers got frosty on him in a hurry. If Leftwich hadn't sustained a season ending injury I suspect he would've been sent packing after the preseason. Was there anything specific that soured them on him? Its not as if they didn't know he was a Kordell Stewart type of QB when they drafted him.

bruinmann77 said...

Bad scheme on the last drive was terrible and that was the issue . but Dale what was the excuse for wasting so much time on that final drive. Dale do the steelers tender Wallace a first round tender?. I am sure Mr Kahn is already busy figuring out the Cap.
I hear K Lewis might get a higher tender also? Dale what veterans might have played their last game? Dale do you feel their be any changes on the coaching staff

Dale Lolley said...

Obviously, in terms of coaching changes, they may need a new RB coach. Outside of that, who would you replace?
I know, I know. Arians. But that's unlikely to happen.

As for Dixon, he wants a chance to start somewhere and wasn't shy about having his agent express that opinion. The other two guys were also better.
Dixon was a value pick when they took him.

They have to tender Lewis high because if they let Gay go in free agency, he's their next most experienced corner after Taylor.

bruinmann77 said...

Dale no i was not jumping on Arians but their some issues with him the bubble screens and the inability in the red zone to score td. It a shame for Coach Wilson . I was curious if Coach lebeau was going to retire. Dale the main reason why i can't say we need to rid Arians is not sure who is out there to replace him.

Anonymous said...

I think Moore coming back still depends on Batch. If he doesn't recover from his acl then Moore should be back as he is our best 3rd down back

Patrick said...

maybe tomlin should retire.

If they come back with the Tomlin/Arians/Ben three headed bag of air triumvirate, then nothing is going to change. And the more the D ages and changes, the less likely it is too hold up those 3 and their collective genius.

The clock management has been piss poor for 3 straight years, at least. It took blowing a playoff game to the 8-8 Tebow led Broncos for the fans to discover that? And the majority of it I would say is directly in Ben's hands. But when that problem is week after week and it doesn't change, its a coaching problem. The only way to fix it is to replace BA with a coordinator who will get on Ben. We all know Tomlin won't - he'll just talk and act like he would at his press conferences and everyone will kiss his ass for it.

What a sad season this was. 12-4 (I don't care who was on their schedule) to get embarrassed by Tebow and John Fox.

Dale Lolley said...

I don't care what coordinator you bring in, the franchise quarterback is still going to have some pull/say. I see people saying he should be benched if he doesn't do this/that. This isn't your high school football team. The QB is making more money than the entire coaching staff combined.

And no, I don't think LeBeau is retiring.

Patrick said...

its not about him being benched. I didn't say that. Its about getting on Ben to say learn how to call a timeout, stop changing plays, anticipate the situation and understand the one you are in.

Did you see O'Brien get into a shouting match with Brady? Maybe thats needed.

The point is when it is over and over and over again, someone needs to step in. And it ain't Dick LeBeau

Anonymous said...

Lmao at ward and farrior coming back next year.

Anonymous said...

I hope Ward retires and takes the decision out of the Steelers' hands.

Antonio Brown gets Mike Wallace's money if it comes down to some sort of 2005 Ward vs. Burress decision, right? That wouldn't happen this year, but long term, I mean...

Farrior should retire or be cut. Same with Aaron Smith. Hampton can come back at a reduced salary as a backup / DL rotation if he feels like it (although the ACL is worrisome for his "conditioning").

Can't believe I'm saying this but I hope we keep Gay.

McFadden, gone.

Would LOVE to re-sign Cotchery.

Batch should retire. We should cut Leftwich (he'll never be healthy). Dixon's leaving, so what, he's not an NFL QB. Just go sign a random AJ Feely-type who's hanging around in early August with nothing to do, & draft a QB in the 7th round (unless trading that pick up to get a muscular punter).

I wouldn't have minded getting whipped by the Pats. At least it would be one more week to watch...

Pats vs. the winner of Giants / Packers in the Super Bowl.

adamg said...

The QB is making more money than the entire coaching staff combined.
IMHO, that is the problem in a nutshell.

A good point about the young WRs. Wallace's regression has to be a concern as does Sanders' ability to stay healthy. Cotchery is hardly a lock to return. All those factors make the wr corps less solid than it looks on paper. If it's true St Louis is interested in taking a wr for Bradford with the 2nd pick, if I'm Colbert, I'm seriously mulling if I'm better off making a tender to Wallace or seeing if a package can be built around him to get that #2 pick. They'd have their choice of the best player not named Luck.

I don't believe any of the cap numbers that, as far as I can tell, are based on some analysis by an amateur on the internet. I doubt the Steelers, whose owner helped negotiate the CBA and who employ a cap specialist/staff, would allow themselves to have to get so far over the cap, they'd have to release 20-25% of the roster before any other moves.

Anonymous said...

Dan Connor is an interesting UFA to consider. I don't think he quite lived up to the billing he had coming out of Penn State, but he's a solid MLB and a Pennsylvania kid.

Anonymous said...

i stopped reading after Dale suggested Ward and Farrior come back next year


Anonymous said...

I don't want to lose Wallace. He's a huge asset to the offense when he's actually making plays, obviously.

Just that if in the long term he and Brown are both going to command #1 receiver money, I'd rather have the better all-around receiver than someone who's a little soft & still a bit of a one-trick pony.

Anonymous said...

Dale --

What was the deal with Ben's hat after the game on Sunday? I thought when you got married you weren't supposed to make those kinds of mistakes. Did Arians call for him to wear it?

marc said...

no, arians took his lips off ben's ass and told him it looked great, then promptly put his lips back where they were.

kidding aside, it is quite an uncomfortable feeling to think #7 has any pull/say regarding the offense/time management/future OC/direction of the team. he is a good QB who can play great at times, but he is not the "cerebral" type.

coaches coach, players play. the steelers should keep it that way and, if possible, install an OC who can bring the hammer when necessary.

Anonymous said...

No way man, Ben is a wild pony who can be tamed by no OC brainiac. He is like the Brad Pitt character in Legends of the Fall, only he wrestles D-lineman instead of bears. If you told him to throw short passes when they're giving them to you or pay attention to down & distance it would be like cutting Samson's hair. Ben has been to three Super Bowls, it is impossible for him or the offense to get any better than that!

adamg said...

If Wallace had even kept up his play from the first half, I don't think there'd be any question he'd get a contract extention. But, he really did go backwards the second half of the year. It will be a tough call for Colbert. Is he a Bob Hayes or a Nate Washington? Wallace could bring the high draft choice the Steelers need if they are going to get the "stud (name position)"
to complete rebuilding of OL, DL, etc.

You then could get a guy like say, Derek Moye, whose stock has probably fallen and might be a bit of a project, later in the draft. Yet, Moye was the PIAA 100 and 200 meter champ several years in a row, he's a tough kid and he's tall too.

joe said...

i'm hoping when arians tells tomlin he is seriously considering retiring, tomlin doesn't try to talk him back this year. if tomlin can't man up and make his first coaching change, he has more issues as a head coach than i thought. they need an outsider to come in and break up the norm between tomlin/ben/arians. ben needs to watch a lot of tape this off season and have it pointed out to him all the times he could have hit the open guy in the flat for a short gain instead of trying for the bomb and getting hit/sacked/fumble instead of takiing the safe throw.

next years team will (should) be a bit odd to see at first, because guys we have grown used to the last 8-10 years will be gone. smith, farrior, hampton, kemo, ward, hoke, batch, should be gone. ward, if he wants to play for vet minimum would be a great presence to have on the sidelines and a solid backup, i just wonder if he wants to ride the bench all season though.

if the rumour about st louis wanting a reciever is true and they would take wallace straight up for a second, even though i like wallace, i would do it. should be able to get a day one starting left tackle at number two.

adamg. i don't understand why you don't believe they are way over next's years cap ? figure it up yourself if you don't believe the "amatuers" it's true. but i am sure the steelers had a plan in place months ago to deal with it. and they have a few extra weeks this year now that they are out of it

adamg said...

There are many nuances to the NFL salary. It's not straight forward like the NHL cap. The contracts are not made public, so no one really knows what, where or how each part of the individual's player contracts counts against the cap.

Remember every contract must be approved by the league office to be in compliance with the salary cap before it can become official as well.

The Steelers have never been so far over the cap that they've had to release large numbers of players. Why would that be the case now, especially since Rooney was in the room actually negotiating the language of the new CBA and the new contracts given out this season were done so with that knowledge?

I guess it's nice that internet equivilent of "some dude" made a stab at estimating where the Steelers stand with regard to next year's cap (not even set yet), but it certainly shouldn't be regarded as anything more than that.

Will there be changeover? Absolutely, but how much is related to the salary cap is pure speculation at this point.

BTW, I don't think StL would take Wallace straight up for it's pick, but a reasonable package, which would include the Steelers 1st pick, might be able to be assembled around him.

Anonymous said...

Why would Rams want Wallace when they can just draft Justin Blackmon. I'd like to see the steelers find a way to draft ILB Dont'a Hightower from Bama. But he might have locked himself into the top 15 after last nights BCS game.

bruinmann77 said...

Dale Ed Bouchette hinted that some cioaches don't want Hines back and if they cut him he play next season with another team. I hope this does not happen cuase the young guys could use another year learning under Ward

joe said...

ok adam. steelers are well under the cap next season. oh, how do we know every year other teams are well over the cap ?

looks like the coaches have soured on hines like they did on starks. another mistake imo

Anonymous said...

there are a lot of good ILBers in this draft.

Along with Dont'a Hightower, there are 2-3 rated about the same. One will def. fall to us. We should take ILB first then focus on the line

Kevin said...

Luke Kuechly
Vontaze Burfict
Donta Hightower

All 3 of those are projected to be stud MLBers, they are beasts

Getting one of them could do to our D what drafting Ray Lewis did for the Ravens. Also dont forget the Ravens are also looking for Ray's replacement. Getting one of those 3 guys in the first is our best move

Dale Lolley said...

Some of the coaches didn't want Ward back two years ago. But, as a practical thing, as I stated, they may need him if they can't re-sign Cotchery. Sanders' injury history is troublesome. A recurring foot problem for a wide receiver, however talented, is troublesome.

As for Ward and Farrior coming back, I was simply stating their desire. Both could be back in reserve roles. Both were basically in reserve-type roles by season's end. Though Farrior still started, he split time almost evenly with Foote. If they choose to move Timmons over - which I think they eventually will - it would help to have Farrior there to help him with the transition. Plus he gives you a veteran backup and a locker room leader on a defense that is going to need one.

As for Hampton, you echoed my thoughts exactly. He'll be pushing 450 by April if he's unable to work out.

DD said...

I'd like some further discussion on clock mgt. BenTomlin combo has to be one of the worst in the league. And it is totally a repeated offense time and time again. It is a valid pt and should be a big concern. It isn't rocket science.

As for draft, stay away from Vontaze. He is extremely talented, but a very big headcase. Can never trust an Erickson recruit. They aren't the brightest of the stars

TarheelFlyer said...

First, let me say that this guy: Vontaze Burfict should never reach a Steeler uniform. He is a headcase, and his skill set isn't what this LB core needs. We need a run stopper in the middle. It will allow our current athlete to roam the field making more plays and allow better run defense.

Second, looking to next year. Any vet that wants to come back should be allowed a discounted rate. It does not appear we can afford to pay Ward 4 million dollars to be the #5 receiver.

Third, looking at the draft. I see these as our needs:

On defense:

NT: I think this position has changed due to Sunday's game. I didn't see NT as a need, but I think Casey will be done. ACL for him will ruin his conditioning. I like Steve McLendon, but at some point in the draft or through wise scouting and signing of a UDFA we will need to add someone else.

DE: We are set here IMO. Heyward and Hood and Keisel will be a great 3 man rotation. We just need to find a depth guy. It could b A. Smith as the #4 at a cheap salary and not dressing every week, or it could be Al Woods who they must like or they wouldn't keep bringing him back.

ILB: Replacement for Farrior. Farrior I think can come back for 1 more year, but that is to tutor his eventual replacement. I have projected Hightower from ALA in my mock. Overall at LB, I like our talent. Harrison, Woodley, Carter, Worilds, Sylvester, Foote, Timmons, and the draft pick gives you 8, but if Farrior comes back we will carry 9.

CB: Despite our improvement here, I think we still need to draft 1 more guy. McFadden won't be here and Gay may not be here. Brown and Allen and Lewis will take larger roles, but we probably need to take 1 in this draft as well.

S: We have 3 guys I like. W. Allen won't be back and I'm not sure we have a S to provide any depth at the position. McFadden could move there and contribute as a depth guy, but I don't think he will do that unless he is willing to take a BIG paycut. He isn't a corner any more, so he would need to make his living at S.

On Offense:

QB: Ben and Lefty will make a better duo than we had ALL this year. Either we bring Batch back at the vet minimum, we draft a project really late, or we go the UDFA route.

RB: Mendy, Redman, Dwyer, Batch, and Clay are more than we will carry regularly. Spawn would love a shot. We won't take anyone.

WR: I think Dale is COMPLETELY right on this one. We need Ward to decide things quickly for us choosing is he willing to be the #5 option at a vet for Steeler discount. If yes, then he can come back. Cotchery I would love to have back, but I think he will want a larger role than we will offer him. Brown, Wallace and Sanders are options 1-3, but we need a guy for the #4 spot should Ward retire and Cotchery walk. I expect we take a WR in the draft at some point. My preference is a BIG WR who is willing and able to work the middle of the field. It is something we really lack. None of the options 1-3 are this, and it is something we really really lack.

TE: No need to draft anyone, but bring in a UDFA to push Johnson. Find a way to use Saunders more.

C: No needs here. Pouncey and Legs make a great combination especially with Legs versatility.

G: Yes please. Kemo will be gone. Foster wasn't bad, but ideally you upgrade this position somehow as well. I am curious to know how C. Scott progressed this year while on the PS. He could earn a backup/depth spot next year. He may have to compete with Essex. Even if you count on him, that is still only 2 Guards...we need 2 more. This is a BIG position of need. BIG!

T: I think we have our starters for next year in Gilbert and Colon. We have ZERO depth. Starks might be a depth option or maybe someone on the PS, but we need to draft one maybe 2 Tackles as well.

adamg said...

Joe, honestly I have no real idea where the team stands with regard to next year's cap. The people who do know pretty much exactly aren't talking, so everything else is just speculation based on incomplete information.

Don't forget Cromartie-Smith is a safety, but what with the passing offenses being what they are, safety may be a position that ultimately gets de-emphasized in favor of 3 and 4 CB nickel and dime defenses like the Steelers played vs NE.

Despite the denials, I think there's still tension in the locker room between Ward and BR and maybe some coaches have chosen sides.

Dale Lolley said...

Burfict is a headcase

Anonymous said...

Speaking of head cases, why in God's name did James Farrior call "tails"?

marc said...

tails never fails! - kinda

who knows how things will shake out with the cap and injury rehab. whether hampton is back or not, the need a NT from this draft. they need another OL and an ILB. those should be top 3 picks (in no particular order) as long as the quality is there.

free agency, more injury updates, resigning, lack of resigning...there's just too much to happen to look at the draft right now.

i'm rooting for the giants. i want to see them upset the pats in the super bowl again.

Dale Lolley said...

They always take tails. Every time.

I think the Saints win the Super Bowl.

Jim said...

Every since "I called tails, Ref!"

Anonymous said...

I think Pats beat the winner of the Giants / Packers game.

However, IF the Ravens beat the Pats and are up against one of the mega offenses (GB or NO), part of me wants to root for the, you know, football team rather than the video game offense teams. I don't know if I could actually go through with it. I know this makes me a bad person but I'm just being honest here. There are worse things about me.

Anonymous said...

Burfict is the headcase this defense needs. Instill some nasty back to this defense. That kid's a monster, meanest man on the field at all times is what the other players say about him. He'll go before we get a chance to draft him though. I do think just as highly of Hightower though.

Dale Lolley said...

How many stupid penalties did Burfict draw this season? A bunch. Late hits, hits out of bounds, etc. There's nastiness and then there's just plain stupidity.
James Harrison is nasty. Burfict is stupid.

Steve-O said...

Given their position at 24 in the April NFL Draft I'm leaning towards David DeCastro, OG, Stanford or Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis. Both players are solid and obvious need picks. I'm guessing DeCastro is gone by 24, if he's still there he's an easy pick but the more likely scenario is Poe. The guys is built for NT and will immediately brighten the future for our ILBs the way Ngata kept Ray Lewis looking like a stud well beyond his prime.

adamg said...

Well, so much for BA being released, he'll be back next year. Yippee!

Mark said...

Assuming that the team is willing/able to bring back Hines next year, I'm thinking it would be useful to have Hines be the 3rd quarterback. The coaches appear to have little faith in Dixon, and C. Batch might retire. Hines has played some QB in the past (big numbers for the 1995 Peach Bowl). The team rarely plays the 3rd quarterback or the 6th receiver, so having him provide depth at both positions would free a roster spot. Plus, they could try the rare trick play, like a wildcat formation with Hines getting the snap.

marc said...

arians will be back, therefore we can already count on:

1. good opening drives until the defense adjusts.
2. #7 running around with his head cut off. that's apparently part of the offensive game plan.
3. lack of consistency in point production/red zone efficiency.
4. misused running backs.
5. 7.8 WR screens per game.
6. long, deep passes to covered WR's. (the uncovered ones are closer to the line of scrimmage).
7. more influence on the offense from #7 - ughhh.
8. hideous clock managment at the end of the half/game (imo, that is a 3-headed monster problem.)

well, at least we know what to expect, so we won't be surprised when it happens.

for 2011, the steelers were 12th in yards per game, but 21st in points per game. with the talent on this offense, that is a failure, imo.

Anonymous said...

If Aaron Smith does retire, what is his 'cap relief' worth?