If Mark Kaboly’s report is indeed accurate, count me in as one of the many which are absolutely disgusted by the greed and selfishness displayed by a certain Steelers pass-catcher. Apparently, a 5-year deal around $50 million dollars was not good enough for #17, and the rumors that he wanted “Larry Fitzgerald” money this past offseason might have been more accurate than we think.
At this point, it appears like the Front Office and #17 will not budge on coming together for a new contract, and #17’s best and most logical card to play might be to sit and wait to sign his RFA tender until Week 11. Because of #17’s recent actions, and the Front Office’s staunch stance on the situation, many have clamored for the trade of #17 and/or the pickup of another Wide Receiver as insurance if he decides to make the couch his home until November. With these things in mind, I felt that I would address the aforementioned topics this evening and give my own thoughts, comments, and concerns on the matters at hand.
Trading #17: Does it Make Sense? Will it Happen?
For everybody on the “Trade #17 Bandwagon,” let me state that I am with you, have been with you since April, and it would be awesome to send #17 to “N.F.L. purgatory” like Jacksonville, Miami, Cleveland, etc.. An experience like that would not only show #17 that the “grass is not always greener,” but that sometimes the grass has been “burned, earth has been salted, and guys like Blaine Gabbert, Ryan Tannehill, etc. are allowed to start under center, become skittish when pressured, and throw inaccurate passes.”
As nice of a scene and as totally helpful to the organization (salary cap wise, and rebuilding wise) that a move like trading #17 would be, it is almost impossible at this point. And as Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk.com recently reiterated, the points which I have made for months will probably render the attempts to move #17 and get something of equal value in return fruitless:
One of the biggest reasons why trading #17 will probably not happen has to do with Pittsburgh’s asking price. Pittsburgh would likely be looking to receive at least a 1st Round pick (what they would have received if his tender was signed by another this past offseason), or two 2nd Round selections, or possibly a 2nd and a 3rd plus another contributing player for #17’s services.
Colbert and Co., because they understand what a return on an investment is, will likely not move #17 for anything below the bench-mark I discussed above. Especially since they will receive a 3rd Round compensatory pick in the 2014 Draft if/when he leaves via Free Agency. Plus, teams already passed on #17 a few months back when they could have acquired him for only a 1st Round pick, so it is highly questionable that they would take run at him now for an exorbitant amount. Granted, the Steelers might decide to take far below the market value just to move their disgruntled Wide Receiver (a la Sansmokio Holmes for a 5th Rounder in 2010), but because #17 has not had disciplinary issues and does not face a suspension, Pittsburgh’s Front Office will probably not pull the trigger if a team offers a 5th Rounder, or even a 4th and 5th Round selections.
High asking price also ties into the other factor which might cause teams to shy away from #17: signability long-term. If another organization truly wants to give up those amounts of draft picks on a Wide Receiver, they have to understand that he will only be signed through the 2012 season. With that in mind, the ability to lock-up #17 long-term will be of the utmost importance because of what it will take to acquire him, and #17 might have already tipped his hand as to what he wants long-term (>$50 million). If the price-tag is too high, and will be for quite a few teams, #17 might have priced himself out of the market.
Thus, any intelligent organization would see that it would be better to wait for #17 to hold out for most of the 2012 season, possibly drive his price tag down, not give up any important draft selections, and go after him as a UFA early in 2013. But hey, we have seen some teams make ridiculous moves before, so it will be interesting to see what the market for #17 will end up being during Training Camp and the Preseason.
Possible Free Agent Options
If the #17 continues his “defiant” sit-down, and Pittsburgh cannot move him for the right price, Colbert and Co. should consider signing a cheap option pass-catching for one year with whatever cap money they can scrape together. One player which might be able to help in the pass-catching department is Mike Williams, a guy Craig discussed a few weeks back.
After Williams resurrected his career in 2010 and racked up 65 Catches, 751 Yards and 2 TD’s, his production dropped off last year and was deemed expendable by the rebuilding Seahawks. At this point, the 28 year old Williams could at worst be a nice stop-gap player (if he can be had cheaply) until Pittsburgh can develop Toney Clemons or they draft a tall field-stretching WR early next season. Williams most importantly possesses great size (6’5” 225 lbs.), can help take some pressure off of the inside receivers, and I am sure he likely jump at the chance to play for a contending team if he does not receive any lucrative offers elsewhere.
The other player which could be a wild-card of an intriguing option would be none other than everybody’s favorite gun-safety spokesman and the first ever draft pick made under the Colbert regime: “Plaxico Burress.”
When one considers the fact that Burress put up an 45 Catch, 612 Yards, and 8 TD’s season with noodle-arm Sanchez throwing him the ball, and missed the previous two years because he was living “The Longest Yard” for real, it is conceivable that Plaxico has a year or two of productive football left in the tank. Also helping the situation is that Burress expressed a desire to suit up for the Steelers again last season, and might be willing to meet Pittsburgh’s asking price to play with Big Ben again. While the veteran’s age (35) might be a bit of an issue, his size (6’5” 225 lbs.) is something which this Receiving Corps desperately needs. And while Plax might not be able to stretch the field with his speed like #17, he could be a solid option in the Red Zone and take at least a bit of heat off of the inside pass-catchers with his presence.
It is truly a shame if this is indeed how #17’s career ends with the Black & Gold, but he should have done his homework on the situation first, and realized that confronting the Rooney’s and the Front Office is like “bringing a knife to a gun fight.”
This whole situation will depend on #17’s attitude over the coming weeks and it will be interesting to see how everything transpires. If the Front Office gets the impression that he will not accept what they offer him, does not want to sign his RFA tender until November, and will thus be leaving via Free Agency if he is not Franchise Tagged for a large amount next season, then they will explore any and all options to either replace him in the short-term with a veteran or do what is best for the club by getting something in return to build with down the road.
I am sure it will be an “As the World Turns” type of atmosphere surrounding #17 and the Steelers this season, so we had better ready ourselves for the soap-operaness of it all.
Now its time to share your thoughts readers: Is #17 worth over $50 million? Should the Steelers go after a veteran? Or are you comfortable with the players they have on the roster? Without #17, will this Offense go completely to pieces? Or will they respond to replace him somewhat in the statistical/matchup aggregate?
Stats Courtesy of: Pro Football Reference.com