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Tag:Ben Roethlisberger
Posted on: March 2, 2012 9:34 am
 

Roethlisberger, Haley quickly becoming BFFs

Haley, left and Roethlisberger, center, had a good phone conversation, which must have pleased Tomlin. (US PRESSWIRE)
By Josh Katzowitz

Because the drama for when new Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley would call quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for the first time was so heavy -- it took more than two weeks after Haley was hired! -- we felt compelled to follow up with the news of how well the phone meeting actually went.

You, of course, will be happy to know that it went really, really well*.

*Just pretend we’re having this conversation in a high school hallway, and we’re gossiping about the potential newest power couple in class. Then, the enthusiasm shown above makes a little more sense.

"It was a really good talk," Roethlisberger, who spoke with Haley for about 15 minutes, told the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. "Unfortunately, we can't talk football right now and that's one of the big things I wanted to talk about.

Pittsburgh's offensive upheaval
"So it was just me talking to him, about golf, his family, my family, him having been a ballboy here, just things like that. It was a good start and I felt it was a good step in the right direction.”

Initially, Roethlisberger blew off the call because he didn’t recognize the phone number that popped up on his ID. But after listening to the voice message, he immediately called back Haley to have a chat.

According to NFL rules, the two can’t actually talk football until mid-April, so instead, they began to build a relationship -- personal or otherwise.

“I think it will be a good working relationship -- and good friendship, who knows," Roethlisberger said.

Look, CBSSports.com’s Ryan Wilson had it right when he wrote that this so-called controversy wasn’t a big deal. But at the same time, if Roethlisberger felt disrespected by Haley’s decision not to make contact for a few weeks, it becomes a bigger story. Especially when you remember this quote from Roethlisberger after Haley was hired to replace Bruce Arians, a Roethlisberger favorite: “I've gotten a lot of calls and texts and emails from people around the league, both good and bad about him. Everybody has an opinion, as we all know, and they're letting me know what their interaction with him was -- good, bad and indifferent. I've heard a lot of things and I'm looking forward to meeting him and forming my own opinion.”

Now that they’ve finally met and talked, it seems like, so far, the Roethlisberger’s opinion is a positive one. And maybe this story, at least until training camp begins, can be left alone for a while.

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Posted on: March 1, 2012 11:09 am
Edited on: March 2, 2012 12:21 am
 

Report: Steelers will tender Wallace, not tag

Pittsburgh might decide to tender Wallace, a restricted free agent, instead of franchise tagging him. (Getty Images)
By Josh Katzowitz

A day after announcing that they would cut Hines Ward, the Steelers are leaving themselves open for the possibility of another receiver leaving the team.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Steelers will tender -- and not franchise tag -- restricted free agent Mike Wallace.

Wallace is coming off a 72-catch, 1,193-yard, eight-touchdown season in Pittsburgh, where he led the team in all categories. He’s also one of the NFL’s best deep receiver threats, averaging 18.7 yards per catch in his three-year career. At this point, he’s a star in the making.

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The Steelers apparently will place a first-round tender on Wallace, but considering Pittsburgh’s salary-cap problems -- how many times is Ben Roethlisberger going to have to restructure his contract, anyway? -- it wouldn’t be a surprise to see another squad swoop in and offer Wallace a deal the Steelers can’t match.

The franchise tag would cost the Steelers about $9.4 million for 2012, and there’s little chance for the math to work. Pittsburgh now has to hope Wallace isn’t seen by the rest of the league as worthy of a first-round pick.

The Steelers claimed during the combine that they want Wallace to finish his career in Pittsburgh, as general manager Kevin Colbert said, “We think he's only scratched the surface in what he can do. There's a lot left there that still can be developed and we're anxious to see it happen as a Steeler."

But if the Steelers do, in fact, decide to tender Wallace instead of tag him, the chances of that actually happening will grow slimmer.

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Posted on: February 23, 2012 5:09 pm
Edited on: February 23, 2012 9:19 pm
 

Report: Big Ben restructures contract for PIT

It's not ideal, but the Steelers can survive in a Wallace-less offense. (US PRESSWIRE)
By Josh Katzowitz

Since it now seems that the most important thing in the world for the Steelers to do this offseason is keep Mike Wallace in the organization -- clearly the franchise is being truthful when it says it wants the receiver to spend his entire career in Pittsburgh -- even Ben Roethlisberger is willing to sacrifice.

According to the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, Roethlisberger has restructured his contract so the Steelers can save about $8 million in cap space for 2012. Reporter Ed Bouchette writes that the cap space saved by the Roethlisberger restructuring will put the Steelers at about the cap limit of $120 million (the deadline is March 13).

Roethlisberger signed an eight-year, $102 million deal in 2008, and though he was originally supposed to make $11.6 million in 2012, Pittsburgh has taken $10.7 million of that and converted it into a signing bonus. As Mac’s Football Blog points out, the signing bonus will then add $2.675 million to the Steelers salary cap from 2013-2015. Roethlisberger, who now has restructured his deal for the second time in six months, will make at least $11.6 million per year in those three seasons.

Pittsburgh clearly wants to keep Wallace, a restricted free agent this offseason, for the long term, and in order to do that, the Steelers will have to sign him to a long, rich contract. Or they could franchise tag him, which would cost the team about $9.5 million for 2012. Even with Roethlisberger’s restructuring -- and he's not the only one, as the team has reworked the contracts of Lawrence Timmons, LaMarr Woodley and Ike Taylor -- reaching that mark probably will be tough.

And at this point, Wallace isn’t sure he’ll return to his team.

"(Pittsburgh is) where I would like to be, but we all know that it is a business and you have certain things you have to handle," Wallace told Sirius XM NFL radio on Wednesday. "So if I have to go elsewhere, you know Pittsburgh will always be in my heart, but I have to do what I have to do.

"Yeah, we are talking, but I don`t know how far they are going to get right now because of the situation. I know that they are working hard trying to take care of it, but I don`t know. We`ll see.”

Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert is a bit more optimistic, saying Thursdasy (via the AP), "I'm confident Mike wants to finish his career with the Steelers."

Most likely, the Steelers will place a first-round tender on Wallace, but a team that needs receiver help and that has plenty of space under its respective salary cap (and can let go of a first-round pick) might have a better chance of making an offer to Wallace the Steelers simply can’t match. Then, it won’t matter what Roethlisberger has sacrificed, because one of his top targets will be gone.

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Posted on: February 23, 2012 12:36 pm
 

Steelers want Wallace 'to finish his career here'

Pittsburgh would love to keep top wideout Wallace. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

INDIANAPOLIS -- Kevin Colbert, as GM of the Steelers, is in a precarious position. Pittsburgh has little-to-no cap room and one of their top offensive players, wide receiver Mike Wallace, is a restricted free agent who's been viewed as a candidate for offer sheets from various AFC rivals.

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Colbert emphasized on Thursday at the NFL combine that the Steelers, despite rumors to the contrary, are still very much open to using the franchise tag on Wallace, even though it would tack on another $9.4 million to their salary cap.

"We won't know until we know what we're dealing with as far as cap space. So we have to leave that option open, absolutely," Colbert said. "The thing I can say for sure about Mike is that we want Mike to finish his career with the Steelers and we're confident that Mike wants to finish his career here and play with a great quarterback like Ben Roethlisberger and have the receivers we have to compliment him.

"We think he's only scratched the surface in what he can do. There's a lot left there that still can be developed and we're anxious to see it happen as a Steeler."

The Steelers are being hurt by changes to restricted free agent (RFA) rules in the new CBA; teams only have to surrender a first-round pick in exchange for Wallace if the Steelers decline to match any offer from someone else.

"The compensation is what it is," Colbert said. "We have to live within the rules and make the best decisions we can."

Cap space is the bigger issue, though. Even if the Steelers can get under the cap through cutting players and restructuring contracts, they'd still need to wiggle out another $10 million in order to easily bring Wallace back in 2012.

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Posted on: February 22, 2012 7:56 pm
Edited on: February 22, 2012 7:57 pm
 

Mike Wallace understands that NFL 'is a business'

It's not ideal, but the Steelers can survive in a Wallace-less offense. (US PRESSWIRE)

By Ryan Wilson

If, in 12 days, the Steelers haven't extended wide receiver Mike Wallace's contract, there's the real possibility that he may have played his last game for Pittsburgh. The organization will tender Wallace, a restricted free agent, the highest offer but teams looking for proven deep threats might willingly give up a first-round pick for his rights.

Exacerbating matters: the Steelers are some $7 million over the salary cap and likely wouldn't be able to match any contract another team might offer Wallace. Pittsburgh understands this and so does the third-year wide receiver.

"(Pittsburgh is) where I would like to be, but we all know that it is a business and you have certain things you have to handle," Wallace said during an appearance on SiriusXM Wednesday afternoon (via the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review). "So if I have to go elsewhere, you know Pittsburgh will always be in my heart, but I have to do what I have to do. ...

"Yeah, we are talking, but I don`t know how far they are going to get right now because of the situation," he said, referring to the team's cap situation. "I know that they are working hard trying to take care of it, but I don`t know. We`ll see."

(We talked about Wallace's future -- among other things -- on the most recent Pick-6 Podcast.)


We wrote Monday about the doomsday scenario that has the Steelers losing Wallace and, well, it's not the end of the world some fans and media portray it to be. (We'll include part of it below since we buried it in a post about Big Ben and Haley, western Pennsylvania's newest BFFs.)

Wallace has put up some mind-blowing numbers during his three-year career, and you can even blame his second-half-of-2011 slump on Roethlisberger's health and defenses double- and triple-teaming him. But Pittsburgh also has Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders. We think Brown will eventually be better than Wallace, if he's not already. And Sanders has the ability to become a solid No. 2 option.

The Steelers would also have an additional first-rounder, most likely near the bottom of the round. If, in their draft evaluations, they find a handful of players that they think would help them immediately (and when we say "players," we really mean "offensive linemen"), perhaps it's a tradeoff worth considering. Wallace is worth more than a late first-round selection but there are extenuating circumstances, chiefly the salary-cap purgatory the organization currently finds itself.

In addition to Brown and Sanders, Pittsburgh would need to re-sign someone like Jerricho Cotchery, or hope that Hines Ward has anything left for another season. (Worth mentioning: Ward had a severely sprained ankle early in the season and that may have hampered his production down the stretch.)

Then there is tight end Heath Miller, recently underutilized because of Pittsburgh's suspect pass-blocking. Haley announced at his introductory press conference that he was a huge Miller fan, and Miller could become another downfield option in the Steelers' passing game should they lose Wallace.

Finally, Pittsburgh has been to three Super Bowls since 2005, winning two. The group of pass catchers in 2005 included Ward, Cedrick Wilson and Antwaan Randle El. In 2009, it was Ward, Santonio Holmes, and Nate Washington. The takeaway: given the Steelers' financial predicament, keeping Wallace is more a luxury than a necessity.

The organization has less two weeks to sort this out. Whether that's enough time to get under the cap and extend Wallace is an entirely different issue. But Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert has an impressive track record not only when it comes to identifying talent but knowing when to let them walk. We'll know shortly where Colbert stands on Wallace.

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Posted on: February 21, 2012 8:25 pm
 

Pick-6 Podcast: Ranking the free-agent QBs

Will Peyton end up in the Valley of the Sun?(CBSSports.com illustration)

By Will Brinson & Ryan Wilson

The old saying goes something like this: yes, it's officially the NFL offseason but there really is no offseason. The Giants won the Super Bowl a few weeks ago but teams can already franchise would-be free agents, the combine begins this week and free agency the week after.

There are plenty of storylines, and Peyton Manning's future is among the biggest. On the latest Pick-6 Podcast, we talk whether the Arizona Cardinals make the most sense for Manning (he does look dashing in red), and where the other free-agent quarterbacks (Matt Flynn, Kyle Orton, Jason Campbell, Chad Henne) might end up this spring.

The conversation then turns to Big Ben and Todd Haley, and a possible theory for why the Steelers could let Mike Wallace leave as a restricted free agent.

(Did we mention that you should subscribe to the podcast via iTunes? And if you can't listen to the podcast below, download it here. And if you'd like to keep working while listening in your browser, pop that puppy out in a new tab here.)


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Posted on: February 21, 2012 6:58 pm
 

Report: Roethlisberger, Haley finally meet

Now that Big Ben and Haley are BFFs, the team has to decide Wallace's future in Pittsburgh. (Getty Images/US PRESSWIRE)

By Ryan Wilson

Some sad news for those fans and media looking for a story where there wasn't one: after a couple weeks on the job, new Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley finally had a face-to-face with franchise quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Ed Bouchette tweeted the details late Tuesday afternoon:

EdBouchette
News many have waited for: Ben & Steelers new OC Todd Haley finally met, sat down and talked.
2/21/12 5:46 PM

So what does this mean? Not much, really. Haley's arrival in Pittsburgh furrowed some brows but team president Art Rooney II said last week that the hire was soley that of head coach Mike Tomlin. Put differently: Rooney hadn't suddenly morphed into a meddlesome owner, ordering Haley's hire, even if Rooney wasn't jazzed by the prospects of Bruce Arians, Haley's predecessor, keeping his job.

There's still the issue if Haley and Big Ben can co-exist. Roethlisberger has stated previously that he's not a huge fan of yelling, we still think it won't affect his on-field performance. In fact, CBSSports.com's Will Brinson thinks the Steelers' Pro Bowl quarterback could have his best season yet in 2012. (We talked about it on the most recent Pick-6 Podcast.)


So now, with that all behind us, the second-biggest offseason storyline facing the Steelers is Mike Wallace's immediate future with the team.

CBSSports.com's Pat Kirwan wrote about it over the weekend: Pittsburgh is well over the cap and even if they wanted to franchise Wallace (they don't), their precarious salary-cap situation won't allow it. Which means that Wallace, a restricted free agent and one of the league's best young wide receivers, could be had by a wideout-needy team for a first-round pick should the Steelers choose not to match any contract offer Wallace would receive.

Before last summer's new CBA, restricted free agents tendered at the highest level would bring a first- and third-rounder should they sign elsewhere. Now it's only a first-rounder, which means that the Patriots, a club desperate for a deep threat that also has two first-round picks, would be a logical landing spot.

Ideally, the Steelers would find a way to keep Wallace, but that will require some nifty salary-cap maneuvering in the coming weeks; free agency starts March 5. But here's the other side of that argument should they lose him:

Wallace has put up some mind-blowing numbers during his three-year career, and you can even blame his second-half-of-2011 slump on Roethlisberger's health and defenses double- and triple-teaming him. But Pittsburgh also has Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders. In our opinion, Brown will be better than Wallace, if he's not already. And Sanders has the ability to become a solid No. 2 option.

The Steelers would also have an additional first-rounder, most likely near the bottom of the round. If, in their draft evaluations, they find a handful of players that they think would help them immediately (and when we say "players," we really mean "offensive linemen"), perhaps it's a tradeoff worth considering. Wallace is worth more than a late first-round selection but there are extenuating circumstances, chiefly the salary-cap purgatory the organization currently finds itself.

In addition to Brown and Sanders, Pittsburgh would need to re-sign someone like Jerricho Cotchery, or hope that Hines Ward has anything left for another season. (Worth mentioning: Ward had a severely sprained ankle early in the season and that may have hampered his production down the stretch.)

Then there is tight end Heath Miller, recently underutilized because of Pittsburgh's suspect pass-blocking. Haley announced at his introductory press conference that he was a huge Miller fan, and Miller could become another downfield option in the Steelers' passing game should they lose Wallace.

The organization has nearly two weeks to sort this out. Whether that's enough time to get under the salary cap (they're currently about $7-$8 million over) and extend Wallace is an entirely different issue. But Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert has an impressive track record not only when it comes to identifying talent but knowing when to let them walk. We'll know shortly where Colbert stands on Wallace.

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Posted on: February 20, 2012 7:36 pm
 

Roethlisberger, Haley still haven't talked

Haley, left, still hasn't called Roethlisberger, center, despite being hired by Tomlin two weeks ago. (US PRESSWIRE)
By Josh Katzowitz

Todd Haley wasn’t exactly known as a player-friendly coach when he was at the helm of the Chiefs, and in his new job as the Steelers offensive coordinator, it appears he isn’t trying very hard to be Ben Roethlisberger’s best friend.

Or, you know, trying to talk to him at all.

That’s what Roethlisberger revealed to the Pittsburgh Tribune Review, saying, “He still hasn’t called yet.”

The admission continues what has become a strange offseason for the Steelers, with team president Art Rooney II seemingly overruling coach Mike Tomlin and letting offensive coordinator Bruce Arians “retire.” Then, with the hiring of Haley, it’s been unclear who actually wanted him (there was speculation that Tomlin didn’t want Haley as much as Rooney did, though Rooney later came out and said Tomlin was the one who makes the assistant coaches decisions).

Pittsburgh's offensive upheaval
With the loss of Arians, Roethlisberger made it clear he wasn’t happy with that decision, and when Haley was announced as the new hire, he said, “I've gotten a lot of calls and texts and emails from people around the league, both good and bad about him. Everybody has an opinion, as we all know, and they're letting me know what their interaction with him was -- good, bad and indifferent. I've heard a lot of things and I'm looking forward to meeting him and forming my own opinion."

Roethlisberger probably wouldn’t have guessed that two weeks later, he still would be looking forward to meeting him (there’s a pretty good chance by this point, though, that Roethlisberger already has formed an opinion).

The Trib Review went on to write that Roethlisberger “definitely came across and had the tone that he has no intention of making the first move.” And really, why should he? Haley is the new guy, and Roethlisberger is the quarterback who’s won two Super Bowls. Roethlisberger is a top-10 quarterback, and Haley just got fired from Kansas City.

Seems like Haley would want to meet the guy who is responsible for leading the offense. Of course, we probably should have expected his from Haley.

"It doesn't matter where you stand on the totem pole," Kurt Warner, who played for Haley with the Cardinals, said earlier this month. "If he sees something you can do better, he lets you know about it. That was a reason for our success."

"He just wants you to do the right thing. Instead of getting offended, maybe you have to look at yourself and say, 'OK, that's a legitimate concern.' That's the way you get good. That's how you stay great. He will be good for Ben, not that Ben needs a lot of help.”

Of course, the only way for Haley to possibly help Roethlisberger would be to meet him. We’ll have to wait and see how long it takes for that to happen.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com