Enter Free Agency

There has been some speculation the signing of Willie Williams Wednesday means the Steelers are looking at possibly dumping cornerback Chad Scott. <br><br> Is that a possibility? <br><br> Sure.

But is it a probability?

No.

Scott still makes just enough plays that head coach Bill Cowher believes he's not a liability. In addition, there's no way the Steelers are going to go with Williams, whose nearing the end of his career, to replace Scott in the starting lineup.

But you don't sign a 33-year-old cornerback to replace a 29-year-old one.

  • From what I've seen at minicamp and the coaching sessions so far, neither Ike Taylor or Ricardo Colclough are ready to start. Both have talent, to be sure, but we all know Cowher's not going to go with either unless he absolutely has to.

    That, as we know, is how Cowher works.

    So why was Williams signed?

    Because he was once a standout special teams player and he knows coordinator Dick LeBeau's defense.

    With Chris Hope, Troy Polamalu, Clark Haggans and Deshea Townsend moving into the starting lineup this season, the Steelers were pretty thin on the special teams front. Add to that the fact the team likely won't throw backup safety Mike Logan out there because of his sore knees and you have a team in dire need of some special teams bodies.

    Oh sure, they have some talented youngsters like Nathaniel Adibi ready to step into the fold. But you need the right mix of veterans and youngsters out there.

    Williams will likely be battling Terry Fair for a roster spot, not Scott.

  • On the other hand, the Jason Gildon era in Pittsburgh is nearing its conclusion.

    Gildon will be released as soon as Tuesday, June 1, ending his 10-year-career with the team.

    Gildon will be replaced as the most senior Steelers player by Jerome Bettis, who joined the team on draft day in 1996.

  • Don't believe those Plaxico Burress to Chicago for Anthony Thomas and/or David Terrell.

    First off, the Steelers don't need Thomas. The combination of Duce Staley and Bettis should be more than enough to carry the ball for the Steelers this season.

    Secondly, Terrell has been a pretty big bust in Chicago. And whatever you might think about Burress and his current little holdout, he has not been a bust.

    Sure, his numbers in 2003 were nothing to write home about, but they still weren't bad. And he still has two 1,000-yard seasons in the last three years.

    The Steelers need Burress to take the pressure off Hines Ward, something Antwaan Randle El just won't be able to do.

    And Burress needs the Steelers. A training camp holdout does him no good, since he needs to complete the finals season of his contract. And he needs to have a good season to earn the maximum on the open market.

    Burress also is likely aware of the Steelers history of not caving in to holdouts by players who are under contract. If they can get rid of Franco Harris and let Mike Merriweather sit out a season, they'll also play hardball with Burress.

  • Where are people getting the idea the Steelers are going to go back to pounding the ball with their running game once again?

    Need a hint as to what this team is going to be like offensively in 2004? Take a look at the tight ends on the roster.

    Jay Riemersma, Matt Kranchick and Bobby Blizzard are all considered pass catching tight ends. Matt Cushing is a decent, but not great, blocker who will have a tough time sticking with the team again. And Jerame Tuman . well, he's the closest thing this team has to a complete tight end and he's no prize.

    This team is going to throw the ball in 2004, with Staley catching 50 to 60 balls out of the backfield. Take that to the bank.

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