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Thread: Colbert open to using free agent tags

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    Default Colbert open to using free agent tags

    Steelers' Colbert open to using free agent tags
    Saturday, February 13, 2010
    By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
    Larry Roberts/Post-GazetteSteelers nose tackle Casey Hampton will become a free agent next week.The Steelers will open contract negotiations with three of their impending free agents by the end of next week. That will give team officials about a week to decide if they should use one of the two special designations to keep the players not signed to a new contract.

    The three, as identified by team football operations director Kevin Colbert, are kicker Jeff Reed, nose tackle Casey Hampton and free safety Ryan Clark. Other impending free agents will not be approached before they can begin negotiating with other teams March 5. Those include veterans and former starters Willie Parker and Deshea Townsend.

    "I think the three starters, which includes Jeff, will be the priority," Colbert said Friday. "Any of the depth guys, we'll see where they stand and we'll see where we stand as we move into the free agency."

    The Steelers, as with all NFL teams, have two tools to protect their rights to two players if they want to use them this year. One is the franchise designation and the other is the transition. A franchise tag virtually assures that player will return for the 2010 season. The transition tag only gives the team the right to match any contract the player might sign elsewhere in free agency.

    Colbert said the Steelers will use either tag if necessary. The team did so the past two years with offensive tackle Max Starks, who then signed a long-term contract in 2009.

    "Our stance on the tags is that while we don't like to use them we're never going to say that we're not going to use something that is collectively bargained as a tool in this process," Colbert said.

    NFL teams can place either of the tags on any two players between now and Feb. 25. That will give the Steelers about one week to decide whether to use a tag on one or two of their three "priorities." If they have not signed a player to a new contract and do not put a tag on him by Feb. 25, they would risk losing him in free agency starting March 5.

    "I think there will be time," Colbert said. "Right now we're not looking at it as against the clock or anything like that."

    Colbert and his scouts have been meeting this week at the Steelers' headquarters on the South Side as they evaluate upcoming free-agent prospects from other teams and prepare for the Indianapolis scouting combine workouts Feb. 24 through March 2. Once they complete their free-agent evaluations, he said, they will begin negotiations with their own free agents, probably by next Friday.

    Colbert would not rule out the team's non-priority free agents returning. Those would include Parker and Townsend, among others. He did say the team would like to re-sign veteran backup quarterback Charlie Batch.

    "Sometimes they'll rule themselves by signing elsewhere," Colbert said. "Or over the course of free agency we sign a player from another team."

    Colbert touched on a number of topics Friday. Among them:

    On whether the team will spend more in free agency because there will be no salary cap this year: "No. We will operate as we always have. We will operate as if we have a cap because you don't know what you're going to be dealing with."

    On which positions might be a priority to fill in free agency or the draft: "This sounds generic but I don't think there's any position except for maybe quarterback where you couldn't improve your depth . ... You look at your team, again 9-7, you can add depth anywhere and you can add competition anywhere ... at 9-7 we are not good enough. And that's a collective 'we' -- offense, defense, coaching, personnel, everything."

    On when the team might negotiate extensions to young starters who have one year to go, particularly Santonio Holmes and LaMarr Woodley: "That's beyond free agency. That's most likely beyond the draft. The free agency and the draft will take priority. When you're getting that far down the road it gets even more unpredictable."

    On signing former Pitt punter Adam Graessle, who also has displayed a strong leg on kickoffs: "That's a nice quality to have because sometimes when you're getting down to camp rosters, with an 80-man roster, those versatilities and extra abilities might save you a roster spot somewhere along the way."

    On the quality of players in this year's draft: "I think the quality of the draft is excellent. It's very deep defensively. Offensively, there may not be as many big-name skill positions, but there are a lot of players. It's really a good draft. It really is."

    On the mysterious illness that ended the 2009 season of wide receiver Limas Sweed: "That's something that will be addressed at the proper time and now's not the proper time."

    He acknowledged he is entering the final year of his contract, but would not address his future. "Anything to do with my personal status I would not talk about it at this point or at any point. That's really not for me to discuss. I'm totally happy in my position at this point, sure."

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    Are these morons getting dumber or just louder-Mayor Quimby

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    Default Re: Colbert open to using free agent tags

    I know that the players say it is "disrespectful" to get tagged, but if they make a big fuss about the potential millions they could make and the need and desire a team has for that said player, maybe he is being "disrespectful" to the team he plays for. I think it is almost a compliment that a team says that you are that important that we need to do anything to keep you, even overpay you for a season. Let's face it chances are that that said player isn't the best in the league usually. Suck it up and earn your gigantic paycheck.

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    Default Re: Colbert open to using free agent tags

    I think the tag is a fair tool for both sides, the player getting a nice payday and the team being able to hold on to key players, because both sides can't agree on a fair contract.

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