Thursday, March 15, 2012

Hampton takes a cut

With Casey Hampton taking a cut in pay - it's a cut, not a restructure as some are reporting it - the Steelers' need to take a nose tackle high in the draft is a little less pressing.

And it again goes to show how the Steelers like to do business.

Pittsburgh never likes to go into a season being forced to rely on a rookie at any position, particularly on defense.

That's why there hasn't been a full-time rookie starter on the team's defense since Hampton and Kendrell Bell broke in there in 2001.

And even at that, Hampton and Bell had to earn their spots. They weren't handed the positions.

So the Steelers now have Hampton under contract, meaning they can ease a rookie into the rotation if he deserves it. The same goes at inside linebacker, where they are comfortable playing Larry Foote beside Lawrence Timmons if need be.

Certainly, things aren't so cut-and-dried on offense. But even in cases where rookies have come in and started - Ben Roethlisberger, Maurkice Pouncey, etc. - the Steelers had veteran options around just in case things took a little longer than expected.

It's the Steelers way. And it's worked for some time.

So while fans may get upset that both Bill Cowher and Mike Tomlin don't like to play rookies, the reality is that they don't like to HAVE to play rookies. And there is a difference.

29 comments:

Anonymous said...

I guess this means they don't view McLendon as starter material?

Anonymous said...

I hope they don't feel that way about McLendon, since he's not.

Steve-O said...

The beauty of this restructure is that it seals Mike Wallace's fate. The Steelers now have enough cap space to match any offer he receives so any other team that even wants to offer him a contract would have to go ridiculously high AND give the Steelers a 1st round pick. Not gonna happen.

Dale Lolley said...

No, as Colbert said at the combine, there is some unknown with McLendon since he hasn't played a full season. He's played well over a short stretch, but hasn't been the man.

Tim said...

I mostly have no problem with the way the Steelers draft and play their guys, but I am one of the ones that sometimes complains. I want them to play rookies when the rookies are better (Sanders over Randel El, for example). Or when they are involved in a blowout and the game is sealed. I still don't understand why we didn't let some of our guys get their feet wet a little during some of the games last year. It's a good opportunity to help them grow, and rest/not risk the (sometimes aging) starters.

I assume Tomlin has some kind of message to convey when he does this, I just never know what it is.

emac2 said...

I'm not sure I feel more secure with Hampton who is likely to miss the first 6 weeks or a rookie nose tackle.

Isn't nose tackle a position where a rookie isn't as big of a concern? You obviously can't throw anyone out there but a 4 year starter that's pretty smart should be able to pick that role up in an off season.

I'm not convinced that waiting for a full season of training before starting the kids is always better. I think coaches tend to fear change and ride these guys too long using the "Steelers way" as an excuse at times. It seems to two biggest recent waves of "discovery" where we realized how much young talent we really had both came during injury waves when hands were forced.

emac2 said...

Steve-o

I don't know about that locking Wallace into anything.

Even though I agree Mike has a ton of value and worry about losing him I don't know that he fits at market value even if he isn't front loaded. If he gets an offer even close I think they let him go unless it is especially cap friendly.

Anonymous said...

I definitely got frustrated by Woodley redshirting behind Haggans in 2007.

Yeah, looks highly unlikely Wallace is going anywhere.

(Other than disappearing :) )

--Anonymous Brian

TarheelFlyer said...

It is hard to argue with the way the rookies have been developed. Those who are going to be players end up fine despite not really contributing their first year. Ideally, I would like to see them involve the rookies more in areas they can help. For instance, a rookie WR can get 2 or 3 plays where they seem to excel and use them specifically there. With Wallace it would be a deep post, with Brown a WR screen, things just to get them into games, into the flow, and have some success as they work to expand their successes in the game by watching.

Anonymous said...

emac2, we've got McLendon to start the season as NT, so a rookie wouldn't have to be thrown in there right off. Ziggy Hood's also practiced a bit at the position, so he could fill in for emergencies - and we'll get Big Snack back mid-season in case McLendon can't hold up. That said, if a rookie comes in and outplays the vets, he'll get the nod.

I think we'll be ok.

Anonymous said...

how the hell can Ziggy Hood play NT? He cant even hold his own at DE

marc said...

part of hampton's pay cut was losing the workout bonus. not sure that was a good idea...lol.

they still need to take a NT in the draft who they feel will be the future starter. mclendon's not the answer. hood will stay at DE. this will probably be hampton's last season with the team.

i really wish something would get done with wallace. what if his asking price is so high no one offers him a contract and he doesn't like the steelers long term deal? potential holdout? could it become another desean jackson situation?

kyle said...

There's never a good time to hold out but it would be particularly idiotic for Wallace and his agent to decide to do that in this instance. He would have to sit out a year and become a UFA after not playing for a year and holding out for a contract squabble. Plus, some people are thinking that the way RFA works that he wouldn't get credit for this upcoming season if he holds out, thus he would be an RFA yet again next year. If nobody offers him an overpay and the Steelers a 1st AND he doesn't accept a long term deal from the Steelers then he plays for his tender and hopes to have a stand-out year.

Anonymous said...

if nobody has offered a deal to Wallace yet then I guess nobody will right?

Dale Lolley said...

If Ziggy Hood has worked at nose tackle, I haven't seen it. He works inside in the sub packages, but that's it.

Midway through his rookie season, Sanders replaced Randle El, so I don't know what the argument is there.

And Hampton is expected to be ready to open the season.

Anonymous said...

I dunno. Bouchette said back in Jan there's been internal discussions about moving Hood to nose, and has practiced there. (tho is should be acknowledged as often as he is wrong/sloppy/lazy, the Dean would do well to enroll himself in summer school, suggest English and Math).

The pay cut to Hampton suggests 'we can take you or leave you.' And there are plenty of people including Wexell saying Tomlin loves Mike Martin. Colbert and Mitchell in tow at pro day. Mike Martin is Ziggy Hood. If Martin is in it at NT, then so is Hood. A restructure almost guarantees a roster spot. However, a pay cut does not. Especially not in a final contractual year.

Keeping Hampton is insurance in case they don't get the NT they covet. If they do come away with one, Hampton is the next vet to get the goldwatch handshake. I know Colbert said they're committed to the 34. But the 34 can be configured with a number of different body types/styles. And in a league where every team now plays more nickel than base, nickel is base, 34/43 becoming less relevant. Don't need a Hampton clone to play NT in today's NFL.

KT said...

Any idea on what the Steelers real salary cap number is?

Gerry Dulac said this latest move brought it to 4.5 to 5 million, where as Scott Brown said he thought it was 6 to 8 millions.

That's a big difference. The Steelers could still "restructure" more contracts, but I would hope they can avoid that....

Steve-O said...

Dale,
If another team makes Wallace an offer, how long do the Steelers have to match it. I'm asking because I wonder if they'll do some more cuts and/or restructuring to keep him.

Dale Lolley said...

Per my estimates, Brown is correct on the cap number. But it's a pretty in flux number, since they have to count their top 51 salaries - don't know where that number comes from.

I repeat, I have never seen Hood at the nose unless it's been in the sub packages. But they have internal discussions about all kinds of things. Not all of them come to fruition.

I would disagree with Martin being just like Hood.

Martin reminds me of Chris Hoke. His measurables are 6-1, 306. High motor penetrator-type.

Ziggy is 6-3 with long arms. More suited for end.

datruth4life said...

Dale,

Are the Steelers still using the restructurings of Deebo and Polamula as their ace in the hole to resign Mike Wallace? I know they can also still release Will Allen and J. Scott to free up more room as well.

Tim said...

"Midway through his rookie season, Sanders replaced Randle El, so I don't know what the argument is there."

The fact that it took them half a season to do it. It was the clear choice to begin the season. Heck, they had Randel El returning punts for 2 yards a pop when Antonio Brown on the roster and sometimes active. They were scared. Terrified that a young player would make a mistake like drop a ball, and it all could have been avoided if only they'd gone with the reliable vet. In the meantime, big plays aren't happening.

That's not a HUGE complaint though, because they did finally catch on and fix it. It's just an example.

The "garbage time" is a separate thing though. Not saying you send in the whole JV team (certainly the OL starters stay in), but there were at least half a dozen players that could have gotten time to grow and didn't. They should be able to select appropriate times to put in appropriate players, once games have been decided and you need to start thinking about your future (future years for your youngsters, future games for your vets). Maybe they have too much stuff going on and can't be bothered.

marc said...

Lot's of WR's coming off the board. Looking better and better Steeler's will keep Wallace.

Dale Lolley said...

I don't know that it was a clear choice. Sanders was still running the wrong routes at times toward the end of the season.
Didn't happen all the time, but it did happen. Those are the kind of things that lead to silly interceptions that people blame on the QB.
Why did he throw it there? The answer is that the receiver didn't get the proper depth or cut in when he was supposed to cut out.

Anonymous said...

Seriously? El was running wrong routes and it was shocking how much of the offense he forgot in such a short time. How many timesout did they burn in the Super Bowl cuz Randel El didn't know where to line up. Nevermind. It was two. I don't know what happened to that guy, but his head was not in it.

Anonymous said...

Who cares about Randle El... Jesus

marc said...

peyton to the broncos. will they make a push for wallace now?

Anonymous said...

I don't see why they would unless Peyton had demanded it or something like that. A huge contract plus their first-round pick? Is Wallace the ideal fit for a precision timing-based offense? Or, I don't know, is he so fast, or Peyton so good, that it doesn't matter? Anyway I wouldn't do it if I were them. A healthy Peyton made pre-concussions Austin Collie a major weapon.

--Anonymous Brian

marc said...

at first glance, peyton to denver seems crazy, but then it makes total sense.

miami - nope. too many players hate the GM, Ireland. peyton probably got the same crappy vibe.

titans - nope. he wouldn't do that to the colt's fans.

redskins - nope. same division as eli.

49'ers - this was a late edition. they probably couldn't/wouldn't commit enough money.

cardinals - i thought this was a lock. perfect climate (indoors), fitzgerald at WR, wide open offense, weak division. i've got to think peyton denied the entire NFC to avoid eli.

which leaves Denver as the only interested AFC team left.

and why not make a run at wallace? i don't know their cap space (especially after signing manning) but their window is most likely 3-4 years and they are an instant contender adding manning and wallace to a good rushing team with a good defense. i'd say that is worth the first round pick.

Anonymous said...

"titans - nope. he wouldn't do that to the colt's fans.

redskins - nope. same division as eli."

Only Manning knows the reasons but I don't think these came into play in his mind....