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Welcome to SteezBros! SteezBros is a Steeler Blog run by three brothers who are all huge Steeler fans. If the true definition of fan is fanatic, we fit the bill. We were born into Steeler fandom. Love of the Steelers goes back many generations in our family. It's in our blood. You can read our "Welcome to SteezBros" post in the archive if you are interested in more information about us and the blog. Thanks for reading and check back often!


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Back to the Future

Now that the first regular season game of the 2008 season is in the books, it’s time to focus on the future. No, I’m not talking about making reservations for Tampa for a Steelers Super Bowl. That’s still a ways off. I’m talking about the 2009 season. The Steelers front office has a strict policy of refusing to negotiate player contracts during the season, so any player with an expiring contract will likely be heading to free agency at the end of the season. Normally, Kevin Colbert and Omar Kahn do a nice job of locking up the guys we like before they get to their final year of a contract, so we don’t have to worry about matching the market price. But, this off season left much to be desired.

Yes, we did re-sign Farrior and trade Mahan. But, if you thought the re-shuffling of the offensive line this year was bad, just wait until next year. Marvel Smith and Chris Kemoeatu will be unrestricted free agents. Ditto Max Starks and Trai Essex. Willie Colon will be a restricted free agent. That’s 60% of our starting offensive line and half of our backups. The left side, Smith and Kemo, are the best players we have on our line (this may be a premature evaluation of Kemo, but if he is worse than Simmons and Colon we might as well abandon the season). If the Steelers believed in Kemo’s ability, he likely could have been signed to a cheap long-term contract because he doesn’t have much starting experience. Not signing him puts the team in a tough spot. If Kemo and Smith play well this year, they hit the free agent market and will demand big contracts. Success this year means more reshuffling next year.

Starks and Essex aren’t superstars, but they are reliable back ups. Starks has starting potential, but despite his whopping $7 million contract, hasn’t been given an opportunity to win his right tackle spot back from Willie Colon. There has been speculation that the Steelers wanted to keep him as insurance to Marvel Smith’s aching back, but surely we could have found a decent backup for less than $7 million per year. Maybe by sitting him on the bench all year, we can re-sign him at a discount rate this off season.

Since Colon is a RFA and a sub-par right tackle, I’m not overly concerned with him hitting the market. We’ll slap down a tender offer and no team in its right mind will give up draft picks to sign Colon.

In summary, that probably leaves us with Hartwig (unproven), Simmons (terrible and expensive), and Colon (bad, but with upside) with the team next year. The left side of the line remains a question mark. Maybe we sign an aging Smith or Starks to play LT. Maybe we re-sign Kemo to play right guard. Two big maybes for the best players on our line. The remaining backups left on the team are Tony Hills and Darnell Stapleton, and Jeremy Parquet from the practice squad. Certainly doesn’t feel like Tomlin and Colbert have a great long-term plan here.

It’s difficult to estimate salary cap information for next year, so I don’t know how much the Steelers will have to spend going into the offseason. But, everyone knows the Steelers aren’t going to make a big splash in the free agent market. Bryant McFadden, Nate Washington, and Charlie Batch will also be free agents. They aren’t superstars, but the Steelers will need to fill plenty of holes in the depth chart. Colbert will have plenty of work to do when this season ends.

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