Reflections on Alan Faneca’s Retirement

Former Pittsburgh Steelers All-Pro guard Alan Faneca, perhaps the franchises best player at that position, retired Tuesday ending a 13 year career.

  • Drafted by the Steelers in the first round of the 1998 NFL draft, Faneca broke into the starting line up and remained a fixture at guard for a decade.

During the team’s 2003 season Faneca proved his value to the team yet again, by shifting to left tackle (on first and second downs) when injuries had decimated the team’s offensive line. Faneca’s peers nonetheless voted him to the Pro Bowl.

Alan Faneca Tom Donahoe’s Last Great First Round Pick

Tom Donahoe, whose personnel moves had a huge hand in the Steelers return to contender status of the 1990’s, is oft remembered for a series of premium picks in the late 1990’s that either “didn’t pan out” (Troy Edwards) or were outright busts (Jermaine Stephens, Scott Shields, Jeremy Staat.)

But Faneca was has last great, and arguably greatest pick, and certainly his best first round pick overall. Coming to the Steelers in 1998, Faneca got a unique vantage point into Steelers history.

Faneca participated in (although did not contribute to) the decline of the Cowher-Donahoe era, helped usher in the rebirth and subsequent “knocking on heaven’s door” phase of the early Cowher-Colbert era, basked in the glory of Super Bowl XL, and stayed on for the beginning of the Mike Tomlin era.

No Money, No Honey….

Faneca, who was drafted mere months after the Steelers 1998 AFC Championship loss to the Denver Broncos, would suffer through the agony of two more AFC championship losses, both at the hands of the Patriots, and both at Heinz Field.

Alas, Faneca never had the chance to exorcise those AFC Championship demons with the rest of his teammates as he had departed for the New York Jets as a free agent in the 2008 off season.

Alan Faneca’s departure was not without some acrimony. Pittsburgh wanted him back but, as is their nature, the Steelers were not ready to break the bank for Faneca.

When it became clear an agreement was not in the offing, Faneca asked for a trade, and criticized the team for failing to provide him with financial security – an odd comment from someone who’d been paid tens of millions of dollars by the Steelers.

Mike Tomlin inherited the situation, and managed it well. Faneca might not have been happy, he might not have bought into Larry Zierlein’s new blocking schemes (not that he should have) but he certainly gave his all while on the field, right up until his final game against Jacksonville.

  • Fanaca of course played for New York for two seasons and then finished his career at Pittsburgh West, aka the Cardinals.

There’s been a lot of speculation as to who will be the first pure-Cowher era Steeler to enter into the Hall of Fame. While Jerome Bettis will likely beat him there, if there is any justice Faneca will some day join him.

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Watch Tower: Should 2008 Steelers Have Played Mewelde Moore Sooner?

The Pittsburgh media provided a chorus last week of praise for Steelers running back Mewelde Moore last week and, as detailed above, commentators were tripping over themselves to ask “Why hasn’t Moore gotten more carries?”

  • Anytime a player comes off the bench and does well, the question of where has this guy been is always an interesting one.

But A little background is useful, consider….

Anthony Brown and Chris Conrad alternated at right tackle for the Steelers during the 1999 season. The operative question in those lineup shifts was, “Which one is worse?” The Steelers offensive line and running game were horrible that year. Game fifteen found both men injured and up stepped Shar Pourdanesh. Pourdanesh was no world-beater, but he was a definite upgrade, and his presence (along with the snow) helped the Steelers notch a 30 to 20 victory over the Carolina Panthers, and thus the Steelers averted their worst season since finishing 5-11 in 1988.

When asked why Pourdanesh hadn’t played sooner, Bill Cowher answered that he honestly had no idea….

Considering how poorly the Steelers line played in 1999, the question of “Where was Pourdanesh?” was spot on.

  • Is the question, “Why haven’t we seen more of Moore?” legit now?

The answer is no.

During their victories against the Texans and the Browns the Steelers gained at total of three hundred yards. They got smothered against the Eagles, but does anybody think that Moore would have been a difference maker? There’s a chance, but there were a lot of other things going wrong that day.

Moore got plenty of time against the Ravens, but only after Carey Davis got hurt. Ah, but Davis only netted 15 yards on 8 carries, so its obvious that the Steelers should have put Moore in first, right?

  • Well, Moore did get in, and he also got 8 carries… Alas, he netted 2 yards less than Davis.

Mewelde Moore played exceptionally well against a tough Jaguar defense, and clearly deserves to see the ball more often.

But it’s a flat-out incorrect criticize the Steelers for not giving him more carries sooner.

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Decision to Resign James Farrior Speaks to Self Confidence of Steelers Braintrust

In a move that took Steelers Nation by surprise, the Steelers announced today that they have resigned James Farrior to a five year extension worth 18.25 million dollars. Farrior had been set to become a free agent at the end of this season, but repeatedly stated his desire to remain with the team.

Drafted as an outside linebacker by Bill Parcells and the New York Jets in 1997, James Farrior signed with the Steelers in 2002 and has been a mainstay of their defense since. He’s led the team in tackles in four out of five seasons and has compiled over ten sacks in the last two season, posting 6.5 just last year.

Farrior’s signing represents a bold and clear signal that Kevin Colbert and Mike Tolmin are very self-assured in the course they are charting for the Steelers future.

The Steelers linebacking corps is one of the team’s strengths. James Harrison emerged as Pro Bowl talent in 2007, Larry Foote provides solid play at the other inside linebacker slot, and the development of Lamarr Woodley and Lawrence Timmons holds tremendous promise.

This move is so bold because the Steelers have four offensive lineman who are in the final year of their contract. The offensive line is not a team strength, nor do they have much in the way of up and coming talent on the offensive line.

Farrior’s value to the team is manifest, and his dedication to conditioning and preparation is second to none. But age 33, the easy money would have had been down on Farrior becoming expendable given that Timmons is coming along so nicely, thus allowing the team to focus on resigning their offensive lineman.

Since the advent of free agency the Steelers have identified the players they feel they need to win and made concerted efforts to resign these players before they reach the open market. They have also strongly prefered to invest long-term money in players who they feel are dedicated to the team.

By signing Farrior, the Steelers make it clear: They regard him as a championship-caliber player who is essential to winning and they are committed to keeping him.

This move continues the trend established during the 2008 NFL draft. Mike Tomlin went on record after the playoff loss to the Jaguars saying that the offensive and defensive lines were priorities. Yet, he and Kevin Colbert steadfastly insisted that they were going to draft the best available athletes. Steel Curtain Rising wrote that off as attempted misdirection, but we were forced to eat our words. As the 2008 draft unfolded, lineman came off the board in droves, yet Tomlin and Colbert stuck to their guns.

Locking James Farrior up is the right thing to do. Signing a player at his age is always a calculated risk, but Farrior has been healthy throughout his career.

Farrior’s signing also dispels the argument voiced by Ed Bouchette that the Steelers are too preoccupied with the ownership restructuring to focus on extending contracts.

To that end, Steelers Nation should hope that the remainder of the off season brings further contract extension surprises with an eye toward protecting Ben Roethlisberger

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Goodell Rooney Brother Meeting to Signal Endgame in Steelers Ownership Restructuring?

Recent reports that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will call a meeting with the five Rooney could signal that the Steelers ownership restructuring process is reaching its end game. The Post Gazette’s Ed Bouchette broke news of the forthcoming meeting last Sunday. According Bouchette, Goodell asked for the meeting after Paul Taglibue appraised of the situation. Taglibue, a former NFL commissioner, has been moderating the ownership restructuring discussions between the five Rooney brothers.

League to Play Decisive Role?

The league does not normally delve so deeply into internal ownership issues, so Taglibue’s role in this process was eye brow raising from the start. At issue are the needs of the Rooney brothers, now in their late 60’s or 70’s, to plan their estates, and NFL rules that prohibit teams for involvement with casino gambling operations, which the Rooneys have at their racetracks in New York and Florida.

The exact tenor of these intra family discussions varies depending on the source. Some sources describe them as an ongoing “family feud.” Others sources, while admitting to some tension between the parties – and generations – cast the discussions as generally amicable, if highly complex and exceedingly difficult.

  • Dan Rooney currently controls 16% of the team, and would like to buy out his brothers, but the other Rooney brothers have rejected two offers from Dan.

These rejections led the other four Rooney brothers to seek an investor capable of purchasing their shares, and New York billionaire Stanley Druckenmiller (and Steeler fan) has indicated he is ready, willing, and able to buy our the four younger Rooneys. Indeed, Druckenmiller today reaffirmed this his bid to buy out the Rooney brothers with a single, straight cash transaction remains on the table.

Reading Between the Lines

Steelers Digest Editor Bob Labriola wrote about the ownership restructuring in the August 2nd edition of the Steelers Digest. Labriola edited the publication for more than 20 years, working directly out of the Steeler offices. While he is not the most objective source, he undoubtedly has better access than any other journalist to what’s really going on behind closed doors. Two weeks ago Labriola made this observation:

The NFL is sensitive to the Rooney ownership issues, it wants Dan and Art II to continue to run the franchise, and it doesn’t want the team to incur more than a manageable debt. Any sale of the Steelers would be subject to approval of 24 of the NFL’s 32 owners. (emphasis added)

Reading between the lines Labriola’s words translates into this: The NFL and/or Dan Rooney are ready to use its muscle to influence the process on the side of Dan Rooney. Just as important is Labriola’s comment that the league is sensitive to debt issues. You can interpret that to mean that any final deal will most likely not result in Dan Rooney as the exclusive buyer of his brother’s shares.

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Several Questions on Steelers Sale Answered by Post-Gazette Reporting

Dogged reporting by Gary Dulac and Bob Smizik have answered many questions about the Steelers impending sale/ownership restructuring.

  • Last night, Steel Curtain Rising pointed out two major inconsistencies in the national stories on a Stanley Druckenmiller bid to acquire controlling interest in the Steelers.

Those reports indicated that Druckenmiller was close to an agreement with Tim, John, and Pat Rooney to buy their shares of the Steelers. However, those shares would only bring Drunkenmiller 48% of the Steelers.

Gary Dulac of the Post Gazette has confirmed, with two sources, that Art Rooney Jr. is also considering selling to Druckenmiller. That would give him 64%. This is also supported by a press release issued by the four Rooney brothers, confirming that they had hired Goldman Sacks to advise them on a potential sale.

  • Credit Dulac for actually getting Tom McGinley on the record. McGinley’s comments confirm that this is quite serious, and not just a product of idle speculation.

McGinley also sheds light on the tenor of these negotiations, as he expressed to Dulac his hope that this works out, given that he regards the Rooney boys like brothers. This both suggests that some of the reported tension within the family is real, but it also holds out the possibility of an amicable settlement.

Dulac explicated stated that McGinley’s willingness to sell is unknown, although this comment is a little odd given that one must figure that if he spoke to McGinley, he must have queried McGinley about his intent.

Dan Rooney’s Share of the Race Tracks

The Post Gazette’s Bob Smizk also spoke to an issue first raised by Steel Curtian Rising when the story broke, namely what is going to happen to Dan Rooney’s interest in the family race tracks. While Smizk reports no new facts, he does suggest that any such deal would include Dan’s brother buying his share of the race tracks.

  • Various press reports have cited studies assessing the value of the Steelers at between 800 million and one billion dollars. No media have reported on the value of the racetracks role.

Smizik suggests, as did Steel Curtin Rising, that any consolidation would include Dan Rooney’s shares in the race tracks, which is logical given that this move was spurred by a need to conform to NFL anti-gambling policies.

Smizik’s is interesting, if perhaps flawed. He concludes, probably correctly, that Rooney cannot afford to buy out all of his brothers. He continues to say that Dan Rooney can probably not afford to buy out even one of his brothers, even if he includes his shares in the race track as part of the price.

This second assumption by Smizik is less certain, as it has got to be easier to put together the money to buy 16% of the Steelers as opposed to the money needed to by 64%. However, any proposal by Dan Rooney was almost certainly predicated on him and/or Art II using their share of the profits to finance the deal, and a smaller ownership stake would naturally correspond to a smaller ownership stake.

Timing of Steelers Sale/Ownership Restructuring

Gerry Dulac’s reporting stands in sharp contrast to reports issue by both the Associated Press (as reported on ESPN) and the Pittsburgh Tribune Review. Both of those reports indicated that a deal might close within days. Dulac’s indicates a timeline of about a month.

The Rooney brother’s press release indicates that they are contracting Goldman Sacks as part of any estate planning process, and also indicates support for Dan and Art II Rooney’s statement reassuring a place for Rooney family in the teams management.

If the timeline reported by Dulac is correct, then it increases the probability that a deal will be worked out that leaves Dan Rooney in control of the team, and possible preserving controlling interest by the Rooney/McGinleys.

On the other hand, if the AP and Trib. Review are correct, and the deal will close in the next few days, then it is unlikely that the Rooneys will maintain controlling interest.

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Dan Rooney Losing Steelers Is a Real Possibility, As “Restructuring” Rapidly Evolves

The restructuring of the Steelers ownership is a evolving fast.

On Monday, July 7th both national and local news reports indicated that Dan Rooney was attempting to put together a deal to buy out his brothers, both to conform to NFL anti-gambling guidelines and assure an orderly succession that would keep the team in family hands.

Tuesday July 8th brought the news that Stanley Druckenmiller of Duquesne Capital Fund Management had emerged as a possible buyer for the shares of Tim, John, and Pat Rooney. Early reports in both the Post-Gazette and the Tribune-Review cited unidentified sources that indicated whatever transaction took place, the Steelers management was not likely to be altered.

Some of those reports sought to dispute an article published in the Wall Street Journal, that painted a picture of acrimony within the Rooney family emerging over these negotiations. One unidentified source that was quoted in several reports indicated that the Rooney family was still close, but that there were concerns about inheritance tax.

The tenor of these reports generally held that the Rooney’s sought outside investors because they were concerned that Dan’s offer to his brothers was undervalued, and that he was taking on too much debt. One source suggested that outside bids were being considered as part of the “due diligence” process.

That news was reassuring to the faithful of Steelers Nation, but the good news did not last for long.

In the early hours of Wednesday July 9th, both and ESPN’s websites are running an Associated Press report that says that Druckenmiller will make an offer to buy majority interest in the team. The report also states that: “The impending sale is the result of a feud among members of one of sport’s most renowned families and has been simmering about two years.”

The Post-Gazette had reported the Druckenmiller was merely interested in providing capital, and that he would leave Rooney in control of the team, leaving the implication that a deal would leave Dan Rooney as majority owner.

However, the latest AP report diverges from that line sharply, stating that Drunkenmiller “is said to want to keep Art and Dan as part of the ownership group.” According to the AP, the deal could close in as soon as two days.

Unanswered Questions about the Steelers Ownership Restructuring 

It is now clear that there is a very real possibility that the Rooney’s could soon lose control of the Steelers for the first time in their 75 year history.

Two days of press reports reveal a significant contrast between national and local coverage. National coverage has strongly slanted toward the conflict angle, whereas local coverage has leaned toward continuity, although the Tribune-Review’s most recent article about the story refers to a “Rooney family feud.”

It is impossible to know which set of reporters has better sources, although events on the ground do seem to be breaking toward the version depicted by the national media.

All press reports indicate that each of the Rooney boys own 16% of the team, with the McGinley family owning the remaining 20%. Press reports indicate that Drunkenmiller is going to buy out the three Rooney sons, John, Tim, and Pat.

If each son owns 16%, then that only adds up to 48%. If only two brothers sell, as some reports have indicated, then that only adds up to 16%. No press report has indicated that Art Rooney Jr. is interested in selling out, which makes sense as he has worked for the team, and only one report has mentioned the McGinley family selling, but that story mentioned that they would sell part of their shares to Rooney.

In addition, it must be assumed that any deal would require Dan selling his shares in the two race tracks that his brothers would like to continue to operate. Steel Curtin Rising’s speculation yesterday that the racetracks were declining in value has been contradicted by press reports indicating that both Pat and Dan Rooney declared in 2002 that the racetracks were more profitable than the Steelers.

If that is the case then it is hard then it would seem that Dan Rooney would need less cash to complete a partial buyout of one or more of his brothers.

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Steelers for Sale? Ownership Structure in “Transition” – The Facts

The Post-Gazette, the Tribune-Review as well as ESPN are reporting that the Steelers ownership structure is in transition.

The Rooney family has controlled the Steelers since Art Rooney Sr. bought the team in 1933. When Art passed away in 1988, ownership of the team passed to the five Rooney sons and the McGinley family.

In addition to the Steelers, the Rooney family has had holdings in real estate as well as the race tracks. As MVN website reports, many of the Rooney’s race tracks have now turned to slot machines, and this runs contrary to NFL ownership policy.

The current plan is for Dan Rooney and Art Rooney II to buy out their brothers, Art Jr., Pat, Tim, and John Rooney. All accounts concur that these negotiations have been on-going for two years now.

The NFL has reported that the Roger Goodell has appointed former commissioner Paul Tagliabue to represent the league’s interests in this matter. I

In a press release issued this afternoon, both Dan and Art II sought to reassure fans that the team would stay in the Rooney family, although other press reports indicate that the transition might not be smooth or seamless. (See, Steelers for Sale? Analysis)

For more news see “Steelers for Sale? Ownership Structure in “Transition” – Analysis.”

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Steelers Cut Najeh Davenport – Backfield Winnowing Begins

Training camp remains 29 days away, but the process of thinning out the glut at back up running back has begun. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review first reported that the Steelers have waived reserve running back Najeh Davenport, after unsuccessful attempts to trade the reserve running back.

The Steelers picked up Davenport in September 2006, after it became clear that Duce Staley was unable to serve as an effective complement to Willie Parker.

At 6-1, 245 pounds and arriving with a 4.9 yards per carry average, Najeh Davenport tantalized…. Although he did have an injury history, he appeared capable of filling big back void created by Jerome Bettis’ retirement and Stanley’s decline.

While Davenport’s did put in some solid performances and his overall numbers were respectable, he failed to deliver at key moments. The coaches opted not to use him in a goal-line situation against New England, and overall he was unable to help the team move the chains when the Steelers needed to kill the clock in crucial games.

It became clear after Willie Parker got hurt in St. Louis that Davenport would never grow beyond a role player. As a starter against Baltimore in the season finale and in the playoffs against Jacksonville, Davenport totaled 52 yards on 28 carries.

  • The signing of Mewelde Moore and the drafting of Rashard Mendenhall apparently made Davenport expendable.

Davenport was due to make one million dollars this year, and his departure gives the much needed Steelers salary cap room as they enter negotiations with their draft class.

This move also signals a vote of confidence in Gary Russell, an young back with tremendous potential. All major press reports indicated that the Steelers prefered to keep Russell over Davenport.

The Steelers also waived two other players, and must shed two more to reach the NFL’s 80 man roster limit prior to convening training camp in Latrobe on July 27th.

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Tomlin Reveals Willingness to Adapt in 2008 Offseason

With the end of OTA’s, the Steelers enter the only portion of the year which can credibility called “the off season.” When quizzed about what his players had shown him during OTA’s, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin quickly to indicated out that little can be learned from “football in shorts.”

While that may be true of the players, the same can not be said for the coach. This off season revealed a lot about Mike Tolmin, and its time to take a look at what Steelers Nation has learned about their standard bearer.

  • Mike Tomlin is not emotionally vested in the decisions he’s made.

Personnel provides the perfect example. Tomlin’s two signature personnel moves during his first year were the acquisition of Adrian Rossum and the decision to sign Sean Mahan to start at center. Mahan was woefully inadequate at center, and Rossum was average at best as a returner.

  • Rossum was among the first cut after the season, and Pittsburgh’s second free agent acquisition sent Sean Mahan from being a starter to merely “having the chance to compete” at guard.

Special teams is another area with Tomlin’s dispassionate decision making was display. Tomlin’s credo since day one has been that special teams is 1/3 of the game and should be treated as such. To that end he used two draft picks on special teams players and the team devoted a record amount of practice time to special teams.

Special teams were of course one of the team’s Achilles heels during the 2007 campaign. Whereas Bill Cowher would have fired special teams coach Bob Ligashesky in the blink of an eye, Tomlin stood by his man (a decsion which Steel Curtin Rising took issue with), declaring that the base of the problem lie in Pittsburgh’s lack of special team aces.

But he has gone beyond that. He’s now drastically cut back on special team practices, banking on scarcity to create a sense of urgency. It remains to be seen if this approach will bear fruit, but special teams does come down to attitude and “want to,” so this shift in strategy is certainly plausible.

Tomlin has also shown himself to be a man who is flexible enough to adapt to changing circumstances. An apostle of building through the draft, Tomlin moved quickly when Justin Hartwig unexpectedly became available to shore up the center position.

Outside of signing Mewelde Moore, Pittsburgh made few other free agent signings, but they did entertain a parade free agent safeties, tight ends, and lineman, thus making good on Tomlin’s pledge to “leave no stone unturned” in his quest to better the Steelers.

  • Finally, Tomlin confirmed that he is a fundamentalist.

He began the off season by pointedly observing that the Steelers needed to get “younger and bigger” on both lines. Yet, the Steelers stuck to their board and resisted any urge to reach during the 2008 draft. The quality of their draft will remain unknown for years to come, but the Steelers never blinked as they watched lineman leave the board in droves during rounds one and two.

During the 2007 Steelers Nation learned little about Tomlin beyond the fact that he said the right things at the appropriate times and nurture good relations with the press. The 2008 off season has shown us that, at the very least, Mike Tomlin is a man who is willing to adapt.

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Judging Free Agent Decisions: Don’t Use a 20/20 Lense

Ed Bouchette’s article analogizing between the Penguins soon-to-come taste of life under a salary cap to how the Steelers have managed the cap since 1993 hit the nail on the head.

  • A salary cap forces teams to answer tough questions. Who is essential? Who we can win without? Who gives us the best bang for our buck?

In chronicling the Steelers free agency history, Bouchette offered the signing of Duce Staley and the departure of Mike Vrabel as examples of mistakes.

That Bouchette was echoing conventional wisdom does not invalidate the underlying question: Is it fair to charge the Black and Gold brain trust with errors for both of these free agent moves?

  • The answer is “no,” that’s not a fair assessment.

Duce Staley arrived to shore up the Steelers ability to impose its will by rushing. He signed a 5 year 14 million dollar deal with a 4 million dollar signing bonus, played in 19 games starting 8 of those, including the playoffs, and gained 1058 yards. Those yards came in 2004 and 2005, as he only took the field for a single down in 2006 before getting cut at mid-season.

Viewed solely from the bottom line, the Steelers paid 5.6 million to get 529 yards rushing per season, and then essentially gave Stanley another 2.8 for playing a single down during another season.

  • Signing Staley was still the right move in spite of those lopsided numbers.

Staley reestablished the run in Pittsburgh by banging out 4.6 yards per carry for 700 yards during the first seven games of 2004. This effort kept Jerome Bettis fresh, paving the way for the Bus to log 941 yards in just six starts when Stanly got hurt. Stanley was essential to the Steelers division playoff victory. Not only did he relieve Bettis during a crucial moment in the game, but the tandem of Stanley and Bettis hammered the Jets into submission on a day when Ben Roethlisberger looked every bit the rookie he was.

Duce also delivered in 2005, despite only managing 148 yards on 38 carries in five apperances. Midway through the season the Steelers traveled to Lambeau field with Jerome Bettis and Ben Roethlisberger out of the line up. Going 16-9-1 for 65 yards, Charlie Batch looked very much like a quarterback who had not started since 2001. Staley saved the day running for 76 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries.

As Bill Cowher said the day of Staley’s release: Staley doesn’t play that game, the Steelers don’t win. Without that win, there is no magical eight game winning streak, no playoffs, no Super Bowl XL victory.

  • Staley was a costly investment, but Duce paid timely dividends. I’d sign him again in a heart beat.

As the only outside linebacker to catch touchdown passes in a Super Bowl, Mike Vrabel has doubtlessly fueled his share of buyers remorse in the Steelers front office.

The fact that Vrable was a 1st All-Pro in 2007 speaks for itself (certainly, you’d take him over Clark Haggans), but for all his success, is Vrabel really “the one that got away?”

Mike Prisuta once pointed out that Vrabel did whatever Pittsburgh asked of him. He gained weight. He lost weight. He switched positions. Yet the Steelers failed to find a place for him.

True enough. But one of the reasons for that was that Vrabel was plagued by several nagging injuries that limited his playing time in Pittsburgh. The year he reached free agency, the two incumbent starters at OLB, Joey Porter and Jason Gildon, registered 10 and 13.5 sacks respectively.

Porter went on to become a mainstay of the Steelers defense during this decade. While Gildon did fade fast after his 30th birthday, he posted double digit sack numbers in 2001, and made his third straight Pro Bowl in 2002 while collecting 9 sacks.

  • Its good that Vrabel blossomed, and it is a shame he wasn’t wearing Black and Gold when it happened.

In 20/20 hindsight you’d like to say, “We really should have found a way to make a place for him.” But the truth that luxury doesn’t exist the salary cap age. The Steelers chose the two players who were performing over a man who, at the time, was a perpetual “up and comer.”

They made the best choice they could with the information that had at the time, and that is only way to make and measure of free agent decisions.

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