Kevin Colbert Q&A

<b>KEVIN COLBERT</b> <br><br> Kevin Colbert, the director of football operations for the Steelers, sat down with reporters and gave a frank interview about the state of the team as the dust settles on a brisk opening to the free-agent season. Following is the full transcript:

Q: Why didn't you match the offer to Rodney Bailey?
A: When New England offered Rodney a contract at that point we wanted to seek out options and Travis Kirschke has been a solid backup in this league and he had his chance to start last year and had a very productive year in a three-way rotation in San Francisco. It was a situation where we were able to do a longer-term deal with him and we decided to do that, not match and get the sixth-round pick as compensation. So, we feel we get a good player and a draft pick and a longer-term commitment than just the one-year that Rodney was offered.

Q: What position will Kirschke play?
A: He was a 4-3 tackle his whole career, but we believe he can play both end and tackle for us.

Q: Can he play nose tackle?
A: He can play in there if he had to, because he has played inside, but ideally he is more suited for end. I'm sure that is where they are going to line him up.

Q: How did he play against you guys last year?
A: I can't remember specifically. He had like 53 tackles so that was his most productive season. That was his first chance he had to start. When we had him in Detroit he backed up Luther Ellis and James Jones. He was behind two pretty good guys.

Q: Did you talk to Rodney about doing a longer-term deal?
A: Yes, we did and he was not interested in doing anything at this point. I think he may have just wanted the chance to be a free agent (next year). Travis actually did that last year because he signed a one-year deal with San Francisco.

Q: How's you cap situation right now?
A: Right now, with the release of Amos Zereoue and Dee Brown, we're OK. Right now we don't have to make any further moves.

Q: You would if you had to make further moves?
A: Most likely, yes.

Q: Is this the point where you'll step back and take a little breath?
A: We will step back. We are by no means out of it. We will continue to look at players and options but you're more in a trade-off situation right now. You'll continue to look at it. Sometimes, you end up getting a pretty decent player at a good price.

Q: Can you sum up the first week both for you and the NFL?
A: I think in the NFL what happened was, by our estimation, there was $285 million available. Collectively, there was that much room. That's probably the most room that has been available, because a lot of teams have paid for their past sins. Last year, there were a lot of players released and a lot of teams dealing with cap issues. So, a lot more teams are in compliance this year. There was a large amount of money available. It was a pretty good free agency group, especially at certain positions like corner and it moved faster than I can ever remember it moving. It was really like the stock market. It was buying and selling going on right and left. It was a very fast-paced market that the prices got very, very expensive quickly. I don't remember that happening. You always had a few of those midnight signings, but nothing like what went on. I don't know what the total was that was spent, but I know it high in that short period of time.

Q: Weren't you precluded because you signed your big guys in the past?
A: Right. Our free agency in part was done last year when we did start those guys. That is part of our free agency class. We're happy that those guys weren't free agents and we're happy to have them and I'm sure they were happy to have their contracts done early. That is part of our group, in essence, because they were signed before they went out.

Q: Could you assess your first week?
A: I think we did all right. We were happy. We looked at all the players that went and we made decisions not to get involved when things got like they did. We stayed in touch, we tried to monitor it and we tried to do things we knew we could handle under our cap. Duce's (Staley) situation, we're very happy to get a veteran of that stature, especially with the thought of upgrading the running game. And he's a ready-made, proven player who can step in and help us. And he fits from a cap standpoint. We thought that was a reasonable, good deal for both sides. We were happy we were able to do that. You always want to be able to do as much as you can, but the way the market went - I guess we did some little things; I don't want to say anything's little -- we felt it best to keep more players and maybe get that one signing like a Duce Staley as opposed to putting all our money into one player and having to patch up the rest of that.

Q: Aside from the draft, do you think your QB situation is going to be status quo?
A: Yes. Yeah, you can kill that (Tim) Couch stuff. I'll say it on the record, we're not interested. We're not interested in any free agent or soon-to-be free agent quarterbacks. We're not interested - maybe if you want to say it another way - in any veteran quarterbacks.

Q: Are you still talking to your own free agents? Restricted guys?
A: Yes, correct.

Q: If you sign a restricted free agent would you have to make a move?
A: Not necessarily because some restricted guys will actually give you cap relief. They're at a high tender and if you do them at a deal, you can still get relief, some. But at this point, every little bit would help.

Q: What about any interest in Mike Logan?
A: That's all we know, he was in Green Bay. We've been in contact with him. I think he'll continue through the process. Mike will stay in touch with us, we're confident of that. He's taking his opportunities with these other teams. He has always maintained he would like to be able to stay so I would anticipate he and his agent would always stay in touch with us.

Q: Was the Marcus Washington thing a disappointment?
A: It was, but we knew there was going to be stiff competition. We did what we felt we could do under our constraints. Again, the money was going get up there and we weren't going to get into a spending spree and put everything into one player. We had an interest in Clark Haggans, right from the beginning. But if Clark decided, as he did, to take a visit, we had to cover ourselves as well. We always felt confident we could sign Clark. We took a shot at Marcus and it didn't work. We were fine with that because in all honestly we're just as happy to have Clark Haggans because Clark, when he's had the chance to perform, has done well. He knows what to do. There's no transformation that would have had to have occurred, like with Marcus going from a 4-3 to a 34, just like James Farrior. It took him a year to pick everything up and he was much better the second year than he was the first year. Detroit was seriously interested in Clark and we had to make sure that we were ready. There was no guarantee that Clark was coming back. He was there the same day Marcus was here. Was it the same day? I think it was. We just wanted to be prepared. We felt good we were going to sign one of them and getting Clark to come back, we were very happy with that.

Q: Can your cap ultimately handle Clark and Jason Gildon?
A: Yes.

Q: What's Jason's status?
A: He's still with us.

Q: Do you expect him to be with you in training camp?
A: Yes. Again, his status has not changed. Yes. I'm going to bring Joe (Greene) in for these. Was that emphatic? Yeah, I'm going to bring him in here. Here, Joe, sit down.

Q: What do you think happened to Amos Zereoue? How did he decline so quickly?
A: I think in all honesty, when Amos had his change, when Amos was the starter, if you remember, those were the game when we were really in flux on the offensive line. That's when Marvel (Smith) was going through his thing. Kendall (Simmons) was not performing as he had his rookie year due to the diabetes. The right tackle situation was unstable. We were moving Oliver (Ross) to left, Todd to right. Then we moved Alan (Faneca) out. We put the best player on the offensive line and put him at an unfamiliar position. You put the best guard and made him into a good tackle as opposed to a great guard. All of that was going on when Amos was the starter. The line did solidify as the season went on and they finally got to play together and settle in, Amos wasn't the starter. He had his opportunities but Jerome (Bettis) proved to be the better back as the year went on. And with Amos' cap number, at this point, and him slated to be just a role player for us, we felt we couldn't handle that cap number with that role.

Q: Was there any interest when you tried to trade him?
A: Yeah, there was. There was. Teams had other options. They either signed their own players or they're still looking at other players.

Q: Will you get into some of these other contracts of guys that are up next year?
A: No. Anything we do is always after the draft. We always wait until after the draft is over before we move on any of our own players. At that point, we probably will depend on what we did or didn't do in free agency or in the draft.

Q: What about the Plaxico Burress trade rumors?
A: Oh, there's nothing to those.

Q: You have three sixth-round picks now. What are you going to do with yourself?
A: We have nine altogether. The more the merrier.

Q: You need to trade your third round pick so we get out of here on Saturday night.
A: No. We'll get more, make you guy's stay.

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