Joey Porter's Pit Bulls just finished reading Ed Bouchette's article (in Sunday's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette) on nose tackle Casey Hampton's status. Frankly, Joey Porter's Pit Bulls believe Hampton, also known as "Big Snack," didn't have that great a season in 2009, and that he made the Pro Bowl primarily on reputation. Also, we remain concerned about Hampton's longevity -- how many years does he have left? He might be one of those guys (like James Farrior) who gets old in a hurry, or he could hang in there for another five or six years. It's hard to say, especially for nose tackles.
Having said that, and considering the looming expiration of the league's Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) and a potentially uncapped year, the Steelers' best option might be to apply a one-year "non-exclusive franchise tag" on Hampton. As Bouchette explains, it would work like this (with emphasis added by yours truly) ...
"Hampton has said he wants to stay with the Steelers and privately has told people that someone promised him the team would not put the franchise tag on him.
"The cost to put the one-year franchise or transition tenders on a player have not yet been revealed by the league or the players union. Last season a one-year salary required to pay a franchised defensive tackle was slightly more than $6 million, about $5.5 million for the transition tag.
"Each team will have both a franchise and transition tag if the collective bargaining agreement is not extended by March 5. That might not be a bad way for the Steelers to go with Hampton, who counted $6,652,000 against their salary cap last season. He would roughly count the same if franchised in 2010.
"If they put the "exclusive" franchise tag on Hampton, he cannot negotiate with other teams. The "non-exclusive" tag would allow him to negotiate and if he signs and the Steelers do not match, they would receive two first-round draft choices in return. The transition tag only allows the Steelers the right to match another contract and keep the player.