Colbert On ...

It's been a newsy couple of weeks for the Steelers so GM Kevin Colbert was a wanted man at the NFL Combine. He talked about Hampton and Mendenhall staying, Wallace most likely staying, and Ward possibly staying, among many other topics.

INDIANAPOLIS – Kevin Colbert was a wanted man Wednesday at the NFL Combine.

The Steelers' general manager spent at least a full hour answering the many questions local and national reporters had for him during what's been a newsy couple of weeks for the team. Following are the news bulletins and how Colbert addressed them:

* Mike Wallace, the NFL's active career yards-per-catch leader, will become a restricted free agent on March 17 unless the Steelers place the franchise tag on him (deadline March 5). If a team makes an offer to Wallace that the Steelers don't or can't match, they'll receive a first-round pick as compensation. If franchised and signed by another team, the Steelers would receive two first-round picks as compensation. The cost of the added security is approximately $7 million.

Colbert was uncomfortable discussing the situation because the league has yet to announce the total cap number and the precise tender amounts.

"There's always a franchise [tag] possibility, but not knowing what our cap total is I really can't say," Colbert said. "We're going to do everything we can to make sure Mike Wallace remains a Pittsburgh Steeler. I think that's Mike's belief as well. Usually when you have two parties that share the same goal, it's usually easier to achieve the goal."

Why is Colbert so confident about keeping Wallace?

"The confidence comes because we have the ultimate decision," he said. "It's not like an unrestricted free agent who can shop and we don't have the right to match."

Could the team pare enough salary from its payroll to afford the franchise tag?

"Is it likely? No," Colbert said. "Is it still a possibility? Yes, so I can't rule it out. It would take a lot of work to be able to do it. But again, not knowing what I'm dealing with, I can't answer you concretely."

* The Steelers could save approximately $8.2 million by cutting two players – Casey Hampton and Rashard Mendenhall -- coming off ACL injuries. Colbert has said that Mendenhall, in the final year of his contract, will likely open the season on the PUP list and therefore his contract would count under the cap, even if he's later placed on injured reserve.

"We're not expecting him to be on IR for the year," Colbert said. "What I had said a few weeks back was an ACL (full recovery) could take a year. I don't think they're 100 percent. That doesn't mean you can't play. A lot of guys play at 70, 80 percent. So after six weeks he gets three weeks to practice. After those three weeks you have to make a decision as to whether you activate him or put him on reserve for the season. We anticipate he will be active at some point.

"With Hamp, it's a different position. You don't have to worry about speed. You don't have to worry about the quick change of direction when you're talking about the offensive and defensive linemen. The one edge Casey will have on anybody is he's been through this (ACL rehab) twice and he knows what to expect and he knows how he's going to feel at a certain point when he feels he's healthy."

Does Colbert expect Hampton to remain with the team this year?

"Yes," he said.

* The Steelers can save close to $3.4 million by cutting Hines Ward.

"Again, we don't know what we're dealing with from a cap standpoint," Colbert said. "We don't know, so we have to look at multiple scenarios as to what we can and what we can't do, and what we're going to have to do, because we don't know. I can honestly say there still can be more restructurings and more terminations and that's where we have to leave it."

Colbert said that Ward's inability to play special teams "won't be a deal-breaker." He also said that while Ward's ability to mentor the young receivers is a plus, "ultimately that player has to be able to help you win."

* New offensive coordinator Todd Haley can either assimilate his plans into the talent the Steelers already possess, or the team can find new talent to fit what Haley wants to do.

"I think it will be a combination," Colbert said, "like Mike (Tomlin) did when he came in and we were a 34 (defensive) team. He looked at what we had, what we did, and how we did it, and he decided that he wanted to add his personal touches, but for the most part not change. I think (Haley) will learn what we have, we'll learn what he's kind of thinking about or looking for in a player, and we'll try to keep progressing."

Colbert also said he would like to keep both of his elder free-agent back-up quarterbacks, that he has no concerns about the long-term health of Maurkice Pouncey's left ankle, that guard is a deep position in the draft and that tight end is shallow position, and that fans could rule out the Steelers drafting a quarterback or punter in the first round.

But what about placekicker?

"You never know," he joked. "Kickers work out tomorrow."

(Here's the full transcript of Kevin Colbert's post-podium interviews. His interview from the podium in front of the TV cameras is also posted on the message board.)

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