Stillers Moving Like Pond Water in Dealings with Dawson (Feb. 14th)
Today's Post Gazette revealed that Dermontti Dawson had an MRI Monday at the UPMC Sports Performance Complex on the South Side, and it showed no damage to the hamstring. But, in true Stiller fashion, the team management has done nothing to initiate contract talks with Dawson.
"We've gone a long way to be able to satisfy any concerns they may have," Cindrich said to the PG. According to the PG, "The rest, he said, is up to the Steelers. He said he would be willing to listen to alternatives to the $1 million roster bonus, but no one from the Steelers has called him."
The PG article continued: "No one from the Steelers has talked to Cindrich about the $1 million roster bonus they must pay to Dawson soon. The date, originally Feb. 22, has been moved back to March 9 by agreement of the NFL Management Council and NFL Players Association. The bonus due date had been scheduled one week after free agency was to begin, but that changed when the NFL moved free agency back to March 2."
This is so typical from a team that views alacrity and initiative with the same disdain as a nun overseeing conduct in the food line of a gradeschool cafeteria.
First off, unlike the position of RB (for example) the Stillers are not dealing from a position of strength. Poor planning has left them totally devoid of having a starting center waiting in the wings, and any veteran the team wants to sign will more than likely be looking for a 7-figure per year, multi-year contract.
Secondly, Dawson has done his duty to resolve this dilemma by evidently undergoing this battery of tests, MRI, etc., on his leg & hamstring. This was, in my mind, mandatory before Dawson could be considered fit for continued employment. If UPMC's testing isn't considered reliable by the Stillers, then they should question why they partnered with UPMC in the South Side joint venture in the first place.
Third, and no less important -- this is Dermontti Dawson we're talking about here. This is a surefire, first ballot Hall of Famer who also has impeccable integrity, professionalism, and commitment. This isn't a Troy Edwards, walking in with 12 gold chains around his neck and blathering on about "me, me, and me", with dialogue befitting a 14-year old back in the 'hood. This is Dirt Dawson, who should be respected enough that he be invited to sit down across the table from the front office, and given the opportunity to express his outlook and feelings on playing with the Stillers for one more season. Dawson needs no more money, nor does he need to do anything more to cement his place as one of the greatest centers in NFL history. A sit-down with Dawson should reveal exactly how optimistic he feels and exactly what kind of fire is burning in his belly. Assuming the feedback is positive from Dirt, final numbers can then be wrangled with Cindrich and a win-win, fairly cap-friendly deal can be hammered out and inked within a day or two.
Can this be accomplished? Sure. But remember, this is the Stillers we're talking about -- the same team that literally ran off Mike Webster, Rod Woodson, Greg Lloyd, Carnell Lake, and other long-time luminaries.
Maybe there is hope for the Stiller front office, however. According to the PG, "The Steelers have hired Omar Khan from the New Orleans Saints to replace Dan Ferens as their chief negotiator. Ferens left the Steelers a year ago to join International Management Group. Club officials interviewed candidates to replace him but left the job vacant and spread negotiations around to a handful of people, including scouts. Khan, 24, worked in the Saints' front office with salary cap issues and contracts. Last year, he worked as a special assistant to N.O. Coach Jim Haslett."
Great. Last offseason, the daunting task of going head-to-head with some of the best, most experienced agents in all of sports fell in the hands of various staffers from among the Stiller front office, to include scouts. Yes, indeed, those scouts, who spend all their time scouring tape and watching games in-person, are reaaallly prepared to handle multi-million dollar negotiations. Now, some 24-year old chogie boy/gopher boy, still wet behind the ears, is going to out-negotiate and out-smart the likes of Ralph Cindrich and Lamar Smith (Bettis' agent). Sure. Another brilliant ploy by Rooney and company�
The Still Mill