A Fair way to deal

Perhaps its just the front office trying to prove once again they didn't miss on a player when they were running the draft for the Detroit Lions.<br><br> But the Steelers signing of cornerback Terry Fair last week had a lot of people scratching their head.

The Steelers, however, had little, if anything, to lose by signing the 27-year-old Fair to a one-year deal.


The Steelers didn't give Fair a signing bonus, so if he doesn't make the team in 2004, he costs them nothing. If he does make the squad, he costs them a measly $450,000, which is next to nothing when you consider Fair was once a first-round draft choice.

The Steelers weren't high on Fair when he came to the NFL out of Tennessee. They considered him a first-round talent as a return man, but not as a coverage corner.

But before injuries sidetracked him, he proved to be a great return man and at least an average NFL starter.

Does he have anything left? We'll find out over the course of the next four or five months.

Remember, Tyrone Poole, another former first-round pick who bounced around from team to team because he was considered too small to play the game, is making significant contributions for the New England Patriots this season.

They claimed him off the scrap heap for the same next-to-nothing price the Steelers paid for Fair.

  • In addition to all of the former Lions, the other thing Steelers director of football operations Kevin Colbert has brought to the team is the one-year contract.

    Before Colbert joined the Steelers, the team never gave out one-year deals. Owner Dan Rooney didn't believe in them.

    But Colbert surprised him one day in his first season by signing Courtney Hawkins to a one-year deal.

    Rooney wasn't happy about it, but has seen the light to these kind of cap-friendly situations. There's nothing wrong with signing a player who is at the end of his career or has something to prove to a one-year contract and seeing how things work out.

    It certainly beats signing them to a multi-year deal and not having things work out. Those are salary cap killers.

  • Any hopes of drafting Phillip Rivers in the first round are now gone. The N.C. State quarterback had such a strong showing at the Senior Bowl he has likely surpassed J.P. Losman - who looked pedestrian on game day - and will be the third QB taken in April's draft.

    That means if the Steelers want Rivers, they'll have to take him with the 11th-overall pick.

  • You can bet that every fan site in the country whose team owns a top-15 picks has visions of their favorite team trading its first round pick to New England for the Patriots' two first rounders.

    Given the way they've handled free agency, picking through other people's scraps, the Pats will probably stay where they're at and still get a quality running back.

    There's no panic in that front office.

  • We all know the NFL's a copycat league, but even if the Patriots win the Super Bowl, there will be more teams attempting to replicate what the Panthers did offensively to get there.

    Why? What Carolina did is easier.

    It's much easier to find a running back to pound the ball than it is to find a quarterback like Tom Brady.

  • Could Corey Dillon or Duce Staley be next year's Stephen Davis? Maybe.

    Dillon is every bit the runner Davis is, maybe better. But he comes with a lot of baggage.

    Staley, meanwhile, has never been the runner Davis is, but is a tough between-the-tackles runner.

    But both are approaching 30 fast, so whatever team brings them in will have to look at them as one or two-year fixes.

    Will the Steelers be interested? Certainly. But the cost may drive both runners out of their price range.

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