Breaking down the restricted offers

If the Steelers are going to keep the likes of Larry Foote, Chris Hope and Jeff Reed, it's going to cost them .... big time.

According to the NFL Players Association, the restricted free agent tenders for 2005 will be $1.9 million, $1.43 million and $656,000.

The Steelers aren't likely to use the high tender on any of their players. That tender would give them first- and third-round compensation from any team that signs a player.

But they are likely to use the second tender on at least one of their restricted free agents - Reed - if they are unable to work something out with the kicker between now and the beginning of free agency March 2.

Because Reed was signed as an undrafted free agent, if the Steelers offer him a low tender and another team signs him, the Steelers would receive no compensation. The low tender guarantees the team a pick equal to that of the round the player was selected in.

Because of that, the Steelers will be able to tender Hope, their starting free safety, and Foote, a starting inside linebacker, at $656,000. Unless either player gets a contract that is completely out of whack, the Steelers could match it or receive a third round pick for Hope or a fourth rounder for Foote.

Running back Verron Haynes, a former fifth-round pick, and wide receiver Lee Mays, a sixth-rounder, and defensive end Brett Keisel, a seventh-rounder, are also likely to be given the low tender.

That means the Steelers would be spending nearly $4.8 million to keep Reed, Hope, Foote, Mays, Keisel and Haynes around for 2005.

But, as they did with Chris Hoke last season, they could still work out a more lucrative deal with any of those players, even if the player signs the one-year tender offer. After signing his one-year tender, Hoke signed a two-year deal for less money, a contract that all but guaranteed him a roster spot.

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