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Sunday, March 04, 2012

What's next for Steelers

After the painful goodbyes of last week, the Steelers now prepare for the next step in the 2012 offseason - making their final preparations for free agency.

After last week's releases and the previous restructures the team did in the previous weeks, the Steelers are approximately $12 to $14 million under the salary cap - depending on what it finally comes in at.

The Steelers must now tender their offers to restricted free agents. That will include a first-round tender of $2.742 million for wide receiver Mike Wallace and the low tender of $1.26 million to guards Ramon Foster and Doug Legursky, both of who were undrafted, corner Keenan Lewis (third), safety Ryan Mundy (sixth) and tight end David Johnson (seventh).

That will eat up some $9 million of their newfound cap space.

Offering the low tender for Foster and Legursky is a gamble, perhaps even more so than making a first-round tender for Wallace.

With the release of Chris Kemoeatu, the Steelers have no other guards with NFL experience on their roster. Should another team decide to make an offer to Legursky or Foster that the Steelers cannot or do not want to match, they would receive no compensation.

The team does still have some cap wiggle room should it have to clear space to match an offer for Wallace or either guard.

Nose tackle Casey Hampton, who is scheduled to make $5.89 million, could be asked to take a pay cut or be released. The Steelers could also trim offensive tackle Jonathan Scott ($2.2 million) or safety Will Allen ($1.28 million).

A couple of things we do now know after last week's cuts is that A. this team values Jerricho Cotchery over Ward and will make a strong push to re-sign him, and B. Guard and inside linebacker have become the undoubted biggest needs in the draft.

The Steelers have enough money under the cap to make a strong offer for Cotchery, though, again, if they have to match any offers to their own restricted free agents, obviously, some other cuts would have to be made.

Resigning Cotchery would also preclude the team from making a strong pitch for any of their unrestricted free agents, most notably corner Will Gay or running back Mewelde Moore.


Patrick said...

There are reports that the cap number might be slightly higher than expected. Is your figure including that possibility?

They could put a higher tender, the one in between what Wallace will get and what you mentioned, on either Legursky or Foster (or both, but thats not happening) if they were that worried. But each of them are barely starting caliber G's in the NFL so its not worth it.

When you start to think Legursky and Foster would be a problem for the Steelers to lose, you realize how poor this o-line is.

I'm not worried about ILB for whatever reason. They are usually pretty capable of filling a LBer spot with a guy without much of a decorated background, that might be Sylvester or a low level FA.

TarheelFlyer said...

I really don't want to lose Legs or Foster myself. I am not a HUGE fan of either player, but they both can play a role here. If we can draft replacements for them...great, if we can draft a replacement for only 1, fine, if we just go the UFDA route and these guys start for us....I am not happy about it, but I will tolerate it. We can win with them.

Ideally, we would replace both in the draft and they would be backups on the roster for depth. Legs at C/G and Foster at G.

I think more practically, we replace only 1 with a potential starter, Foster starts and Essex comes back for additional depth. Also, don't rule out C. Scott completely. They liked him last preseason enough to look at him as a starter for a while, if he worked for the PS maybe he has a shot for a depth position coming in next year. Maybe he starts of Legs, who knows.

Gilbert, Colon, J.Scott as Tackles
Foster, Essex, and C.Scott as guards
Pouncey and Legs at Center

That would still leave 1-3 spots open for draft picks.

When it comes to ILB, I still predict that Hightower is the guy we get in the 1st round...that is just my gut.

Anonymous said...

I hope we sign Gay.

If you had told me I thought that a year ago I would have thought you were crazy.

He's pretty decent alot of the time. I know C. Allen & C. Brown are being counted on, but Ike's getting up there and, just for depth alone, Gay would help.

--Anonymous Brian

Anonymous said...

A name that nobody is mentioning for the Steelers in Zach Brown from UNC. I think he could be a better ILB than Hightower. He is listed as an OLB, but so was Timmons. That would be a freak show pair of ILB's. And Foote will be fine for a year or 2.

Anonymous said...

Cont...I just really question Hightower's ability to play in space. He's awesome "in the box", but more and more teams will be spreading the field. The athletic LB is what is needed in today's NFL.

Viktor said...

I don't see the Steelers using a 1st rnd pick on an ILB; I see them choosing an OL or DL on the first pick. Perhaps a TE as a sleeper 1st rnd pick.

Henigin said...

Anyone know what Max Starks' status is? I have no idea if he is even under contract for the upcoming season.

HACK said...

I really did not want to resign Cotchery for the simple money vs playing I want Wallace, Brown, and Sanders on the field full time....but if signing Cotchery gets Gay and Moore off the roster...then I am now all for it.

emac2 said...

We also have to clear cap space for the draft. Not giving a 2nd rd tender to one of the guards might show us how much better a bad guard is then a really bad guard.

Inside LB is a priority in the draft now? Is that so we can fill the whole in a couple of years or do we draft an immediate starter?

marc said...

assuming foote and company is a 2 year stop gap, then drafting an ILB now would make sense.

they also need to find a NT.

imo, the NT is more pressing.

TarheelFlyer said...

When you look at our roster, what do we see:

QB - Ben, Lefty (who I think we bring back), the young guys for position #3

RB - IF Mendy comes back, I like our quality here.

WR - If we resign Wallace and Cotchery, we need a #5 only as I doubt we carry 6 this coming year.

TE - I would love a guy to go into that #2 hole in front of David Johnson, in fact I would rather Saunders stay and Johnson go away. It would not surprise me if this happened. Read Bill O'Brien talk about how he identified HOW they were going to draft and use Gronk and Hernandez.

Center - Pouncey and Legs is a pretty good combo.

Guard - We have enough bodies even if we lose Legs and Foster, but not enough GOOD players. Anyone happy with Legs and Foster starting with Essex and C. Scott as backups? Not I.

Tackle - Gilbert and Colon I like. J. Scott, no like. No depth really after that which I would trust.

Defensive End - Al Woods or someone will step into that #4 spot.

NT - This is a tough one to me and it all comes down to what we are going to do on D. If the NT is only going to be on the field for 1/2 of the snaps on D, we might want to look somewhere else.

OLB - No need here. We can pick them up just about anywhere it seems.

ILB - this is about like NT to me. Can Foote, Timmons, Ivy, and Sylvester hold the position for a year with us being happy? If the ILB you draft can't cover (like some say with Hightower) and you need to bring him off when we are in the dime is that so bad if he can really stop the run and not kill you in pass coverage.

S - if Will Allen is back and Mundy is back, this comes down to long-term replacements for Troy and Ryan.

CB - if we resign Gay, the only CB we had on our roster next year that won't be back is McFadden. Everyone else I expect back. Brown and Allen I expect to play larger roles.

Dale Lolley said...

There are also reports that the cap might be lower. Nobody knows until the league releases it.

Dale Lolley said...

And Starks is an unrestricted free agent

Lance said...

I think TarheelFlyer's assesment is pretty accurate. In the draft I see our primary needs as DT, OG, ILB, after that, just depth and develpment project/best available. The Steelers will take the best available at one of those 3 positions of need, and I certainly do not see them being big players in free agency as usual, but after the feeding frenzy they will take a look to see what value is out there.

adamg said...

One thing for sure, all those young and new guys the coaches are loathe to play are going to be significant part of the 2012 team.

Whack said...

Regardless what happens with Mike Wallace... sign w/Steelers... sign somewhere else...

I will believe it was a calculated move by the Steelers front office.

marc said...

The young guys have been getting worked in the past couple years. I think the team has done an excellent job with this transition.

Anonymous said...

It will be interesting to see what happens with Wallace.

1. He plays in 2012 under the restricted tender

2. Steelers sign him to an extension

3. Other team makes him an offer that Steelers match

4. Steelers decline to match offer and get first-round pick

I don't know which scenario is most likely.

Dale Lolley said...

He signs the original tender and they work out a deal that is finalized as training camp begins.

Patrick said...

Heres my problem with a deal with Wallace, besides what he gets paid. Lets assume he gets $7.5 mil a year, and thats probably a low ball figure. Next year, what do you give Brown, the ssme thing? What if Brown significantly outplays Wallace?

I don't see Brown being happy with a one year tender next season if Wallace gets an extension this offseason.

Theres also the issue of Sanders, but Brown seems like more of a complex situation.

bruinmann77 said...

I guess the Steelers fo are smart enough and will do what they can to either get Wallace Signed or take the 1st round pick.
I have to think the steelers will have to go ILB,G,NT in some combo in the first 3 rounds.I think the steelers are going to make a deal with Cotchery because they need a veteran slot reciever. I think will bring bring back Leftwich also as the #2 guy.I think it might be intresting that the steelers will need to move the tender offer to the better guard of the 2.

adamg said...

marc, Tomlin and his coaches have actually said they don't like playing young/rookie players. Last year they were prodded into doing it when Rooney said he wanted to see a better job of integrating the young players sooner.
They played the younger guys, but I doubt they were happy about it and I doubt they'll be happy about doing it again this season.

Viktor said...

Hood and Heyward have to step up this season; it would probably be a big gamble if they head into the season without drafting a NT in the first two rounds. It would not be terrible having the #1 TE in the draft fall to them AND drafting a NT in the first round IF Wallace walks.

Dale Lolley said...

They will play young guys if the young guys are the best option. See Maurkice Pouncey as an example.

Anonymous said...

If Wallace walks we won't draft a TE in the first round. Would be a waste considering the need of ILB. If anything I'd package the two picks to move way up and draft Kuechly, then draft regularly. Especially if we are only going to have chump change left under the casiri sign the draft picks by the time we are done tendering our RFA's.

kyle said...

there are no Tight Ends in this draft worth the 24th overall pick. also, i did minimal research going through the last few pro bowls (not the best yard stick, i admit) and 2/3 of the pro bowl guards did not play guard in college. most were tackles, some were DL, and i remember at least one was a converted TE. unless you have alan faneca lined up, it seems silly to draft a guard in the first round. unless he was a fluke player, the chances are he was the third best lineman on his team.

Anonymous said...

why r u idiots talking about drafting a tight end early? not only does that not make any sense, this is one of the worst drafts for TEs in years

Wallace is as good as gone. Minnesota could sign him and only have to give up a 2nd rd pick

Nate said...

Teams have to give up a first round pick for Wallace. If a team doesn't have a 2012 first round pick, they can't make an offer for Wallace.

marc said...

whether they like it or not, they have been doing it. someone mentioned at some point the offense (without ward) is the second youngest in the league.

the defense was obviously older, but last year we saw hood, heyward, mclendon, and the young cornerbacks all get additional or extensive time. add to that relatively young timmons and woodley.

seems to be working just fine to me.

you're an old goat looking for something to chew

other_patrick said...

" Dale Lolley said...
And Starks is an unrestricted free agent"

and injured and fairly old as well.

He's done. He should be recognized as the player to get the most money out of the Steelers relative to his worth. He could manage my investments any time...

Dale -- any thoughts on whether Ziggy might slide to NT? seems there's a lot of depth at end with Bryant, Heyward, Keisel still and it's maybe easier to draft a DE than a NT in the mid-rounds.

Anonymous said...

Ziggy better put on some lbs, I believe they drafted him for this purpose but with big snack and Hoke anchoring the middle they slid him over. I would say he would have to add another 30 lbs and gain a little at the bench press..

Dale Lolley said...

Moving Ziggy to NT would be silly, in my opinion. It's one thing to play him inside on passing downs. It's another to have him there to hold the middle and occupy two blockers. Don't think he can do it.

Viktor said...

Mr. Dolley, do you think Janoris Jenkins CB (5'10", 185, North Alabama) will be drafted in the 1st round? Seems unlikely that the Steelers will take him in the 1st rnd with his marijuana issues, your thoughts?

Patty said...

Dolley - can woodley play NT? He's fat enough

Dale Lolley said...

Jenkins will likely be taken in the first round by somebody. Won't be the Steelers.
Too many red flags with that kid.

marc said...

i'm curious, does anyone here have a problem with the "bounty" system being used in the nfl by some teams.

personally, i've never liked trying to knock guys out of games. when i played baseball i would hear guys say, "slide in high and try to take him out of the game" or "plunk him in the ribs so he can't swing." i always wanted to beat the other team when they had their best on the field so they had no excuses.

i don't have a problem with the nfl teams' "reward system" for good plays. sounds like fun actually. but, IF it spills over into malicious intent to injure, then that is something that should be stopped.

Anonymous said...

I am putting a bounty on Patrick

Viktor said...

Thank you and I just noticed my error; Mr.Lolley not Dolley :)

Whack said...

Question: Is it known if the Steelers are currently negotiating with Mike Wallace on a long term deal?

or is this a case where the front office are content to wait and see if another team makes an offer to Wallace first?

Anonymous said...

Jenkins will likely be taken in the first round by somebody. Won't be the Steelers.
Too many red flags with that kid.

Can't ignore eyepopping stats: Had as many children last year as Passes Defended. Twice as many kids as INTs. Impressive ratios. One year at N Alabama, 4 kids by 3 women. Move over Antonio Cromartie.

Usta be the 40 was a legit key indicator for skill positions. Now it's how many kids can you sire in the shortest amount of time. How soon will we see that event at the Combine? Rich Eisen: "This concludes our broadcast day at Indy. To continue with your late night Combine coverage, please tune over to Cinemax at this time."

marc said...

you'd think these programs would be dropping boxes of condoms off at these kids' doors with an anonymous note, "it's for your own good."

TarheelFlyer said...

I think a financial incentive for clean plays is fine. A Bounty to INJURE

Look, I think J. Harrison made an important distinction about the game. He gets played to hurt people, not injure them. Hurting them is causing them pain. If you sack the QB, you want him to think twice before he stands in there and tries to deliver that strike again. Injure means you want them out of the game, like twisting an ankle or breaking a collar bone.

Personally, I hope the Steelers DON'T have a bounty system in place, but I would have the Ravens to be caught green-handed.

Anonymous said...

No, the Steelers have not been in negotiations with any of their potential free agents. They'll let the market set the price, as they usually do

Anonymous said...

Obviously you are not Jericho Cotchery's agent.

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B said...

Hey Dale,

Any early indications on which prospects the Steelers are targeting early on?

Saw that Colbert was at Bama's pro day...yet...I feel that he was examining Kirkpatrick and Barron more closely than Hightower at the 1.24 spot. Hightower's injury is troubling enough to warrant a 1.24 pick IMO.

Let's hope that the Mike Adams love-fest at OSU's pro day is all smoke and mirrors...he seems like the anti-Steeler given his character history.