Steelers: LB Haggans Signs Long Term

The Steelers moved one step closer toward showing linebacker Jason Gildon the door Friday as they re-signed unrestricted free agent linebacker Clark Haggans to a four-year deal.

Though agent Jeff Sperbeck would not reveal the size of Haggans' new deal, he did say that Haggans was being paid "starter's money" and would go into training camp this year competing with Alonzo Jackson for the team's starting outside linebacker position.

"In the end, he took a little less money than was being offered elsewhere to stay where he was comfortable," Sperbeck said, noting Haggans had received offers from the Jets and Lions.

Gildon has been a starter at outside linebacker since 1996, but saw his production fall to just six sacks in 2003, three of which came in one game. For a player scheduled to earn $3.65 million in 2004, that's not enough production. Gildon will now likely be cut after June 1, when the remaining portion of his $3.9 million signing bonus can be split over this year's salary cap and next year's.

The 27-year-old Haggans was the Steelers special teams captain in 2003 and also started the first two games of the season when Joey Porter was out because of a gunshot wound.

Haggans has 7.5 career sacks, including a career-best 6.5 in 2002 when he played extensively as the team's rush end in the dime defense.

With Haggans signed, the Steelers will now turn their attention to acquiring a cornerback and figuring out what to do in regards to defensive end Rodney Bailey.

Bailey, a restricted free agent, has signed an offer sheet with the New England Patriots for one-year at $1.3 million. That includes a $650,000 signing bonus.

The Steelers have one week to match the offer or allow Bailey to sign with the Patriots. They would receive a sixth-round draft choice as compensation.

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