Latest Steelers Buzz

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The Pittsburgh Steelers held their victory parade in downtown Pittsburgh today. Mike Tomlin and defensive coordinator Dick Lebeau deserve a lot of credit for the team’s success on the field but Kevin Colbert deserves a lot of credit for constructing a Super Bowl champion.
The Steelers got minimal production from their 08 draft but Colbert make key draft picks in 07 such as Lawrence Timmons, William Gay who didn’t make much of a impact in 07 but were unsung players on the 08 team.
I doubt there are many fans questioning the team drafting Lawrence Timmons now. He’s going to be a special player next year. 2007 Second round pick LaMarr Woodley who has 8 sacks in four career post-season games is developing into one of the games top linebackers. The Steelers 07 draft class is looking very good.
In 2006 Colbert moved up seven spots in the draft to land wide receiver Santonio Holmes. While Colbert has addressed skilled positions like wide receiver with Holmes in 06 and running back with Mendenhall in 08, Colbert’s focus this year needs to turn to the offensive line in this year’s draft. It also wouldn’t be a bad thing adding some depth to the defensive line.
According to the Associated Press, Nielsen Media Research now says that the Arizona-Pittsburgh Super Bowl game was the most-watched in history.Nielsen said 98.7 million people, on average, were watching Pittsburgh’s exciting 27-23 victory Sunday night. That beats the 97.5 million who watched the 2008 game, which held the record for most popular Super Bowl. Previously it was reported that the 2008 game¬†was the most watched Super Bowl
The talk that Mike Tomlin inherited a Super Bowl team is being totally overblown. The Steelers were clearly not a Super Bowl team in 07 when Mike Tomlin was named head coach. Tomlin made it known that it was going to be his way and he was very tough on his players during his first season.
Linebacker James Harrison gave Tomlin some very nice remarks during today’s parade. In 06 the Steelers went through a year of celebration and hiring Ken Whisenhunt or Russ Grimm may not have changed that mentality. Tomlin was the perfect man for the job and give the Rooney’s credit for taking a chance on a up and coming coach.
The big question for the Steelers heading into the off-season will be whether the front office will overlook their offensive line because they won Super Bowl XLIII. The Steelers O-Line had a little redemption in delivering a Super Bowl title but the O-Line will be management‚Äôs top priority this off-season. Now onto some key free agents and the latest rumors…..
Quarterbacks
1.Charlie Batch, UFA, 2. Byron Leftwich, UFA
Tight Ends
Sean McHugh, UFA
Wide Receivers
1. Nate Washington, UFA
Offensive Guards
1. Chris Kemoeatu UFA
Offensive Tackles
1. Willie Colon, RFA, 2. Trai Essex, UFA, 3. Marvel Smith, UFA 4. Max Starks, UFA
Defensive Ends
1. Orpheus Roye, UFA
Linebackers
1. Keyaron Fox, UFA, 2. Andre Frazier, UFA, 3. Arnold Harrison, RFA
Cornerbacks
1. Bryant McFadden, 2. Fernando Bryant, UFA, 3. Anthony Madison, RFA
Safeties
1. Anthony Smith, RFA
Punters
1. Mitch Berger
Who will be a priority and who won’t be?
To turn to hockey for a second, what Ray Shero deemed when he first became the Penguins general manager is to get better you can’t bring everyone back. Shero let go of productive players like Andy Hilbert ( 18 pts in 19 games with PIT) who had brief success with Sidney Crosby near the end of the 05-06 season and it was the right decision.
I believe the Steelers may take that same approach. This is totally a different situation but my point is getting rid of a player who is productive at times is the kind of decision some teams need to take to improve.
¬†From what I‚Äôm hearing the team seems very focused on upgrading the interior of their offensive line. This could lead to the Steelers letting Chris Kemoeatu walk. Sources told me at the beginning of the playoffs, that Kemoeatu needed a strong performance in the playoffs to guarantee a return to the Steelers in 09. Inconsistency is Kemoeatu‚Äôs downfall and that’s the¬†reason I‚Äôm hearing he will not be a priority for the Steelers.
Early draft buzz has the Steelers eyeing Cal’s Alex Mack, Oregon’s Max Unger and Cincinnati Guard Trevor Canfield (2nd-3rd round prospect) who has a reputation for being a nasty, fierce competitor and was dominant in practices at the Senior Bowl. Unger and Mack are both centers and are regarded as 1st-2nd round prospects.
Word is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are very interested in Steelers backup quarterback Byron Leftwich. Leftwich was a great presence in the locker room and head coach Mike Tomlin is going to do all he can to help market Leftwich for a starting job elsewhere. The Steelers should be thankful that Daunte Culpepper turned them down. Culpepper outperfomed Leftwich in the private workout between the two players in August.
Early indications are the Steelers top priorities this off-season are

LT Max Starks and CB Bryant McFadden. The Steelers will have over $22 million in cap space and can afford both players. Starks, 26, is very close to Ben Roethlisberger. The Steelers are expected to make a four year offer and he’s a player they don’t want to lose.
A few weeks ago I was ruling out a return for Bryant McFadden based on agent Drew Rosenhaus asking price but sources tell me Rosenhaus is claiming the Steelers have indicated they are prepared to make a competitive offer and McFadden is saying all the right things about returning. Well see in the next couple weeks.
Right Tackle Willie Colon will return. Coaching staff is very high on Colon and Colon can play tackle and guard. I still think Colon moving to guard could be in his best interest.
Could wide receiver become an issue for the Steelers again? Nate Washington is an impending free agency. The team has not given up on Limas Sweed and are high on him but do you go into camp with Limas Sweed as your #3? Pittsburgh would like to bring Washington back but it has to be at their price. If Washington bolts, the Steelers will bring in a veteran wide out and let Sweed and that veteran play it out in training camp for the #3 spot on the depth chart.
Safety Anthony Smith is a RFA. Smith who didn’t dress for the Super Bowl also failed to speak at the Steelers victory parade when he came to the podium with Ryan Mundy. It was fitting with Mundy walking with him because Mundy’s going to be the player who may take Smith’s roster spot in 09. Mundy performed well in training camp.
Tackle Marvel Smith is a wild card. Another back surgery gives him little value on the open market. At the right price, the Steelers are interested in a one year deal.
more to come

About The Author

William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at wdepaoli@insidepittsburghsports.com

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