What We Learned This Week in the NFL Offseason:
- Steelers name new WR Coach
- Longtime minority Steelers owner Rita McGinley passes away at 94
- Franchise Tags will be handed out this week
- Steelers Linebackers in question
The Steelers offseason has been busy so far not just with the impending salary cap hell we’re about to get into once the league’s 2013 year officially starts but also with having to replace position coaches. First was the offensive line coach as Sean Kugler left the Steelers for the head coaching job at UTEP and after Scottie Montgomery left the wide receiver coaching for Duke, the Steelers were left with their 3rd position coach to hire for this offseason. Tomlin selected Aliquippa native Richard Mann to coach their wide receiving corps. Mann has a tall order ahead of him as the Steelers WR corps is about to get awful thin once free agency begins and Wallace signs with whatever team offers him the biggest pile of money.
The Steelers ownership has always been about family. The Rooney family have been the majority owners the entire 80 years of the franchise and in 1946 shares of the team were sold to the McGinley family when then minority owner Bert Bell left the Steelers to become NFL Commissioner. Imagine that for a second, a commissioner that used to own part of the Steelers. What a wonderful, magical thing that would be. Ok back on track. Sadly, the Steelers family lost one of its original members this week as Rita McGinley passed at the age of 94. McGinley was originally from Braddock, Pa and has loved the Steelers the majority of her life. She often made it out to the games at Heinz Field and was even at training camp in Latrobe as recent as last year. McGinley was most known for her love of the Steelers and for her charitable contributions in the city of Pittsburgh. Steelers president Art Rooney II commented on McGinley,
“She was an all-around great lady who was extremely generous with her time and financial wherewithal. Many organizations benefited from her generosity down through the years. She was a wonderful person and someone we will miss very much.”
As we inch closer to draft time and the free agency period many teams are gearing up to pass out franchise tags on the players they’d rather not have enter the free agency market. Last season a record 21 teams tagged players and the speculation is that the number of teams tagging players will be high this year as well. The Steelers most likely won’t be tagging anyone as they’re already in over their heads with the salary cap situation and the only viable choice to tag would be Mike Wallace and that wouldn’t be very smart considering how much that tag would end up costing as well as the fact that Wallace could very well hold out again if tagged as he’s made it no secret he’s after a long term deal. The franchise tag guarantees that other teams cannot negotiate with that particular player, but also gets them the average of the top salaries for that position. The Ratbirds will most likely tag Joe Flacco in their process of eventually signing him to whatever long-term deal they’re going to overpay him for. Along with franchise tagging, scouting combines, and free agency beginning teams are also starting to release veterans. Already the Colts have announced that longtime pass rusher Dwight Freeney, who is an UFA, will not be pursued by the team and the Green Bay Packers have released Charles Woodson, their longtime CB. Won’t just be the Steelers having to make difficult decisions to part ways with players you’d never expect to put on a different uniform.
This week the Steelers Linebacker corps came into question as a story was leaked that James Harrison is not interested in taking a pay cut in order to remain with the Steelers as well as some “anonymous” quotes from inside the Steelers locker room knocking the training and efforts but forth by LaMarr Woodley. First off, when did we turn into the Jets? An anonymous player? Really? We’re better than that aren’t we? Actually, it’s not that hard to imagine the locker room in some kind of turmoil considering that’s what an 8-8 season will get you. No one complains if you’re winning. As far as James Harrison, I’ll believe he’s not willing to take a pay cut when he says it directly, or when he’s signing with another team. Harrison is going to be about a $5 million salary cap this year if nothing is done with his contract. He has had some injury issues but was about a zillion times better than his LB counterpart, LaMarr Woodley last season. Two seasons ago Woodley signed a six year $61.5 million contract and has amassed less than a half dozen sacks and gone up probably two or three pant sizes in the period since. Since signing his contract, Woodley has been plagued by hamstring, groin, and ankle injuries, which are injuries most commonly attributed to bad training. I’m not one to ever question a players effort but it’s just too easy to take shots at the tubby Woodley after signing that giant contract and playing and looking how he has the past 2 seasons. The Steelers are stuck with Woodley’s contract but hopefully not his gut if he can finally turn it around and go back to being the terror on QB’s he once was.