Tom's Offseason Plan
Before I get to it, let me say that this is MY plan, not a prediction of what will actually happen. It does represent what I think SHOULD and COULD possibly happen. 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. Here goes.
Reports indicate that the Steelers have around $10 mill. under the cap. 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. Hire Jerry Angelo as GM. He's currently with Tampa.
2. Hire Jack Del Rio as D-coordinator. He's the Raven's LB coach right now and has already said he would like the DC job in NO with Hasslet.
3. Re-sign Roye. I figure $3 mill. a year should do it.
None of our other UFA's are a priority. Tomczak, Hawkins, Harrison, Emmons, and Sweeney do not even get offers. Lyons (if healthy), Lance Brown, and Oldham get offers at vet minimums if I think they are needed going into camp.
4. Make the lower tender offers (around $500k) to our RFA's - Richard Huntley, John Fiala, Will Blackwell, & Mike Vrable. That means anyone who wants them gives us there 3rd round pick. No one will do this, even for Huntley. If they do - I'd take the 3rd round pick anyway, because we are deep at RB and there will be some very good players available. So I've probably spent all my cap money if we re-sign all these guys.
5. Time to make some cap room 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. Steed is also up for trade. (I'll come back to Steed later in case I can't move him.)
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 (Save all the comments about me being against mortgaging the future. The Steelers are in trouble now. I don't mind taking a loan out during the bad times; I'm just against it during the good times.)
CUTS: None until after the draft, and probably after June 1.
6. OK, I should now have the cap room needed to sign other teams FA's. It's a select list: I'm going after the Charger's DT Norman Hand at about $4 mill. a year. (I'd consider KC's DT, Tom Barndt at $1.5 mill.) Next is the QB position - I'm going after a veteran QB, but not too old of one. My choice is Raven's QB Tony Banks for around $1.5 to 2 mill. - If he can stop turning over the ball, he's a franchise QB. But he won't just be handed the team, he'll have to fight for it in camp. (If I can't get Banks, Bobby Hoying or Jay Feidler for around $1 mill would be ok) Joey Galloway is my next target, but it might not be able to be done under the cap. (If I can't get Galloway, I'd look at Titans OT Runyan - but again he's probably out of our cap range.) There are of course several other players I'd like to see in the black and gold, but this is probably more than Rooney will OK.
7. THE DRAFT (possible according to several mock drafts):
Round 1. Chad Pennington-Marshall QB 6'3 220 5.0 Comments: Overall, the top QB in the draft. He may not have quite the physical skills of Chris Redman, but he makes up for it in intangibles. He has great size, good arm strength, and good mobility for a guy his size. He reads defenses very well and he is a natural leader, drawing comparisons to Peyton Manning. He has incredible work ethic and will spend all week in the film room disecting defenses if necessary. The only knock on him is the level of competition he faced at Marshall, but scouts will be able to look past that. It might take him a while to adjust to the pro game, but eventually this guy has star written all over him.
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)
Round 2 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 (Emmons', who isn't getting re-signed, 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.)
Round 3b 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 C. 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)
Round 4 Hank Poteat, CB 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)
Round 5 Rob Riti-Missouri, C 6'2 285 5.0 Comments: 2nd rated center in the draft Projection: 3rd Round (eventual replacement for Dawson, immediate replacement for Duffy, making him move to G.)
Round 6 Courtney Jackson, CB 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 versatile, but a good run blocker. Tennessee, Phillip Crosby 6'1 243 - physical and capable of destroying tacklers. 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, Banks (or Hoying or Feidler) , Wright (Gonzo gets the axe or traded in camp provided all stay healthy and I get either Pennington or Redman in the draft)
RB: Bettis, Huntley, Fu, Amos
FB: Witman, Norman, Crosby (Come on Rookies, beat Witman off the roster)
WR: Edwards, Wards, Coles, Blackwell, Shaw, Johnson, (maybe Galloway)
TE: Bruener, Tuman, Cushing, Lyons (only 3 make the final roster)
OT: Gandy, Farris, Strzelczk, Pourdanish (weaker than I'd like, but can't fix everything)
G: Stai, Faneca, Duffy, Conrad, Brown (Either Brown or Conrad don't make 53 man roster)
C: Dawson, Riti
LS: Schenk (if Riti can LS, he could be gone)
DE: Roye, Deloach, Smith, Staat, Henry, Earnie Brown (Henry & Brown - probably cut or traded in camp)
NT: Hand, Warren (Steed is gone if I get all the D-linmen I have targeted)
ILB: Kirkland, Holmes, Fiala, Kelsay
OLB: Gildon, Porter, Vrable, Short (talk about competition)
CB: Washington, Scott, Poteat, Jackson, Townsend, Simmons S: Flowers, Shields, Davis, Oldham, Brown (Brown and Oldham are probably gone if I even bothered to re-sign them).