January 22, 2008

Vote Clark Haggans Off The Island...


"We like to do things our way...We believe that if we bring a player up and bring him through our system, being in this organization, having the coaches train them the way we want, that that's the way you develop a team."
- Dan Rooney
The Steelers mantra - build through the draft, don't hold on to aging, declining talent, unless said talent accepts less money and/or less importance. It's a formula that has worked for years, and one that I can get behind most of the time, although some might choose to disagree.

And since we've got nothing better to talk about right now, I figured it might be a good time to discuss this offseason's potential departures...The Steelers have just a few free agents, some unrestricted and some restricted. The complete list looks like this:

Unrestricted ~ Alan Faneca, Max Starks, Dan Kreider, Clark Haggans, Brian St. Pierre, Nick Eason, and Travis Kirschke.

Restricted ~ Chris Kemoeatu, Trai Essex, Nate Washington, and Greg Warren.

I think it's pretty well settled how most of these will play out, but here's where I stand, for the record:

KEEP - Max Starks and Nick Eason as far as unrestricteds, and start thinking about the possibilities of keeping all restricteds.

You'll notice I have not made any plea for Alan Faneca. I previously had felt like we should do everything we can to keep him. But just playing devil's advocate, I think I may have changed my mind. You can't ignore that he's getting up in the years (31), and will command a pretty hefty salary wherever he ends up. So I wouldn't necessarily think it's a bad thing to lose him and hopefully gain a future starter in the 1st or 2nd round. That said, it'd be tough to lose a perrenial pro bowl lineman...especially after the season we had. All I can say is sometimes things that at first seem bad, turn out to be pretty good in the long run.

As for the rest of this mess -

Starks is 6'8", 337 and 26 years old. In the past, he seemed like what most of us would refer to as "a bust" at Right Tackle. However, he renewed our interest this year by filling in as a pretty damn capable Left Tackle (his natural position). Now how that translates over 16 games, I don't know. But I think I'd prefer to keep him in Black and Gold unless the front office has some master plan to trade up and draft Jake Long that I don't know about.

Eason ain't exactly Aaron Smith, but fortunately no one is asking him to be. While we all saw how hard it was to "replace" Smith this season. At least if we have someone semi-capable around to fill that spot, we should be in good shape (this assumes we don't draft a premier DE). Some might say keep Kirschke, release Eason. But I'm a firm believer in the power of what ESPN talking heads vacuously call "upside." Kirschke is 33, Eason is 27. Advantage Eason.

Kreider - god bless the man, I love him, one of my favorite Steelers by far. But he also isn't getting any younger and that torn ACL back in November really put a damper on any plans he might have had of being remotely effective in the future. Sorry my friend, but I think this is where we say goodbye.

Haggans - see post subject line.

St. Pierre - Refuse to devote whole sentences to this topic...Need a new young QB to groom as Chuck Batch's eventual replacement...(And if nothing else, him leaving would be one less Steeler that Pittsburgh psychos can impersonate).

Nate Washington surprised the hell out of all of us this year by actually catching passes...for TOUCHDOWNS! Yes he still dropped a bunch. But he's never going to be our #1 or #2. So if we can hold on to him and get some solid play like we saw out of him this season as the #3, I'm happy.

Kemoeatu needs a chance to start. Or at least that's how I'm feeling right now. We need to know if this guy is a viable solution on that line and with Faneca more than likely moving on, his shot should be imminent.

Essex showed all the doubters that he's at least a serviceable backup. And like I mentioned when discussing Faneca, with the line play we had last year, we ought to try and hold on to anything positive (that doesn't ask for $7-8 mil a year). After all, he won't be commanding Faneca money anyhow.

And finally, Greg Warren - I have a feeling that the Steelers recent long snapper signing was by design, knowing that Warren has one year left. If this new guy works out, we may not be seeing Greg Warren too much longer. However, Warren is one of my guys. You can't underestimate the value of a solid long snapper...(am I seriously still talking about this topic?)

Either way, I'm looking forward to seeing who actually stays/goes - mostly because I've got something extremely entertaining planned for said occasion. All I can tell you is it will involve youtube (how could you go wrong with that?)...Hey, what else do I have to look forward to with the draft 3 months away?

Anyone have anything else to say about free agency? Anyone you think we should particularly keep? Anyone you're looking at to bring in? Anyone NOT want to make a play for Matt Jones and/or Ernest Wilford? Did anyone actually get through that whole post???

Oh and also -- not a free agent, unfortch, but I wouldn't exactly be devastated if the Steelers moved Cedrick Wilson...beyond that gadget play against the Jags (it was the Jags, right?), I'm pretty sure he will be best remembered for being a non-factor in 2007 and having a crazy girlfriend. Think he's worth the $2 or so million we're scheduled to pay him next year??

REFERENCE MATERIAL:
Faneca's Not The Only Steelers Free Agent [Fanhouse]
Steelers Haggans Probably Moving On [Tribune-Review]
2008 Steelers Free Agents [Pittsburgh Sports Insider]
Your Pittsburgh Steelers Offseason Overview [Doubt About It]

Ballhype: hype it up!

6 comments:

notgomu said...

I too think we have to let faneca go. It's just too much money for someone who's getting older. There are younger guys on the team that are coming into their own. It's like when they let Wayne Gandy go after the 2002-2003 season. He was a great LT, but he was too expensive too keep. We've seen it a hundred times before, with relly great steeler players: Chad Brown, Greg Lloyd, Kevin Greene, Carnell Lake, Rod Woodson. Unfortunately this list goes on and on. I have faith the steelers management will make the right moves. 8 out of 10 times they do. As far as the offensive line goes, Mahan becomes back-up center. Kendall To center, Colon to right guard, Starks at RT, Kemoeatu at LG, and Smith at LT. Resign Essex as a back-up and draft some O-linemen in the first 2rounds. As far as Nate Washington goes, I don't think any other team will sign him anyway. Brian St. Pierre is a cool guy, but not a neccessity.
On defense, i'll be voting haggans off the island. Woodley can start in his spot. I don't think the linebackers are a problem. Neason is a good back-up and won't command a high price. Plus the draft will be good for both lines.
In free agency, I think they should look for a center, or someone to compete if they don't take MY suggestions. I don't think they will be busy in free agency, maybe 1 or 2 guys but nobody high priced. Maybe a cornerback to compete, Townsend is getting kind of old.

Black&Gold Girl said...

I have to agree with you on the Faneca thing. I want him to stay, but if he is asking too much and we could get a 1st round pick for him, I think that would be awesome.

And poor Kreider. There is no one who more exemplified the Pittsburgh Steelers mentality, although he too is also probably going. I wonder what the odds are that we pick up Mendenhall from Illinois.

I loved Nate when he first came on board, but at this point, he's had so many chances and done relatively little to impress.

As far as the Matt Jones/Wilford thing goes, I wanted to take Matt a couple of years ago in the draft, but he got picked up. I think in the right system he could really flourish. At this point he's still polishing his transition from QB to WR. But he has a grittiness that I think would sit really well with the Steelers. But I'll pass on Wilford. He doesn't impress me as much as Jones and I don't think he has the same level of potential.

Anyway, random ramblings. I did make it through your post, although I don't know who will make it through my comment.

domski43 said...

to start off..
1. fire bruce arians
2. fire mike tomlin
STEELERS NATION HAS SPOKEN!!!

have to agree with notgomu about the faneca situation as well as the offensive line situation for next year.

RIP heath ledger

MDultrarunner said...

Faneca's gone. He won't take a hometown discount and I doubt Ben will take a smaller contract to get him to stay. I know Ben's unselfish and all and recognizes the need for a strong O-line, but I've really lost all hope that Faneca, who is no spring chicken, is leaving.

Let Kreider go. Pick up Schmitt in the 3rd or 4th round and let him actually run it a few times a game and catch a few balls out of the backfield. (I'm going to keep harping on this until draft day.)

As much as I like Haggans, it's only a matter of time until he gets replaced. And, um, that time is now. It's time for a big stick of Woodley.

And, for the love, get rid of Cedrick Wilson. The guy's done nothing of note the past two years, and Ben needs a tall receiver. Get rid of him, make Nate Washington a serviceable #3 in the meantime, and groom the new guy.

Anonymous said...

Well Faneca's good as gone, he said so before the season started. That's when I started living without him as a Steeler. Why does everyone want to get rid of Clark Haggans? He's been a baller! He's not Greg Lloyd, but maybe more like Jason Gildon. If he's getting up in age I can see it but if not he still represents continuity on the defense. IMHO they should have kept Hank Fraley at center(now in Cleveland where he'll make a pro-bowl in the next few years) The Bus said he liked how Fraley blocked...but since the Rooney's didn't appear to agree we have this 'problem' at center. So the o-line is where I'd start. Sad about Kreider too, he was awesome and wish he could stay but it's a business. I agree about chucking Wilson. I'd say keep Warren though and Max Starx, Eason and Washington.

tobiathan said...

Cut/trade:

Wilson
Faneca
Haggans
Kreider


Sign:

Matt Jones
backup LB
starting center
backup OT

Draft:

Owen fucking Schmidtt, for the love of God!!!!!!!!

LB
OT
DE
WR
CB


I like pretty much all the suggestions made on shuffling the O-line. I think Clark Haggans would prosper elsewhere and Woodley will be a force next year.

Drafting Owen Schmidtt and signing Ben, Matt Jones and a strong center would make us enormously better.