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Monday, February 16, 2015

Heading to the combine

I'll be heading to the NFL Combine on Tuesday through Friday to speak with as many of this year's draft class as possible.

A few guys I want to talk to include Penn State's Mike Hull, who is a Canonsburg guy, Pitt's T.J. Clemmings and West Virginia wide receiver Kevin White.

But I'll also keep a close eye on the edge rushers, regardless of whether I think they can make the transition to linebacker or not.

 Kevin Colbert last week didn't dismiss the idea that the Steelers could sign a player in free agency or sign one who is strictly a 4-3 rush end.

Why not? The Steelers play a nickel defense with four "linemen" about 60 percent of the time. Even if a defensive lineman doesn't appear to have the ability to drop into coverage, he can line up at end and get after the passer.

And this team needs to improve its pass rush.

Adding a bigger body at rush end in the nickel might also help the Steelers with their run defense in that package as well.

@ I just saw a story that said Green Bay's Randall Cobb will be looking for a deal on the free agent market that will pay him $9 million per season.

That certainly makes you realize what a bargain the Steelers got when they signed Antonio Brown to a five-year, $42.5 million extension a couple of years ago.

It didn't seem so at the time, as the Steelers were more or less projecting what Brown's worth would be. But his current deal, via which he'll count $9.8 million in 2015, runs through 2017.

Brown also will count $12 million against the cap in 2016 and $10 million in 2017. But imagine what he'd get right now if he were hitting the open market.

@ I continue to hear that Ben Roethlisberger "should give the Steelers a hometown discount" on his new contract.


Roethlisberger has made a nice chunk of change from the Steelers over the past decade. But he's also earned it.

Last season, he had one fewer touchdown pass than Tom Brady and the same number of passing yards as Drew Brees, which tied for the NFL lead.

Again, why should he offer the Steelers a "hometown discount."

His job is to play football and win as many games as possible. It's up to the front office to surround him with players capable of making that possible.

And before you bring the whole Brady hometown discount into the discussion, realize that Brady is married to a supermodel who makes a lot more money than he does on his football contract. Brady is the secondary wage earner in that family.

@ The date that NFL teams could place the transition or franchise tag on players came on Monday. But there wasn't a rush by teams to do so.

Don't expect the Steelers to do so with Jason Worilds this year, even though they are painfully thin at outside linebacker if he leaves. Tagging Worilds this season would cost the team around $11 million for the transition and $13 million for the franchise.

That's just not in the cards.

If Worilds leaves, I would kick the tires on former Cleveland outside linebacker Jabaal Sheard. The former Pitt star has fallen out of favor in Cleveland. But he had 8.5 sacks as a rookie in 2011 and seven in 2012.


Anonymous said...

Steelers D played nickel exactly 48.8% of the time last year.

Dale Lolley said...

They were nickel predominantly but also played some dime in which they also use what are essentially four down linemen

Joe Jones said...

Still think Brian Orakpo is not worth discussing?

Anonymous said...

They only used dime 4 times last year. That 48.8% included dime. I didn't bother making that distinction because it represents 4 tenths of one percent of all snaps.

Anonymous said...

Orakpo's chest is due to explode again any minute now. No thankee.