PITTSBURGH -- Mike Tomlin carries the ball from May to January, but now it's Kevin Colbert's turn to step to the microphone.
The general manager of the Pittsburgh Steelers called an informal press conference of local beat writers Tuesday and fielded questions pertaining to his time of the year: the Combine, draft, free agency and the pulling together of a pro football roster in the offseason. Following were the highlights:
* On the team's status in regard to the salary cap:
"The cap situation's actually -- relative to other years -- it’s pretty good. We don’t have to make a lot of drastic changes to be in compliance. There will be some give and take along the way to get in compliance by the start of the league year, but nothing drastic."
* On the status of soon-to-be 38-year-old linebacker James Harrison:
"We're anticipating he wants to continue playing and I wouldn’t see any reason we wouldn’t want to have James here."
* On his view of soon-to-be free-agent tackle Kelvin Beachum:
"We’ll see. We’ll see where that market goes."
* On a secondary with five potential free agents:
"We’ll definitely entertain keeping William Gay and Antwon Blake and Will Allen. We haven’t written off any of those guys, but we want to be able to add to it as well. Like I said, we’ve already taken that step with Senquez (Golson). ... When we traded for (fourth free agent) Brandon Boykin, we knew that Senquez was done for the year."
* The Steelers are also expected to make a bid for the fifth free agent in the secondary, Robert Golden. But what about Boykin?
"We certainly haven’t closed that door. Brandon, he held up in a difficult situation because he didn’t get the playing time that he anticipated or we anticipated when we made the trade. ... After we had traded for Brandon, Ross (Cockrell) surpassed what Brandon was able to do for us, especially being an outside corner, whereas Brandon was more of an inside corner. ... He’ll definitely still be an option for us."
* What's the strength of this draft?
"It looks like it's more of a defensive draft. The secondary looks to be a deep position, both at safety and corner at this point."
* Will the Steelers spend much in free agency when the fiscal new year begins on March 15?
"I think we’ll be the same as we’ve always been. Is there a player that can help us on the outside that we can afford to add? And are we better? Right now, we don’t have that freedom, so if we add a lot from the outside we would have to take a lot away from the inside, which I don’t think is our plan. I think we want to stay the course as best we can with as many of our own guys."
* Has there been a change in the draft evaluation process as Keith Butler enters his second season as defensive coordinator?
"The evaluation is exactly the same. How we select guys may be a little bit different but nothing significant."
* How you select guys?
"It’s the change schematically -- not with us but the game itself. ... I think we were at 75 percent in sub-package defense last year. Those guys are seeing the field more than your base-package guys. ... Maybe a kid that we wouldn’t look at in the past as a 4-3 end, now we can because he’ll be a sub-package rusher, which is on the field three-quarters of the time."
* On 3-4 end Jarvis Jones:
"Jarvis was better to a certain extent. You would still like to see more sack production from him."
"We feel very fortunate that we have two kickers to work with. Hopefully Shaun gets himself healthy and we should have a great, competitive situation at kicker this summer."
Colbert, of course, will attend the Combine in Indianapolis on Feb. 23. The Steelers have draft picks in rounds 1-4, no picks in rounds 5-6, and two picks in the seventh round. Colbert also expects a compensatory pick to be awarded to the team for last year's free-agent losses. Those versed in the complex equation of compensatory picks believe it will be seventh-round pick.
(To read the complete transcript of the interview, click here.)