Who are the SteezBros?

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!


GO STEELERS!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Max Starks Signs Long-term Deal

The Steelers announced that Max Starks signed a four-year deal today. The initial report did not include the value of the contract, but John Clayton at ESPN.com is reporting that it is for $26.3 million over four years. The team can now revoke the franchise tag from Starks that would have paid him $8.5 million in 2009.

The new contract provided both sides with something it strongly desired. For Starks, it was long-term security. For the Steelers, it was cap relief. As a result of the signing, Pittsburgh cleared about $3 million from its salary cap - money that will likely be used to sign one of the many pending free agents. Dale Lolley, a sports reporter covering the Steelers, speculates that the front office is targeting Heath Miller as the next player to receive an extension.

I have mixed feelings about the signing.

THE BAD
It's rare for Kevin Colbert and our beloved front office to place themselves in a bad spot financially with a non-superstar player. But that's exactly what they did with Max Starks. After Starks lost his starting job to Willie Colon in 2007, rumors were flying that Starks and Tomlin didn't get along. What other explanation was there for losing the starting right tackle job - after winning a Super Bowl no less- to Willie Colon? With the coaching staff's preference for Colon, it seemed likely Starks would leave in free agency or sign a small contract worthy of a back up. Inexplicably, without any reports of demand for Starks (since this blogger is privy to that sort of information), Kevin Colbert chose to apply the infrequently used transition tag, which guaranteed Starks $7 million for 2008. At $7 million, Starks was the second highest paid player on the team behind Ben Roethlisberger. Tomlin had little input on this signing because, despite the front office's belief that was worth a big contract, Starks started the 2008 season as a back up. A $7 million back up.

In hindsight, the signing of Starks was huge for the Steelers. Marvel Smith was injured early in the season and Starks played admirably at left tackle for the rest of the regular season and playoffs. The offensive line struggled as a whole, Starks included, but his play at left tackle helped us to win a Super Bowl. Nonetheless, the offensive line was still the biggest weakness of the team. Some in the media called it the worst line to ever win a Super Bowl. And I've been hardpressed to find a single scout that ranks any of the Steeler lineman among the top half of the league. In my opinion, Starks was the best offensive lineman on the team, which isn't saying much, but he is nowhere near one of the best in the league.

After this past season, Starks was once again a free agent. The Steelers had three free agents on the offensive line, Starks, Kemo, and Colon. To maintain a semblance of continuity on the line, the team needed to keep several of these lineman. Starks was top priority. But instead of aggressively pursuing a contract before free agency, the Steelers slapped the franchise tag on him, guaranteeing that he would be paid like a top five left tackle. Now I wanted to keep Starks, but guaranteeing him $8.5 million when the team was already tight with cap space didn't seem smart to me.

However, the new contract lessens the cap hit to less than $7 million per year. It's much better than $8.5 million in 2009, but still a lot to pay for an average left tackle. The Steelers now have more than $11 million tied up on the left side of an offensive line that was one of the worst in the league. Color me less than excited.


THE GOOD
Considering the position they were in, the front office did a terrific job negotiating a contract extension. Max Starks had most of the leverage in this game, because at worst he could play 2009 for $8.5 million. The Steelers knew they would have to pay more than the $8.5 million in guaranteed money, and provide a lucrative salary, or Starks could walk. The deal, which offers only $10 million in guarantees and decreased his salary to less than $7 million per year, was even better than I thought possible. The team now has cap space to go after other important players. $7 million per year is still a lot for an average player, but the salary cap keeps increasing, and as a result, so do player salaries, expecially at the coveted left tackle position.

The good news not related to cap space is that the Steelers have the left tackle position set for the next four years. Even though Starks wasn't incredible at left tackle in 2008, he is a relatively new starter at the position. He has less than two seasons practicing there and has the tools and size needed to develop into a good player that can protect Big Ben's backside. It also provides the Steelers with some continuity on the O-line going into 2009. Continuity is one of the most important factors in offensive line play. I still think the O-line needs to get better players on the interior and right side of the line, but all of the signings this year will enable the team to transition (add Kraig Urbik and Shipley if they develop nicely) without making wholesale changes.

OVERALL
Given the position of the front office, they did an incredible job getting a contract in place early in the offseason. The extension provides long-term stability at the left tackle position, and it provides the team with cap room that was desperately needed. I wasn't thrilled with how the team handled the contracts for Max Starks in the past, but this was the best for which the Steelers could have hoped.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Steez Cafe

The other day my roommate who plays football for Pitt took me to the UPMC Southside facility where Pitt and the Steez practice to eat lunch at the Steelers Cafe knowing how much I love the Steelers and that I would really enjoy seeing them. We got down there and walked through the indoor practice field and across the parking lot full of luxury vehicles, most populated by models made by Cadillac. I quickly pointed out Max Starks Black Hummer as I saw him drive past my house in it last week. We then walk into the Steelers side of the complex which I have never been in (I've been in the Pitt side a few times with a field trip or a friend who plays) with no resistance from the guard at the door. We then walked in to the cafeteria and ordered a sandwich and me being a Steez Cafe virgin not knowing how things worked took a bunch of shit for not knowing what I wanted and changing my mind from the Lunch Lady behind the counter. She was extremely nice and knowledgeable though. She told us that the Steez were practicing at Heinz Field today and that they should be returning very shortly and will shower up and come eat. Sure enough as we looked out the window four buses were pulling into the facility. If the buses were blue, our coach eight million years old, and our players college athletes playing in the middle of nowhere it would have been exactly like Happy Vally. The first person of the buses was Mikey T with Bungy attached directly to his hip much like JoePa and Zach Mills or Michael Robinson. The next player off the bus who was almost attached to Ben's hip was Jeff "Skippy" Reed (might have thought he was a Sheetz towel dispenser). Then the masses unloaded from the buses and every player you could think of was there except for Tone. As we continued to eat some coaches I didn't recognize filed in and the first player in the cafeteria was Ben. As the players and coaches had just received their new rings which are literally twice the size of the XL ring I was hoping that one of them would be wearing the ring but alas no dice. Ben was wearing a nice pair of capri sweatpants however. He quickly grabbed a cup of soup and a water and tried to dart out. A guy asked him about how he thought he would play at Bethpage and Ben excitedly answered that he'll find out this weekend. He genuinely seemed to be pumped about getting to play the Open course much like anyone would be. Apparently playing on the greatest stage of one sport doesn't prevent you from getting giddy about playing a practice round on another. Overall it was a cool experience and it was nice to get to see the players but nothing too exciting just a little insight that the guys are really just regular guys that happen to get paid a shitload of money to play football.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Santonio Holmes Cleared of Drug Charges


Per PFT, the drug charge against Santonio has been thrown out because the arresting officer did not have probable cause to pull over Santonio's vehicle. Thankfully, this means that he most likely will not be suspended by the league next season. He already was suspended for one game by the Steelers which he served last season. There is an outside chance the league could impose some sort of penalty, financial or otherwise, due to the fact that a small amount of pot was found in his vehicle. Under the league's personal conduct policy, there is no requirement for a conviction to impose discipline on a player for conduct that violates the policy.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Bling Bling

Championship!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

BUNGY INJURED IN OTA


Ben injured his knee today during a voluntary workout today. According to the Post Gazette he "limped heavily" during and after practice. He was not seen wearing any brace or support after practice however. Is this just another embellishment by Bungy ala his broken toes his rookie year or are he and Mikey T (who both declined to comment after practice) just downplaying this as it may be significant? Personally I am not too worried. Any other opinions?