Steelers put contract extensions on hold for now
Monday, August 08, 2011
By Gerry Dulac, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The Steelers want to "let the dust settle a little" and consider possible free-agent signings before they even think about doing contract extensions for Pro Bowl safety Troy Polamalu or inside linebacker Lawrence Timmons, the Post-Gazette has learned.

Sunday, they started the process of looking at free agents when they brought former New York Jets wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery to their Saint Vincent College training camp in Latrobe. Cotchery was scheduled to have a physical at night and will meet with them again this morning.

He has told the Steelers he plans to meet with other NFL teams, including the Baltimore Ravens.

With injuries to Hines Ward (thumb) and Emmanuel Sanders (foot), the Steelers have been short of experienced receivers at training camp. They are also looking for a slot receiver, and Cotchery (6 feet, 203 pounds) fits the bill. He has spent all eight NFL seasons with the Jets, where he had 358 catches for 4,514 yards and 18 touchdowns in his career.

Ward is expected to return to practice today when the players return after an off day. Sanders could return a week later on Aug. 15.

The Steelers also would like to bring in another veteran tight end to compete for the No. 2 spot behind Heath Miller and could consider former Cincinnati Bengals tight end Reggie Kelly, an unrestricted free agent.

Curiously, the Steelers wanted to sign former teammate Plaxico Burress and former New England Patriots tight end Daniel Graham when they brought them to training camp more than a week ago. But they were unable to sign either one because they didn't have enough room under the salary cap.

Polamalu and Timmons are unrestricted free agents after the 2011 season and both players will be re-signed at some point, though it is not clear when. But, after restructuring six contracts and signing franchise player LaMarr Woodley to a six-year deal, the Steelers want to concentrate more on preparing their roster for the upcoming season with possible free-agent signings.

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