Saturday, February 13, 2010

Jus' kickin' around some internal free agency speculation ...

Steelers beat writer Ed Bouchette writes in today's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that personnel punjab Kevin Colbert (pronounced Col-behr? ... oh, yeah, guess not, that's the other Kevin Colbert) plans to engage in contract discussions with just three of the team's notable five pending free agents.

Those three "priorities" are Casey Hampton, Jeff Reed and Ryan Clark, presumably in that order.

As for the others: "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."

Well, we're betting Willie Parker and DeShea Townsend -- Parker, at least -- may bristle a bit to be dismissed as "depth guys."

Colbert seems to be saying, in effect, "We don't care if we re-sign Parker or Townsend."

With that in mind, expect Fast Willie to leave via free agency, and for Townsend to stay as backup-nickel-dime cornerback/safety and mentor to the younger guys in the secondary.

Regarding the three "priorities," as noted previously here, we expect the Steelers to apply a one-year "non-exclusive franchise tag" on Big Snack.

As for Jeff Reed, we expect the Steelers to make a more-than-decent offer ... which Reed will reject. Considering his legal troubles, which today are current and unresolved but not "major-major," we expect he wants a fresh start. Maybe. Maybe not.

Say, for argument's sake, then, that Reed rejects a reasonable offer from the Steelers -- what then? Should the Steelers exercise the franchise tag on Reed? Tough call -- but the team seems to be lining up backup options (Piotr Czech and/or Adam Graessle?) in case Reed does not return. Are these even options? Or just smoke? No clue.

Here's another thought: Are they they bringing Graessle in as quasi-legitimate competition for punter Daniel Sepulveda -- with Graessle's only advantage over Sepulveda being that he can also kick off. Oh, yeah, and also that Graessle would be a fair amount cheaper than Sepulveda. Hmmm ... are we reading too much into this? Yeah, probably, but still.

Ryan Clark? The Steelers have no truly viable replacement in line, Ryan Mundy notwithstanding. So-o-o-o ... the team will probably keep Clark, but what happens with Jeff Reed could well determine what happens with Ryan Clark. Is this an either/or proposition? It may or may not be, but ... eh, we have a funny feeling that it is.

It sez here that one or the other -- Reed or Clark -- will be on the Steelers' roster come July, but not both. Just a gut feeling.

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