Tom's Offseason Plan - 3rd edition
This is the 3rd edition of my plan. Remember it is not a prediction of what will actually happen. It does represent what I think SHOULD and COULD possibly happen and now takes into account what has happened since 2-19-00 12:01 AM. I have tried to make it as realistic a possibility as I could. In doing so, I have relied on various sources for cap info and draft projections; unfortunately Mr. Rooney�s checkbook wasn�t one of those sources so the cap numbers are approximates.
Here goes again.
Reports indicate that the Steelers had around $10 mill. under the cap going into free agency. This must be kept in mind when making a plan. Let's set aside $5 mill. to sign the rookies right of the bat. That leaves $5 mill.
1. Kevin Colbert has been hired as the new Director of Football Operations. He had been the Lions Director of Pro Scouting.
2. Cowher promoted Lewis to the D coordinators role; hired Willy Robinson, who previously coached at Seattle, as their DB coach; and hired former Kansas City Chiefs offensive lineman Irv Eatman as an assistant O-line coach..
3. Well, Feb. 10, midnight came and went without us re-signing any of our own players, but by Feb. 12 midnight, Roye had signed with the Browns. Oldham signed with the saints.
4. The lowest tender offer of $471,900 was made to each of our RFA's - Richard Huntley, Will Blackwell, & Mike Vrable. That means anyone who wants them gives us their pick for the round the player was drafted. That�s a 4th round for Huntley, a 2nd round for Blackwell, and a 3rd round for Vrable. No one will do this. Well, maybe for Huntley. If they do - I'd take the 4th round pick anyway, because we are deep at RB and there will be some very good players available. We also have the right to match the offers if we choose. Assuming we sign them all for the tender offers, that rounds to $1.4 mill. Leaving me with $3.6 to spend.
5. MAKING CAP ROOM. I need to create $5.7 mill. In order to sign the Other Teams FA�s I�ve targeted. It�s possible.
TRADES: First I'd trade Stewart to anybody for as low as a 3rd round pick. Furthermore, I'm willing to make the pick from next years draft. He's a playmaker who needs a change of scenery. Someone would take him for what I'm asking. I'd consider trading for a player also, but the cap # would have to be right. This might require reworking his deal, but I think he would do this for a chance to start.
I�ll consider offers for trades, but this is the only one I�m offering.
RESTRUCTURED CONTRACTS: These players contracts expire after the 2000 season and I would like to extend them IF it would also provide cap relief in 2000: Bettis, Duffy, Fu, and Ward
These players contracts expire after the 2001 season and I would like to extend them IF it would also provide cap relief in 2000:
Holmes, Gildon, Scott, and Stai
There are some reports that both Flowers and Bruener have re-worked their deals already this off season.
CUTS: None until June 1st was my original plan, but the FO already cut Strzelczyk and that kind of threw parts of my original plan for a loop. I was counting on him making a recovery and pushing for a starting role. I�ll address this problem with a veteran OT or through the draft if my top 2 choices for the #8 pick are gone. The FO also opted not to exercise it�s exclusive right on QB Pete Gonzalez. He signed with the Colts a few days later. Total cap dollars saved equals about $1mill. Amount left = $4.6 mill. + above amount from restructuring.
6. FREE AGENTS
STEELER FREE AGENTS: Roye & Oldham are gone. None of our UFA's are a priority. Tomczak, Hawkins, Harrison, Emmons, and Sweeney do not even get offers. Lyons (if recovering well) and Lance Brown get offers at vet minimums if I think they are needed going into camp. That�s $440,000 for Lyons and $413,000 for Lance Brown. My total to resign our players equals $853k rounded, that leaves me with $3.8 mill. plus whatever room I�ve created by restructuring and will make in the June 1st cuts.
OTHER TEAMS FREE AGENTS I have the cap room needed to sign other teams FA's. It�s still a select list:
I�m going to target NT Ted Washington who is rumored will be cut by the Bills. $3 mill. worth of cap space is what I figure it would take to sign him. I would have like to have signed Tom Barndt but he signed with the bengals. Instead the FO signed two guys who lost their starting jobs last year, former bengal Kimo Von Olhoffen and former patriot Chris Sullivan. Their total cap hit for this season is about $2.5 mill.
Next is the QB position - I'm going after a veteran QB. My choice now is former Giant, Kent Graham. The offer is going to be around $ 2 mill. in cap dollars (Banks re-upped with the ravens for more then $3 mill a year.)
To solve the problem at OT caused by Strzelczyk being cut, I�ve targeted K.C.�s Glenn Parker or former Bronco Tony Jones. The offer is around $2mill. in cap money.
There are of course several other players I'd like to see in the black and gold (guys like FB Howard Griffith), but the $9 mill. I�ve spent on other teams UFAs is probably making Rooney anxious already. Anyway, $9.5. mill. minus the $3.8 mill. I still had under the cap means I had to create 5.7 mill in cap space above by restructuring, trades, etc. Not a problem. Other teams have created twice that amount just be restructuring a few players. So can the Steelers and they actually seem willing to do it this year.
7. THE DRAFT (possible according to several mock drafts) (No changes here, but I was tempted to go with an OT in round 1 and I though about not going with the D-linemen, but I�m unsure we will get Washington for what I�m offering and I�m not sold on Kimo or Sullivan.)
Chad Pennington-Marshall QB 6'3 220 5.0 Comments: the top QB in the draft. Great size & intangibles, good arm strength, and good mobility for a guy his size. He reads defenses very well and is a natural leader. Incredible work ethic and will spend all week in the film room. The knock on him is the level of competition he faced at Marshall. Southern Conference Freshman of the Year in 1995. As a sophomore, teamed with Randy Moss and set the NCAA record for touchdown passes with 39. Passing efficiency continued to improve in 1998 and 1999 after Moss left. Capable of making all the passes. Smart enough to win several academic awards. Shows excellent leadership. Accurate . Tough. poised. Productive. :Projection: 1st Round; Top 10 (The franchise QB we need, and he's not Kordell - 2 big pluses - if he's not there then Redman. If neither are there then go LT, Samuels, Smith, or McIntosh)
Brandon Short LB 6'2" 245# 4.6 Penn State #43
1999 STATS: 101 TACKLES, 15 TACKLES FOR LOSS, 4 SACKS, 1 INTERCEPTION*****1998 STATS: 75 TACKLES, 17 TACKLES FOR LOSS, 5.5 SACKS, 1 INTERCEPTION (Emmon's, who isn't getting resigned, replacement on the outside, also could move inside, where he played in college, if Kirk or Holmes goes down.)
Round 3a :
Laveranues Coles WR Projected as late 3/4th 5'11" also 6'1 195 also 200 4.3 Florida State #7 1999 STATS: KICKED OFF TEAM EARLY IN SEASON, 14.9 YD/CATCH for 179 YD and 1 TD*****1998 STATS: 20.9 YD/CATCH for 397 YD and 3 TD (He's had some legal troubles, but so did Moss. We need his speed.)
Jerry Deloach DT California 6'4 310pounds
"Simply stated: very sound in every aspect of the position" - lindy's (Steed's back up, and eventual starter, maybe this season if Steed can't go. Also could play DE in the 3-4 )
Round 3c - for losing Lake:
Steve Warren DT 6'1" 315# 5.2 Nebraska #96
1999 STATS: 42 TACKLES, 13 TACKLES FOR LOSS, 7 SACKS*****1998 STATS: 26 TACKLES, 1 TACKLE FOR LOSS (back up for Steed or Deloach)
Hank Poteat 5'10" 190# 4.4 Pittsburgh #31
1999 STATS: 43 TACKLES, 3 INTERCEPTIONS, 12 PASSES BROKEN UP***** 1998 STATS: 58 TACKLES, 6 INTERCEPTIONS, 8 PASSES BROKEN UP (Small but fast, a good value in round 5, say goodbye to Simmons)
Rob Riti-Missouri 6'2 285 5.0
Comments: 2nd rated center in the draft Projection: 3rd to 6th Round (Eventual replacement for Dawson, immediate replacement for Duffy, making him move to G.)
CB Courtney Jackson Arizona State 6'1 190 (Nice size and speed, might be able to be #4 guy beating out Towsend, or move to safety and let Brown or Davis go.)
I still need a FB, but I'm out of picks. Here's the two undrafted rookie FA FB's I invite to camp. Who knows, maybe one of them can beat out Witman.
Arkansas, Nathan Norman 6' 238 - not versitile, but a good run blocker.
Tennessee, Phillip Crosby 6'1 243 - physical and capable of destroying tacklers.
Another possible undrafted rooike FA:
OSU�s TE, Steve Wisniewski, 6�5" 263, A good blocker, decent hands, but is slow; insurance in case Lyons can�t come back.
THE CAMP ROSTER
No guaranteed starters going into camp
Ultimately, if I get the player's I have mentioned, our roster looks like this going into camp:
QB: Pennington, Graham, Wright, Stewart (If we can�t trade Stewart, he should really be listed as a WR.)
RB: Bettis, Huntley, Fu, Amos
FB: Witman, Norman, Crosby (Come on Rookies, beat Witman off the roster)
WR: Edwards, Wards, Coles, Blackwell, Shaw, Johnson (I really need Coles speed here, so he better stay out of trouble & pan out) (Add Stewart to my WR depth if I can�t trade him.)
TE: Bruener, Tuman, Cushing, Lyons, Wisniewski (Only 3 make the final roster )
OT: Gandy, Farris, Pourdanish, Parker or Jones (Still not as strong as I�d like, but gets stronger if Pennigton and Redman are gone)
G: Stai, Faneca, Duffy, Orlandini, Conrad, Brown (Only 4 make the 53 man roster)
C: Dawson, Riti
LS: Schenk (if Riti can LS, he could be gone)
DE: Deloach, Von Olhoffen, Sullivan, Smith, Staat, Henry, Earnie Brown
NT: Steed, Washington, Warren (Latest word on Steed is the knees are good & he should be ready for camp)
ILB: Kirkland, Holmes, Fiala, Kelsay
OLB: Gildon, Porter, Vrable, Short (talk about competition)
CB: Washington, Scott, Poteat, Jackson, Townsend, Simmons
S: Flowers, Sheilds, Davis, Brown (I don�t like my depth here, but one of the CB�s may move to S)