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    Default Focus switches to draft

    Focus switches to draft
    Bob Labriola -- Steelers.com
    3-16-2010



    Colbert says team's attention is now on NFL Draft

    Kevin Colbert has been in the NFL long enough to know someone in his position never says never, and so he wouldn’t admit the Steelers are finished with free agency after re-signing three of their own and adding five players from other teams over the course of the opening 10 days of the period.

    But he did admit the Steelers would be taking a break.

    “At this point, I can say, we’re re-focusing,” said Colbert. “We’re not out of free agency, but we’re really re-focusing on draft preparation. But like I said something could happen where a player becomes available …”

    The Steelers usually wait out the opening phase of free agency each year, because that’s typically when the ridiculous money is paid to a select few, with the $100 million given to Albert Haynesworth in 2009 and the $91.5 million to Julius Peppers about a week ago as the two most recent examples. The Steelers didn’t go there, but they did act quickly in identifying the players they wanted and then got contracts done that fit into their structure.

    “We never go into an offseason with x-number of players we want to sign,” said Colbert, “however, there were players available we felt could help us, and we were able to make deals. Really, that’s what it boils down to.”

    As always, the Steelers’ primary focus as the offseason began was identifying the players it wanted to keep, and they accomplished that by getting new deals done with Casey Hampton and Ryan Clark and using the franchise tag on Jeff Reed to buy more time in working out something long-term with him as well.

    Then the Steelers tried to strengthen their depth in the areas made possible by the available pool of players.

    Arnaz Battle and Antwaan Randle El bolster a group of wide receivers that have Hines Ward, Santonio Holmes, Mike Wallace and nothing else in the way of real NFL experience. If Trai Essex is considered a guard, there were no backup tackles on the roster with any game experience until Jonathan Scott was signed.

    On defense, the team now has some injury insurance where the addition of Larry Foote gives the team a veteran to turn to in the event of an injury either to an inside linebacker or an outside linebacker. Will Allen can play either strong safety or free safety, and he and Battle both are versatile special teams additions.

    “We had the flurry of activity, or however you want to say it, and we’ll continue to monitor our own (free agents) as well as others,” said Colbert, “but really the focus is going to shift more heavily toward the college draft.”

    Colbert also said the team has not closed the door on any of its own unrestricted free agents. That list currently includes quarterback Charlie Batch, running backs Carey Davis and Willie Parker, guard Darnell Stapleton, defensive ends Travis Kirschke and Nick Eason and defensive backs Deshea Townsend and Tyrone Carter.

    http://www.steelers.com/news/article...3-65a7c1d49023
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    Default Re: Focus switches to draft

    Steelers' signings finally come to end
    Tuesday, March 16, 2010
    By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

    The Steelers will pause to catch their breath after a week of spending in free agency like few others in their history.

    The spate of signings ended Monday.

    "We had the flurry of activity, however you want to say it," director of football operations Kevin Colbert said Monday afternoon, "and we'll continue to monitor our own as well as others, but really the focus is going to shift more heavily toward the college draft."

    They might not have imitated the Washington Redskins, who infamously overspend this time of year, but they certainly were un-Steelers-like in their aggressive approach.

    Prodigal-son linebacker Larry Foote officially returned Monday to become the fifth outside free agent and the sixth total, including Ryan Clark, to sign in the past week. Counting their signing of Casey Hampton and the issuing of the franchise tag to Jeff Reed in the days before they could become free agents, the Steelers have locked up eight players -- three of their own, five from other teams.

    Those eight have received contracts totaling $63,259,00, including $14.1 million in signing bonuses.

    The Steelers rarely have been so aggressive in free agency, especially in recent years. Last year, for example, they signed only two unrestricted free agents and waited until the end of April and beginning of May to do so -- cornerback Keiwan Ratliff and wide receiver Shaun McDonald. They signed only three total in each of 2008 and '07 and only one in '06 and one in '05.

    Why now?

    "We never go into an offseason with 'X' number of players we want to sign," Colbert said. "However, there were players available that we felt could help us and we were able to make a deal."

    Colbert said it had nothing to do with this year having no team salary caps.

    "You can't use the word 'cap' but we're going to do things within our own structure," Colbert said. "And we were able to do these things within what we went into with our structure."

    The largest contracts went to their own free agents -- Hampton earned an average of $7.1 million over three years including a $6.5 million signing bonus and Clark earned $3.5 million on average over four years with a $3 million signing bonus. Foote's one-year excursion to his hometown of Detroit paid off in his return to the Steelers, who signed him to a three-year contract that averages $3.1 million annually and includes a $1.8 million signing bonus.

    No visits by other free agents are planned and unless another player pops loose or some other circumstance warrants it, the Steelers' signings may have ended with Foote.

    "I would say we're not done," Colbert said. "We're never going to close the door because players available now, obviously some will be taken off the market but there may be others to come onto the market and then we would have to adjust at that point."

    Neither are they active in trying to re-sign any of their own free agents such as halfback Willie Parker or defensive ends Nick Eason or Travis Kirschke, nor any of their restricted free agents. None of the Steelers' free agents has signed elsewhere yet.

    Asked specifically about Parker, their starting running back since 2005 who lost his job after an injury early last season, Colbert said, "We'll never close the door on any of our guys."

    As for those they did sign: "What we wanted to do was add competition and depth, and those free agents we think have started the process of the offseason additions. And now we want to continue that with the draft. There's really nothing more than that."

    http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10075/1043168-66.stm
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    Default Re: Focus switches to draft

    From the 1st article:

    Colbert also said the team has not closed the door on any of its own unrestricted free agents. That list currently includes quarterback Charlie Batch, running backs Carey Davis and Willie Parker, guard Darnell Stapleton, defensive ends Travis Kirschke and Nick Eason and defensive backs Deshea Townsend and Tyrone Carter.


    Why do I get the feeling that we will see no less than 3 of those players back in black and gold? Maybe even more after they test the waters...and get no bites. You would think that after seeing Foote come back....they would have more sense.

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    Default Re: Focus switches to draft

    Well, if they come back at a cheap price after testing the market, it might be a financially good deal, who knows...
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    Default Re: Focus switches to draft

    Quote Originally Posted by NKySteeler View Post
    This quote is hidden because you are ignoring this member. Show Quote
    Well, if they come back at a cheap price after testing the market, it might be a financially good deal, who knows...
    I won't have a problem with it under those circumstances...a couple I don't think it matters...but some will keep give us depth in those positions.

    Charlie...might be good for 1 more...just so we have a little confidence at the position...but then again a lot hinges on Meathead's situation.

    The DB's...no biggie either way.

    The DL's...might could squeeze 1 more year out of Eason.

    The RB's.....FWP at the right price could satisfy my mind as having someone very familiar, hungry, and somewhat still capable.

    Darnell.....if the price is right adds depth at several OL spots.

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