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Kevin Colbert On Free Agency And The Salary Cap

Kevin Colbert met with some members of the local media today for his annual post-season news conference. As you might expect, the Steelers GM didn’t drop any revelations about free agency or their off-season plans. If you aren’t familiar with Colbert, this is the time of year, more so than during the season, where he puts on a stoic poker face, and gives very guarded answers.  He did have some interesting views to share, though.

When asked how bad the Steelers salary cap situation was, Colbert said, “As always, we have some work to do to be in compliance by March 11. In looking at it we think everything will be manageable within that time frame, but again you have to discuss terminations, restructurings and extensions in trying to accomplish that.”

The salary cap situation, while a challenge, is something that is somewhat overblown by media. Colbert’s answer is very similar to what I’ve said many times, and I agree that terminations, restructures, and extensions will all be part of the team’s moves this off-season.

When asked if he thought the team has mismanaged their cap, the Steelers GM said:

“No, I really don’t. Nobody has the same 53 guys. We have to manage ours as best as possible. The goal is always going to be competing for a Super Bowl championship. To win the Super Bowl championship you obviously have to get in the playoffs. That standard will never change. We’re never going to say, ‘OK, we know we’re not a contender. We’ve got to gut this thing and start over.’ I never want to see that day. As I said earlier, you don’t want to get into the position of drafting a franchise quarterback. It’ll never be acceptable for this organization to gut it and start over.

“Our challenge is to compete and improve at the same time. We did what we thought we should do with the cap in order to do that. That’s our challenge again this year, to take what we have from a cap standpoint, where we are from a record standpoint, and improve them both. Can you look back on decisions and say ‘Boy, I wish I would’ve done this or that?’ Sure, but we do that with draft picks, every signing, but I don’t fault the philosophy as to why we did what we did. There was a reason we did everything, be it short term, cap gain, or long-term security of a player.”

Colbert confirmed what everyone should expect- The Steelers won’t likely be using a franchise or transition tag this year. When asked if the Steelers will have enough cap room to do something in free agency Colbert replied,  “Are we a dollar under the cap or are we $3 million under the cap? We won’t know that until we get to March 11. You hope to have maneuverability at that stage.”

He also confirmed that the team is discussing options with their own free agents, though, he wouldn’t call it negotiations at this stage. In regards to those talks heating up when the combine rolls around, he said, “The combine’s a nice collective group of people where parties involved are within a five-block area, so communication is easy. It can be personal if you want it to be. And by then we have a lot more questions answered than we have at this point. This thing changes daily with players getting terminated from other teams, discussions we’re having either going the way we want them to go or not the way we want them to go, getting a better idea every day about the free agency class, as well as the draft class. We just concluded preliminary meetings with the scouts on the draft class, and then starting [Thursday] we have our free agency meetings with the scouts and the coaching staff. So again, every day you get a clearer picture of where you want to be or where you could possibly be come March 11.”

He gave no clues as to which of their own free agents the team was targeting.  “Who knows. Who knows. I mean, really, again, until you get further down the road with your evaluations to see how your own stack up against the alternatives. What are the chances of signing the outside guys that you don’t know?”

When asked about the possibility of keeping both Worilds and Woodley, Colbert said, “Yeah, we could. There are an infinite number of possibilities. We won’t exclude anything, because like I said this thing changes daily and you have to be open to all those possibilities.”

His response when asked about extending Ben Roethlisberger- “We won’t discuss individual players.”

About Steve Alan

Steve, known by most as TTF, is owner of TheSteelersFans and administrator of the best Steelers message board on the net. Big fan of strong coffee and hardcore Steelers fan from womb to tomb.