Stillers Sign Bettis, but Otherwise Make Some Progress
As you've seen, the Stillers signed Doughboy Bettis to a 6-year, $30M contract. Obviously, the hefty Doughboy will never see the end of this contract, but the Stillers are probably hoping for 3 good years. The structuring of the contract was good in terms of cap hit, so the FO should be lauded for a rare but shrewd job.
Stunningly enough, the team basically took a page from my Offseason Outlook, and sent Henry & Witmann packing, and did not even tender an offer to RFA Jeremy Faat. I was worried that all three would be lavished and brought back, but Colbert correctly gave them the heave-ho. And Mark Bruener, who is among the biggest cap killers in ALL of pro football, agreed to stop stealing so much money from the team, and re-negotiated his contract to in order to lower the cap hit.
What's even more refreshing is that the Pgh. media is reporting that Tub Kirkland may be the next man on the chopping block. Again, this was another of my recommendations in the Offseason Outlook, so I'd be as pleased as punch if the Tub were cut and brought back for significantly less dollars. If Kirk's cap hit is reduced, it will allow the team to go after a stud DE, something this defense is in desperate need of.
Of course, had the Stillers low-balled Bettis, or allowed The Doughboy to depart, they'd have loads of money to pursue a stud DE right now.
I'd annotated this in the Offseason Outlook --- signing Bettis to a fatty contract was a totally needless venture that does nothig to improve this team's chances of making the playoffs.
First off, they've missed the playoffs the past 3 seasons, WITH Doughboy Bettis toting the ball. In that time span, the passing game stunk and the running game was oftentimes sporadic and ineffective.
2nd, RB is THE STRONGEST position the Stillers have on their depth chart. Aside from Denver, which has Davis, Gary, and Anderson (and one of them will surely move in this offseason), the RB depth of Hunt, Fu, and Amoz has no equal around the NFL.
3rd, the Stillers had the 29th ranked passing offense and Cowher, disgruntled by that fact, fired Gaypride. But, when we line up on 1st and 2nd downs in the I-formation, with Doughboy Bettis & Kreider, and Bruener at TE, exactly how does Little Billy think his passing offense is going to improve ?? Sure, on 3rd downs and rare 1st/2nd downs, Hunt, Fu, or Amoz comes in at RB�..but we may as well have Kordell hold a megaphone and blare out, "ATTENTION!! Red alert!! Please pay attention to the new RB we have brought into the game! We are either going to run a screen pass, a shovel pass, a shotgun-draw, or some other clever play that you have all seen on film at least 37 times! Please, do not say that you were not warned ahead of time!" Your most effective passing in today's NFL is done on 1st down, when the opposing defense it OUT of the dime defense and is in a bit of a guessing state-of-mind as to whether the offense will pass or run. With Doughboy Bettis, the slowest starting RB in the NFL, and Bruener, the slowest starting TE in the NFL, there is no guesswork for the defense to do. They simply stack 8 men at the line of scrimmage, and don't mind in the least if the ball is thrown to either of these lumbering clods. If Bettis were thinner, or more of a multi-purpose back, I could live with him staying. Problem is, he's neither thin, nor multi-purpose. He weighs at least 275, and is totally ineffective running wide and not even mediocre in the passing game.
4th, I reviewed the stats this past season of what Bettis did against the Ravens & Titans. Why? Not only are these 2 teams the class of the AFC, but they also happen to reside in our division, so if we have any chance of making the playoffs, we basically need to beat out at least one of these clubs for either the division title or a wild card spot. Here's what Doughboy Bettis did against these two teams in '00:
Week 1, vs. Ravens: 9 carries, 8 yards.
Week 3, vs. Tenn: 19 carries, 77 yards.
Week 8, @ Balt: 18 carries, 65 yards.
Week 8, @ Tenn: 13 carries, 42 yards.
This comes out to 3.2 yards a crack. That ain't gonna cut it if you want to beat either of these teams with a Neanderthal, smashmouth attack. The local media gushes and fawns over Bettis, but his '00 stats were built by feasting on a host of creampuff defenses, to include Diego, Wash, Cleve (twice), Cinci (twice), and Jax (twice). Facing the 2 best teams in the division, all the lumbering Doughboy could provide was 3.2 yards per crack, and for that, the Stillers think they'll be an all-around better football team having Doughboy Bettis tote the ball the next couple of years against those same Ravens and Titans. It should be noted that the Stillers lost 3 of 4 games against these two key foes, and the game they did win, they won by scoring a whopping 9 points.
It comes down to opportunity cost. Do you want to see the 275-pound Doughboy Bettis at RB, and Chris Combs or Chris Sullivan starting at DE & getting mauled by opposing tackles and allowing QBs 8 seconds to stand in the pocket ?? Or do you want to see a platoon of Rick Huntley and Fu at RB, and a Marcellus Wiley at DE??
What will apparently end up happening, is Huntley being traded for a 4th round pick sometime around the draft. He's worth more than that, but with teams having the Stillers over a barrel, they'll end up getting off easy and dishing out only a 4th rounder.
Signing Bettis to the fatty contract was a gross mistake, as was totally blowing off Dirt Dawson, but credit Colbert and the FO for taking the necessary steps that HAD to be taken (ie, cutting Witman, Henry, and Staat) to make this team competitive in the age of capanomics. More work is needed, to include some aggressive work in the free agent market and a solid draft, but this was a decent start.