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Colbert's State of Steelers Address

General Manager Kevin Colbert in a wide-ranging interview regarding the Pittsburgh Steelers.

PITTSBURGH -- That month of discontent following the Pittsburgh Steelers' loss in the AFC Championship Game?

Poof. 

All gone.

General Manager Kevin Colbert waved his magic wand Thursday and said all's well with the perceived discord that involved star players Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and Le'Veon Bell.

The defense that was torched by Tom Brady? 

Well, that remains a work in progress and Colbert said he'll address it in the upcoming player procurement period, either in free agency or the draft.

But, back to the triplets.

Roethlisberger, who was contemplating retirement a few days after the loss in New England, isn't a worry to Colbert, who said "I am hopeful and confident that Ben will be back."

The bigger question might be Roethlisberger's backup. Landry Jones is a free agent, and Colbert said "We would love to have Landry be able to stay in the mix. But right now we have two quarterbacks under contract, so will we add a young one in some form or fashion, absolutely. When? It’s hard to say. 

"Again, we have to balance that (draft) class against other positions. But sooner or later, we will have to address that. Ideally, the organizations that have been successful through eras have been ones that had the guy in place. San Francisco went from Joe Montana to Steve Young. Green Bay went from Brett Favre to Aaron Rodgers. So, if you want to be a continuously successful organization, you should have the successive quarterback planning in place."

Colbert also said the team is currently in negotiations to extend the contract of Roethlisberger's No. 1 target, Brown, who's about to enter the final year of his current contract.

"We told Antonio last year that his (talks) would be accelerated, and he would be made the priority, and that’s where he is," Colbert said.

Brown, of course, was in hot water with Mike Tomlin following the playoff win in Kansas City, when Brown streamed the coach's post-game speech on Facebook. But, apparently, all is forgiven.

"I can say, unequivocally, that we want Antonio to retire as a Steeler, just like we want Le’Veon to retire as a Steeler," Colbert said.

Bell ended the season with a sports hernia injury that knocked him out of the AFCCG in the first half. He's contemplating surgery, but, as Colbert explained, "You don't want to do a surgery if it's not a unanimous (decision). ... These types of things sometimes are better off just healing on their own."

It's a 6-8 week recovery process, and by that time Bell could be the proud owner of a brand new mega-contract. 

Bell could enter the free agent market on March 9, but the Steelers are expected to slap the franchise tag on him. That would put Bell under contract for one year at $12.4 million. The Steelers could negate it with a multi-year deal by July 15, and cap experts believe any such contract would average close to that same $12 million per season. 

"Even if we were to use the tag on Le’Veon, we would certainly want to do something long-term and have Le’Veon be a Steeler for life," Colbert said, adding that, "We have no reservations about Le’Veon, not his durability or his ability. He’s grown, I think, tremendously off the field. And I think, I hope, he continues to grow in those areas. But there’s no hesitation to having him be with us, hopefully, for his whole career."

As for a secondary that allowed Brady 384 passing yards, three touchdown passes and a QB rating of 127.5 in the AFCCG, Colbert expects to make additions.

"We know we have three guys coming back at cornerback," he said. "The rest of the guys have potential or are unproven. So can we add? Absolutely we can add in that area. That will be something we surely will be looking at, along with other positions."

One of those returning cornerbacks is 2015 second-round draft pick Senquez Golson, who missed his rookie season with a shoulder injury and last season with a Lis franc foot injury.

"Anytime a defensive back, wide receiver or a skill guy gets a foot injury, you’re a little concerned," Colbert said. "Does he go from a 4.4 to a 4.45, or a 4.5? We won’t know that until we see him out there, so I’m a little more apprehensive."

Colbert touched on other issues as well.

* On tight end Ladarius Green, who missed the last five games with a concussion:

"We don’t play until August, so he’s got time to heal properly. ... He’s excited about being able to come back and being able to play."

* On the comforts of being an estimated $30-35 million under the projected salary cap:

"Yeah. I think we’re in a different world. ... We don’t have to make any moves to get in compliance with the cap."

* On re-signing potential free agent Lawrence Timmons:

"Would we love to have him stay? Absolutely. Does it all fit? I think we can make it fit. At what cost? He has to see what his market is. ... We have nothing against him finding out but let’s stay in touch as we go through the process. I would love to see him finish his career here. I think he would, too."

* On the upcoming draft (NFL Combine begins March 1):

"Running backs are a pretty good group. Wide receivers, always great numbers. ... Offensive interior linemen, not great depth. Offensive tackles aren’t as good as they have been. The secondary, again, because of spread offenses, you get a lot of spread defenses, a lot of cornerbacks and safeties in this group. Outside linebackers, we think there is a good group. ... Inside linebackers, not real deep. Defensive line is not as deep as it was last year."

(To read the complete transcript of the Kevin Colbert press conference, click here to go to our South Side message board.)


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