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News » Pittsburgh Steelers Inside Slant 2009-04-03


Pittsburgh Steelers Inside Slant 2009-04-03


Pittsburgh Steelers Inside Slant 2009-04-03
Pittsburgh has a few goals left in free agency, and they are modest ones.


They want to extend the contract of linebacker James Harrison, who has one year to go on his previous deal.

They want to re-sign special teams ace Keyaron Fox, a backup linebacker and unrestricted free agent.

And they need to sign at least one of their veteran backup quarterbacks, Charlie Batch or Byron Leftwich.

Also, technically, the Steelers want to sign offensive tackle Max Starks to a long-term contract, but that's not likely to happen. With Starks guaranteed nearly $8.5 million this year as their franchise player, doing a longer deal has been difficult.

The negotiations with Harrison's agent also have bogged down because he will be 31 in May, he has a year left under contract and they always could make him their franchise player in 2010, when he turns 32.

Naturally, Harrison would like to be paid as the NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

Fox wants to start somewhere but he's not finding anyone willing to commit to that. He will not start in Pittsburgh barring two injuries to their top five linebackers.

That leaves signing a backup quarterback. Coach Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert, their director of player personnel, each has said he'd like to sign Batch and Leftwich. Leftwich signed with them last August after Batch was knocked out for the season with a broken clavicle. Neither has much going elsewhere at the moment.

The Steelers have just two quarterbacks under contract, Ben Roethlisberger and Dennis Dixon, their fifth-round draft choice last year. Dixon is a keeper, so if they sign Leftwich and Batch, one must ultimately go because they likely won't keep four. It may be why neither has re-signed yet with the Steelers.

Pittsburgh has to sign one of them because Dixon is not yet ready to assume the No. 2 job. They also need two more quarterbacks for training camp. If they sign Batch and Leftwich, they'll be done; if they sign one, they'll pick up a young quarterback somewhere after the draft to serve as their fourth arm in camp.



Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: April 3, 2009

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Matt Spaeth Name: Matt Spaeth
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