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Author Topic: Why will we be better next year?  (Read 2218 times)
Steelerdipwad
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« on: Feb 02, 2009 at 10:18 »

Enough living in the past.

So, Mendenhall will be back, and should help the running game. We HAVE to look at linemen in free agency and in the draft. Where else do you upgrade?
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« Reply #1 on: Feb 02, 2009 at 10:22 »

Offensive coaching staff.  Can you guess who I mean?
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« Reply #2 on: Feb 02, 2009 at 10:30 »

Enough living in the past.

So, Mendenhall will be back, and should help the running game. We HAVE to look at linemen in free agency and in the draft. Where else do you upgrade?

I think we go into this offseason in very good shape. Mendenhall coming back next year will be huge -- we're essentially going to have two first-round picks join the team next year, given that we won the Super Bowl this year without him.

Reasons the team may be better next year:

1.) Mendenhall --if he is a star back, he could make our offense great. Our offense was weird this year - overall, I think a pretty average unit. BUT - a big but - it was exceptional at making big plays and playing in the clutch. Mendenhall could add some consistent chain-moving next year.

2.) Youth on defense -- Woodley is a star. Timmons is a star role player already and next year he may become a bona fide playmaker every down. I have high hopes for William Gay, too.

3.) Ben -- I think he'll be even better next year, and, if we find a way to fix the running game, he'll be crazy-good.

4.) O-line -- this unit can't get worse. And this offseason, we will not be able to ignore this unit simply because so many of the guys are at the end of their contracts.

5.) The schedule -- looking ahead at the schedule is usually pointless. A good dozen teams suprise you every year. But next year it is going to be a much easier schedule than this year; it just has to be. We play the AFC WEST and the NFC NORTH. There are very few good QBs among those teams.

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« Reply #3 on: Feb 02, 2009 at 10:30 »

Enough living in the past.

So, Mendenhall will be back, and should help the running game. We HAVE to look at linemen in free agency and in the draft. Where else do you upgrade?

LOL - we get 24 hours don't we?
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« Reply #4 on: Feb 02, 2009 at 10:37 »

There are potential problems this team has, too, looking at next year.

Reasons we might decline:

1.) Age on the D-Line. This is my big fear. The starting 3 are in their 30s and the depth, Hoke aside, is minimal. If these guys can't dominate the run, we'll lose some of the  effectiveness that made our pass coverage so amazing.

2.) Wide receiver. Hines could well slip considerably next year. Not likely, but could happen. Nate Washington could easily leave as a free agent. Even if he didn't, he's far from a complete player. Sweed may not be ready. That leaves us with Holmes. I don't think this will be a position we neglect in the offseason, though.

3.) O-Line. The team faces some tough choices. Three starters are free agents - four if you count Marvel Smith. Colon is an RFA and he'll be back. The team could let Kemoteau, Starks, and Smith all walk. None of them are impressive. Replacing them all in one offseason may not show results right away, though. The free agent pool isn't great, and rookies would be rookies.

4.) Defensive backs. Will we be able to re-sign McFadden. I'm not sure he'd be worth what he can get on the open market. Will Townsend return, and, if so, will he be effective? We'll need to add another corner or two in the offseason, is my guess.

5.) Backup QB. Can we count on another full season from Ben? If we can't, do we have a backup who can guide the offense? Leftwich will be gone. Batch played really well in '05 and '06, but much less so in '07 and he was out this entire year. If called upon for, say, a 5-game stretch, I'm not that confident that Batch could lead us through it.
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« Reply #5 on: Feb 02, 2009 at 10:57 »

Yeah, getting Mendenhall back should be a plus.  But do they lose Moore?  He was a huge contributor.

You gotta think the OL will be better.  How could they be worse?  But it looks to be a unit in flux and thus, a ?

Yup, that DL is getting older.  They'll have to address that, better sooner than later (see:  OL).  But they should be OK for another year.  In general, the defense should be fine.  Wm. Gay should take a step forward.  The secondary and LB corps are still young wte of Farrior who can still play.

Hopefully Sweed will be better in his second year.  The WRs need to be upgraded.  Either that and/or the OC needs to change.  Something has to give there.  It's idiotic to count on Ben scrambling around as a way to get a WR open.  And these guys don't get open that much other than short stuff or on a blown coverage where they just run by a guy.  More consistency is needed.

But if the OL doesn't improve there's not much hope for a more consistent offense.  Maybe if the running game were better Arians wouldn't look like such a dipshit and the passing game would be that much more successful.  And then they'd be able to score on those goal-to-go situations that far too often turned into 20 yard FGs or nothing.

But even with the easier schedule (caveats accepted) the division should be tougher next season.  The Ravens look to improve with a young QB who should have a better command of his offense.  Even if their D drops off a bit it should be good enough to keep them in most games.

The Bungholes and Brownstains can't be worse. 

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« Reply #6 on: Feb 02, 2009 at 11:34 »


But even with the easier schedule (caveats accepted) the division should be tougher next season.  The Ravens look to improve with a young QB who should have a better command of his offense.  Even if their D drops off a bit it should be good enough to keep them in most games.

The Bungholes and Brownstains can't be worse. 

Great points, all of 'em.

I forgot to even think about the division. Yes, the Ravens could be beastly next year if: they keep their LB corps togther, they find another WR, and Flacco develops. I'm not yet convinced that Flacco is going to be anything more than a Drew Bledsoe-type, but he should in any case be more productive next year than he was this year.

I actully think the Bengals might be a big threat next year. Their defense was impressive down the stretch -- if they can get rid of the selfishness on offense and get Palmer back healthy, they could win 10 games.

As for the Browns, I was very confident they'd implode this year. We see teams like them every year -- a bad team shows some improvement, and then, desperate to win and break through after years of losing, throw money at free agents. More often than not, expensive free agents like that big payday and stop showing up for work. That, plus the fact that Anderson is clearly nothing special -- in 2007 he just benefitted from outstanding receiver and line play, two things which didn't show up so much this year.
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« Reply #7 on: Feb 02, 2009 at 11:35 »

Quote
We play the AFC WEST and the NFC NORTH.

I thought we played the NFC South?  If it's the north then I'm very disappointed.  Was looking forward to seeing them play either in Charlotte or Atlanta.

Honestly, everything mentioned here may be a concern, but I don't think anything takes precedent over OL.  We HAVE to start keeping the Franchise in one piece, and our oline is just flat awful.  Hartwig wasn't holding in the EZ, he was getting run over in the EZ.  Pretty sure the ref was saying, "That couldn't happen unless he was holding."  But, oh yes, it could and it did.  Embarrassing.
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« Reply #8 on: Feb 02, 2009 at 12:36 »

There are potential problems this team has, too, looking at next year.

Reasons we might decline:

1.) Age on the D-Line. This is my big fear. The starting 3 are in their 30s and the depth, Hoke aside, is minimal. If these guys can't dominate the run, we'll lose some of the  effectiveness that made our pass coverage so amazing.

We can address this in the draft.  I think they can hold on for another year, may just need to add some guys to the rotation.

2.) Wide receiver. Hines could well slip considerably next year. Not likely, but could happen. Nate Washington could easily leave as a free agent. Even if he didn't, he's far from a complete player. Sweed may not be ready. That leaves us with Holmes. I don't think this will be a position we neglect in the offseason, though.

I will not count Hines Ward out...period.  Secondly Sweed will be a great player...I look at his as this years Timmons.  A freak of nature who took a little longer to adjust to the pro game, because they never had to be a student of the game, simply excelled based on athletic ability.  Holmes boarders on elite, and Washington is a decent player, but all he has is speed. 

3.) O-Line. The team faces some tough choices. Three starters are free agents - four if you count Marvel Smith. Colon is an RFA and he'll be back. The team could let Kemoteau, Starks, and Smith all walk. None of them are impressive. Replacing them all in one offseason may not show results right away, though. The free agent pool isn't great, and rookies would be rookies.

Now this worries me.  I think we need to sign Jordan Gross...this would be expensive, but it is not time to get Ben an elite o-lineman. Other than that we will probably be a little patchwork.  We MUST draft 2 o-lineman in the first 3 rounds of the draft.

4.) Defensive backs. Will we be able to re-sign McFadden. I'm not sure he'd be worth what he can get on the open market. Will Townsend return, and, if so, will he be effective? We'll need to add another corner or two in the offseason, is my guess.

Resigning McFadden is a must.  Townsend is the wily veteran, he will come back but may not start.  A corner via FA and a corner via the draft is necessary. 

5.) Backup QB. Can we count on another full season from Ben? If we can't, do we have a backup who can guide the offense? Leftwich will be gone. Batch played really well in '05 and '06, but much less so in '07 and he was out this entire year. If called upon for, say, a 5-game stretch, I'm not that confident that Batch could lead us through it.

Batch will be fine, and do not sleep on Dixon... do I trust him to be a frachise QB, hell no.  Could he step in and win a few games...certainly.


Brinker
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Steelerdipwad
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« Reply #9 on: Feb 02, 2009 at 13:33 »

4.) Defensive backs. Will we be able to re-sign McFadden. I'm not sure he'd be worth what he can get on the open market. Will Townsend return, and, if so, will he be effective? We'll need to add another corner or two in the offseason, is my guess.

Resigning McFadden is a must.  Townsend is the wily veteran, he will come back but may not start.  A corner via FA and a corner via the draft is necessary. 
Brinker

If we re-sign McFadden, then IMO, we can take a flyer on a corner in the later rounds. If we don't re-sing him, then we have to draft a corner in the first or second, at the latest. The prospect of Deshea and Fernando Bryant next year is not appealing.
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« Reply #10 on: Feb 02, 2009 at 14:58 »

Yeah, getting Mendenhall back should be a plus.  But do they lose Moore?  He was a huge contributor.


Moore will be back next year, if they want him.  My notes have him signing a 3 year, $4.95M contract last offseason with a $1.35M bonus.
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« Reply #11 on: Feb 02, 2009 at 15:00 »

Yeah, getting Mendenhall back should be a plus.  But do they lose Moore?  He was a huge contributor.


Moore will be back next year, if they want him.  My notes have him signing a 3 year, $4.95M contract last offseason with a $1.35M bonus.

Oh, good.  Couldn't remember what his deal was.  In that case you're right, he's back!
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« Reply #12 on: Feb 02, 2009 at 16:00 »

My notes have him signing a 3 year, $4.95M contract last offseason with a $1.35M bonus.

Notes?Huh?  I havent been taking notes for years.  I hope this isnt on the test! Shocked
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« Reply #13 on: Feb 02, 2009 at 16:44 »

Because they'll still have #7.
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« Reply #14 on: Feb 02, 2009 at 17:47 »

Quote
I thought we played the NFC South?  If it's the north then I'm very disappointed.  Was looking forward to seeing them play either in Charlotte or Atlanta.

I think we played them in 2007, because I was contemplating going to those games myself.  hopefully they'll be back in '11.
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« Reply #15 on: Feb 02, 2009 at 17:58 »

If we don't get at least one prime OL in FA (and rely exclusively on the draft) then there will almost certainly be a transition year as the new draftees get acclimated to the pro game (unless Tony Hills bubbles up).

I am a little less concerned about DL depth than others, but it a growing concern.

I agree that McFadden might be the only STeelers FA to actually strongly chase.  His loss would be pretty significant.  I think his injury, and relatively quiet (no INTs, although it was fairly strong in terms of production) return might make him affordable.

Sepulveda will be back, and I think that the improved play of Timmons, Mendenhall and Sweed will be very helpful. 

Ultimately whether we regress or not (hard to get better following a SB win) will depend on the OL and free agency.  Heck, I am still shocked we just won the SB with that unit.  Going into the season I thought it was such a fatal flaw that we might have difficulty making the playoffs.
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« Reply #16 on: Feb 03, 2009 at 05:58 »

That's what I hate about you fair weather fans. What, you can't be bothered to take the short drive from South Carolina or Georgia to Minnesota?

Pussies.
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« Reply #17 on: Feb 03, 2009 at 06:25 »

Quote
That's what I hate about you fair weather fans. What, you can't be bothered to take the short drive from South Carolina or Georgia to Minnesota?

Pussies.

To quote a famous MGSer, you can "suck my member!"  Now, who has that on his profile again???
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« Reply #18 on: Feb 03, 2009 at 20:07 »

My notes have him signing a 3 year, $4.95M contract last offseason with a $1.35M bonus.

Notes?Huh?  I havent been taking notes for years.  I hope this isnt on the test! Shocked

Dude, I'm like a thousand years old.  If it ain't writ down, I ain't rememberin it!
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« Reply #19 on: Feb 03, 2009 at 20:38 »

We'll supposedly have an easier schedule next year.
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« Reply #20 on: Feb 03, 2009 at 20:47 »

Acoording to the Professor Clayton...

Pittsburgh Steelers: The champions have a chance to repeat because they'll play an easy schedule next season. That's a rare circumstance for defending champions. The Steelers entered the 2008 season with a .598 strength of schedule that decreased to a still-tough .525 when the Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns and Jacksonville Jaguars had down seasons. In addition to playing AFC North teams, the Steelers will play AFC West and NFC North teams in 2009. Those future opponents combined for a .434 winning percentage this past season, so the Steelers will play the fourth-easiest schedule in the league. Their biggest shakeout of players will be along the offensive line. Guard Chris Kemoeatu and offensive tackles Marvel Smith, Max Starks and Trai Essex are unrestricted free agents.


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« Reply #21 on: Feb 03, 2009 at 21:05 »

After watching the replays of the second half, I'm questioning whether or not we should re-sing Kemo.  Dude made some terrible plays Sunday night, and has looked lost in several games this year.  We'll sing Essex because he's cheap depth.  Not great depth, but cheap depth.  I'll be shocked if Smith doesn't retire, and will be even more shocked if we sing Starks for anything higher than a modest contract.  We'll have to do work in FA and the draft to put a line together.
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« Reply #22 on: Feb 04, 2009 at 06:51 »

After watching the replays of the second half, I'm questioning whether or not we should re-sing Kemo.  Dude made some terrible plays Sunday night, and has looked lost in several games this year.  We'll sing Essex because he's cheap depth.  Not great depth, but cheap depth.  I'll be shocked if Smith doesn't retire, and will be even more shocked if we sing Starks for anything higher than a modest contract.  We'll have to do work in FA and the draft to put a line together.

I thought the same thing. In fact, I think Kemo and Stapleton got eaten alive in that game. I am praying that we don't re-sign Kemo. Spend the money signing a veteran OG, or sign Starks to play RT and move Colon back to G.

I never thought I'd miss Kendall Simmons, but he's way better than either Kemo or Stapleton. (I do think Stapleton could still improve, but I think we've seen the best we're gonna get out of Kemo, haven't we?)
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« Reply #23 on: Feb 04, 2009 at 08:27 »

I wasn't too impressed with Hartwig in the SB, either. He might or might not have held on that safety, but he definitely got run over.
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« Reply #24 on: Feb 04, 2009 at 09:25 »

The Steelers should not resign Kemo. He is one of the worst guards in the league. The Super Bowl affirmed that. He has terrible technique and cannot do anything on doubles and blitzes. I am questioning his football IQ. Stapleton was way more consistent and should be starting next year. He makes few mistakes per game. He did a fine job with the exception of 2 series in the fourth quarter on Dockett. Hartwig is solid and his bad plays are basically a product of having no help from Kemo. He is a giant upgrade over Mahan.

In my opinion they should let Kemo and Starks walk. Draft a guard, pick up a T in free agency and resign Colon to a low tender.

Kemo should be playing defense.
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« Reply #25 on: Feb 04, 2009 at 11:40 »

We said it ad nauseum before Kemo got the starting LG spot...he's a road grader, not a pass blocker.  Get a good LT on his wing that's good and I think he'll be OK.  Not great, but OK.

I still say that between Stapleton, Colon and Kemo, they can find two guys that can do a decent job playing inside.  Sign a LT, draft a RT in R1.  DL in R2.  OC or OG in R3.  Cut Simmons and reap a nice cap savings.  With the Fanny R3 (assumably) comp, look for value at CB, WR, or S.
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« Reply #26 on: Feb 04, 2009 at 11:58 »

Simmons won't be cut, no way... large cap hit in 10.  We don't know the details of the Mahan trade, but that's why it was a trade and not an outright release.

What the heck was with Max this playoffs?  I thought he was very slow getting off the ball against speed rushers.

DON'T be surprised if we resign Marvel Smith with an incentive laden contract.

I'm OK w/ Kemo at LG, Hartwig at Center.  We'll have to live with Simmons at RG.  The tackles are the question mark, presuming Colon will be tendered.
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« Reply #27 on: Feb 04, 2009 at 12:09 »

AJ, I disagree on some of that.  Kemo may be big is an ox, but he's not all that adept a run-blocker.  We should be getting a much better push to that side, and I don't think it's just a matter of overcompensation for the LT, as Starks is a decent sized run blocker, too.  Kemo's main problem is that he's slow to read and react, and that won't change.  He's a backup here, if anything.  

Same goes for Stapleton, who increasingly looked overwhelmed by rush schemes.  So, he played over his head for a half a year; kudos.

Hartwig had some shitty play at times, but was more serviceable than either Staples or Kemo.  So if we opt to skip a guy like Mack, we can develop a R3-5 guy.  If Mack is as good as the hype, we still have 'Wig as depth/mentor, maybe until Stapleton takes over for C depth.

We won't be buying a LT in FA.  Sorry.  We just won't.  Just please bury that notion right now.  There aren't many good ones out there, and they'll get more money than we will spend.

One solution for RT/OG, as mentioned here a Brazilian times, is moving the short (and short-armed) Colon inside, where he would be a natural at OG.  And not have to cheat off the line to compensate for speed rushers.  And could utilize more his brute strength.  Etc.  Since this idea has not occurred to BA or LZ in two years, I find it unlikely that it will suddenly dawn now, unless Colbert greenlights the exodus of Kemo.

The nauseating thought occurs that some may be of the mindset that Simmons may somehow be an ace in the hole.

I don't know exactly how it all shakes out, but the first several (4? 5?) rounds should all be OL/DL, with heavy emphasis on OL.

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« Reply #28 on: Feb 04, 2009 at 12:31 »

Simmons won't be cut, no way... large cap hit in 10.  We don't know the details of the Mahan trade, but that's why it was a trade and not an outright release.

What the heck was with Max this playoffs?  I thought he was very slow getting off the ball against speed rushers.

DON'T be surprised if we resign Marvel Smith with an incentive laden contract.

I'm OK w/ Kemo at LG, Hartwig at Center.  We'll have to live with Simmons at RG.  The tackles are the question mark, presuming Colon will be tendered.

Simmons won't be cut, judging by FO MO, but should be. 

Quote
Simmons, the Steelers' starting right guard since he was drafted in the first round in 2002, signed on for four more years.

The four-year extension was worth $23.1 million and his five-year contract totals $24 million, plus another $1 million in incentives. He has guaranteed money of $8.5 million with a $7.85 million signing bonus, among the handful of largest in Steelers history.

The first three years are worth $15 million. The deal was negotiated by Omar Kahn of the Steelers and Eric Metz, a Monroeville native.

Not sure how all that breaks out, but the guaranteed money, if split over 4, is $2.125M per.  If the first 3 years (incl. '09) sum to $15M, then the '10 salary is $5.975M: insane, when combined with $2.125M guaranteed.  The salaries from '07-'09 are prorated, likely, but average $2.875.  If the '09 is slightly higher, say, $3M, then cutting Simmons would wipe about $800K off this year's books, and about $3.8M off next year's.  That tells me that it's a "wait and see year," as they won't likely find anyone of worth for $800K (a push).  Of course, what Simmons is really worth we already know.

Starks is who we thought he was.  Slow off the edge, but overall fairly solid.  Not a franchise LT by any stretch, and not worth throwing big money at.

Marvel's worth would only be in anchoring LT until a rook/2nd year guy could step in, but I'm not convinced he can last even half a year.  He's just not worth any kind of contract.

I'm OK with 'Wig playing out his deal, and keeping Kemo ONLY as a backup for backup money.  IMO, Essex actually is a guy who would be worth retaining, as he's almost as good as Starks at LT, and can play some guard, if only as a stopgap measure.  Cheap depth, in other words.

At the end of R1, I think our best bets might be one of the two value tackles (Britton, Beatty), neither of whom will be ready right away, or Mack, whom some think is a "once in a decade" center.  We'll see.  At the end of R2, my gut says best value might be Loadholt for RT, or Ronnie Brace for NT.  Sure to be some value in R3-R4 for OG/C.

So, off the cuff:

LT - Essex/Hills, Beatty
LG - Simmons, Kemo/Urbik
C - Hartwig, Stapleton
RG - Colon, Kemo/Urbik
RT - Essex/Hills, Fenoki

At least to start.  Beatty would need a year, so Essex v. Hills for '09, with some hope Hills could do it.  Simmons at LG looks better than Simmons at RG, and at least we could have Kemo v. Simmons there.  Center, maybe Hartwig lets us wait a year.  Colon at RG.  Fenoki would displace the presumptive RT sooner than later, as he's a beast.  Same would hold true if we landed Loadholt at RT earlier.  Next year with Beatty, Urbik, 'Wig, Colon, Fenoki across the front would be solid, IMO.
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jonzr
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« Reply #29 on: Feb 04, 2009 at 12:42 »

Let's see, a "once in a decade center" plus the mammoth Loadholt on day one?

:treeness:
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« Reply #30 on: Feb 04, 2009 at 13:16 »

So, off the cuff:

LT - Essex/Hills, Beatty
LG - Simmons, Kemo/Urbik
C - Hartwig, Stapleton
RG - Colon, Kemo/Urbik
RT - Essex/Hills, Fenoki



Jesus Christ Finny, I nearly lost my lunch looking at that. I mean, I guess they can't really be worse than this year, but looking at that really highlights the upcoming OL questions the Steelers are going to have to deal with.

Simmons now has had an Achilles, and ACL injuries. Sweet. And since his illness he has lost some bulk. Essex/Hills at LT/RT is just too scary to think about. Can Trai play as a starter? Who knows. We literally know nothing about Hills. Hartwig definitely played better than Mahan, but thats like following W. I totally agree about the Colon move, but as you said, doesn't seem like its going to be happening.

I'm not a darft guru, so I have no idea what kind of quality will be available at 1.32 and 2.64, but if its Mack, can Hartwig play guard, or is he only a center? The Stapleton v Simmons battle will be interesting. And who knows where the whole Starks thing is going. I don't think he will be back, and if thats the case, they gotta get an above average tackle through FA. Who's available besides Max Starks?
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« Reply #31 on: Feb 04, 2009 at 13:41 »


Not sure how all that breaks out, but the guaranteed money, if split over 4, is $2.125M per.  If the first 3 years (incl. '09) sum to $15M, then the '10 salary is $5.975M: insane, when combined with $2.125M guaranteed.  The salaries from '07-'09 are prorated, likely, but average $2.875.  If the '09 is slightly higher, say, $3M, then cutting Simmons would wipe about $800K off this year's books, and about $3.8M off next year's.  That tells me that it's a "wait and see year," as they won't likely find anyone of worth for $800K (a push).  Of course, what Simmons is really worth we already know.

Thought I read somewhere that Simmons' cap hit for '09 was around 5 million with it jumping exponentially in '10.

If cutting him nets them anywhere near a million and a half savings against the cap this year, I say send 'em packin'.  It would be an even bigger savings in '10.
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« Reply #32 on: Feb 04, 2009 at 13:55 »


Not sure how all that breaks out, but the guaranteed money, if split over 4, is $2.125M per.  If the first 3 years (incl. '09) sum to $15M, then the '10 salary is $5.975M: insane, when combined with $2.125M guaranteed.  The salaries from '07-'09 are prorated, likely, but average $2.875.  If the '09 is slightly higher, say, $3M, then cutting Simmons would wipe about $800K off this year's books, and about $3.8M off next year's.  That tells me that it's a "wait and see year," as they won't likely find anyone of worth for $800K (a push).  Of course, what Simmons is really worth we already know.

Thought I read somewhere that Simmons' cap hit for '09 was around 5 million with it jumping exponentially in '10.

If cutting him nets them anywhere near a million and a half savings against the cap this year, I say send 'em packin'.  It would be an even bigger savings in '10.

$2.125M (guaranteed) + $2.875 (salary) = $5.0M on the nut, so I will assume my breakout is about right. 

Cap savings in '09 if Simmons is sent packing:  $2.875M... not $800K.  I commited the age-old error of subtracting the two, when all we are on the hook for is guaranteed.  We would save the entire salary.

Which means ~$6M off the '10 books.

Saving just shy of $9M over the next two years?   

Works for me.
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