Haggans a Great Save

Goals and visions and afterthoughts for the 21st century. Oh, and insignificant free-agent meanderings, too: <br><br>* We may snicker not at the Steelers re-signing of Clark Haggans yesterday but at the fact he's their most significant signing so far. But we can also breathe a sigh of relief that Carlos Emmons isn't the emergency fall-back option for the necessary purging of Jason Gildon from the roster.

* Emmons was hailed as the defensive MVP of the Philadelphia Eagles last season. Who said this? His coordinator, of course, who just like every other coach is as pleased as a pumpkin when a player consistently listens to him and executes their assignment. What other explanation can there be? Emmons doesn't make plays.

* Haggans, who was given a $3 million bonus in a 4-year, $10.2 million deal, has three sacks in four career starts. Overall, he has 7.5 sacks in a career in which he hasn't been given much of a chance behind the Gildon. Emmons, on the other hand, your Eagles MVP, had exactly 0 sacks in 15 starts last season. That's according to ESPN.com. CBS Sportsline, though, gives Emmons credit for 1 sack.

* The point is that Emmons doesn't make plays, and the 31-year-old was scheduled to visit with pins still in his leg from a broken fibula sustained late last season. Sounds like Haggans is the emergency signing of the off-season so far, particularly since the Steelers have virtually given up on last year's second-round pick Alonzo Jackson. At least that's the word filtering down to the media room.

* Steelers fans have to be encouraged by Monday's scheduled visit of running back Duce Staley. Here's a back who received absolutely zero respect from Eagles management, but was a fan favorite -- for good reason -- in Philadelphia. He'd be a sublime signing.

* The AP reported that "The New York Giants took a major step toward solving their defensive woes Friday night, signing Carlos Emmons and Fred Robbins," who was "an outstanding run stopper for Minnesota." I didn't know those last five words were allowed in the same sentence. In fact, the entire story should be re-written.

* Sure it's a bit depressing that on the same day the Baltimore Ravens signed Terrell Owens the Steelers re-signed Chris Doering, but doesn't it lift your spirits that Owens already wants out of Baltimore?

* If Owens has to stay with the Ravens, it could be viewed as good news for the Steelers, who probably won't look at it that way. But my gut tells me it would force the Steelers to re-think their philosophy. Instead of believing they're a few bricks shy of the divisional load, they should be forced to think Big Picture. Instead of reaching for need in the first round, they should take the best overall building block, whether it be a quarterback, running back, wide receiver or defensive lineman, all of which figure to present the Steelers with value at pick No. 11.

* Speaking of cornerbacks, the limited field of available free agents was narrowed even further Friday when Fred Thomas re-signed with New Orleans, Fernando Bryant signed with Detroit, Reggie Howard signed with Miami, Antoine Winfield signed with Minnesota, Ahmed Plummer re-signed with San Francisco and Jason Webster signed with Atlanta. It looks like Chad Scott's back with that Wolverine smirk on his face again.

* When ordinary players such as the aforementioned begin making such big money, perhaps it is time to reach for a cornerback in the first round. Dunta Robinson of South Carolina ran a 4.34 40 at the combine and the Steelers liked him before that. DeAngelo Hall has to be considered at pick No. 11, too. As for Chris Gamble of Ohio State, whom Buckeyes fans consider to be vastly overrated, he's said to be headed to the Houston Texans at pick No. 10. That's the word floating around Steelers HQ anyway.

* Speaking of which, the Steelers also like my man Vernon Carey, a right tackle from the Miami Hurricanes who earned a bad rep after being forced to move to guard last season and who played all year on a bum ankle. He's certainly a trade-down target.

* I'm stealing this idea from another writer -- Trade Tommy Maddox, who's valuable in a deal because of his low cap number, to someone for a high second-round pick and then start Charlie Batch at quarterback. That leaves an opening for someone such as Phil Rivers and would give him a year to grasp the offense. It shouldn't be difficult for Rivers, since he's considered a Mensa football scholar in the Brent Alexander mold.

* After the Steelers lost out in the bidding for outside linebacker Marcus Washington, it was compared by writer to the loss the previous year of Dexter Jackson. I don't see it that way. I thought Jackson would've been a huge mistake and that the Arizona Cardinals spared the Steelers money and embarrassment. That thought was supported by Jackson's weak run support last season. But Washington, on the other hand, is going to be a quality player, or at least he would've been in the Steelers' 3-4. With the Redskins, he'll be swallowed up by LaVar Arrington and company in what has the potential to become the NFL's most contentious locker room.

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