A Few Good Decisions
Cardinals and the Steelers immediately pounced on him. This was a move I did not have so much of an issue with although many in Steeler nation did. Gay was insurance if they lost Keenan Lewis to free agency. The re-signing of Ramon Foster was also a good move as he has been a solid reliable offensive lineman for the Steelers. Plaxico Burress was also re-signed. With a full off season of work with the Steelers he can contribute this year. He made only 3 catches last year after signing in week 13 but all 3 were impressive: down the seem high up in traffic with defenders hanging on him. He has the height the Steelers sorely lack in a WR. The only other Steelers receiver capable of making those types of catches is TE Heath Miller. Despite how the media views him, Burress has been a beloved teammate wherever he has been. He will be a good mentor to the “young money crew”. That nickname speaks volume as to why there are reported problems in the locker room. I personally hate that name and those young WR’s need direction as 2 more were added in this year’s draft. I love Antonio Brown but is anyone else sick of Brown strutting 15 yards downfield to showboat after every catch? Hopefully with a full year in the program Burress can rein Brown in because it seemed no one else could in that locker room. Not coaches, not players.
What Was The Hurry To Release Harrison?
Then came the release of James Harrison when they couldn’t come to terms on a contract reduction. It appeared the only reason they needed to release Harrison before free agency began was to free up cap space to re-sign Keenan Lewis who was their best defensive back in 2013. But in another baffling move, the Steelers according to reports did not even try to sign Lewis. Why? Lewis is much younger than CB Ike Taylor who like Harrison carried a massive cap charge for the 2013 season. Yet another example of keeping age for youth. Taylor has maybe a good year or two left. A much younger Lewis proved he could be a number #1 corner for the Steelers for the next 6 or 7 years.
My questions are; why was only Harrison targeted to take a pay cut? Why did the Steelers hurry to cut Harrison before free agency began if they weren’t going to sign Lewis? Even after cutting Harrison ($10.03 million cap charge for 2013 before being released), and seeing how the free agent market was unfolding the Steelers had big time leverage on Ike Taylor ($9.45 million cap charge for 2013), Polamalu ($10.1 million cap charge for 2013), Colon ($7.65 million cap charge for 2013 before being released) and Brett Keisel ($4.9 million cap charge for 2013) who are all 30 or older. After seeing how free agency was and still is trending one would think most of them (exception being Polamalu) would have been willing to take a million dollars or so pay cut rather than face free agency, a new team, system, scheme, moving to a new city, slightly above veteran minimums, and having to fight for a starting job. Ike Taylor even acknowledged as much in an interview.
Next was the outright release of Colon who then signed with the NY Jets for 1.2 million. The Steelers who were hurting for Offensive lineman didn’t ask Colon to take a pay cut. I was never a Willie Colon fan but at 1.2 million he would have been a bargain for a serviceable back up swing guard/tackle and would have saved the cap space they were looking for. Plus the Steelers only had 7 Offensive linemen under contract.
Harrison and Colon eventually did take pay cuts with other teams. Colon’s pay cut itself would have saved the Steelers 4.3 million in cap space. If they had gotten Keisel, Taylor and Harrison to take less, rather then just from Harrison it could have freed up a several million more dollars to sign a few key free agents, maybe even Keenan Lewis. Yet only Harrison was asked to take a pay cut. As free agency played out the Steelers could have gotten Harrison for much less than they were originally offering him. But in another perplexing move decided to slam the door on any Harrison return. Why not at least keep it open? Somehow Jason Worilds improved a whole lot in the 3 weeks after Steelers negotiated to bring Harrison back.