Notebook: Money matters with Ward, Hampton, Hope

PITTSBURGH – Hines Ward, one-on-one. Ready, set, go.

Q: Can't you lock these guys in a room and make them get it done?

A: (Laughs). Can I?

Q: You're the boss, right?

A: I'm the boss of my agent; I'm not the boss of the Rooneys.

Q: Isn't your agent having a problem with all his guys?

A: No, not really. He's got (Cedric) Benson. That's his only problem.

Q: Peter Boulware?

A: Well, Boulware's situation is a little different. I mean, look at the guys he does get done, like (Larry) Fitzgerald.

Q: You've said you don't want top-tier WR money and the Steelers have said they'll pay second-tier WR money. Why can't this get done?

A: How do you know they're offering second-tier, though? I mean, you don't know; you guys don't know what they're offering. That's why it hasn't gotten done. Yeah, on the outside looking in you're wondering why it hasn't gotten done. But there are two sides to the story. It's not all just my agent; it's not all just the front office. Can we come to an agreement somewhere? That's the problem. It's: ‘Hey, this is fair'; ‘Well, I don't think it's fair'; back and forth.

Q: Do you think negotiations are stuck?

A: I don't know. I mean, they're still negotiating and I'm stuck in the middle because I'm here practicing every day.

Q: But don't you have input?

A: Well, they tell me what's going on; the number figures they don't. They tell me we're close; this is what they offered. They know top 10, somewhere in there, and who's to say where in there. That's the whole thing. It's hard to speculate because I don't know what they're saying that I am.

Q: Is there progress?

A: Yeah. We're close. I think we're close. It's just a matter of fine-tuning here and there, just so I do get that opportunity to where if something was to go wrong they couldn't just cut me at anytime.

MORE MONEY MATTERS

Casey Hampton wasn't too surprised the Steelers sat him down before Saturday's game and talked about extending his contract. And even though Hampton can expect a big pay day in free agency next March, and sees the clock winding down on this negotiating season, he expects to remain with the Steelers for the long haul.

"It's the last year of my deal, so obviously they want to get something done," Hampton said. "They don't want me on the free-agent market or anything like that."

Can the sides cut a deal by Sept. 11? Or will Hampton test the market next March?

"This is where I want to be at, so there isn't a secret about that," he said. "This is where I want to be, so …"

Free safety Chris Hope turns 25 in a month and is just becoming comfortable in his second season as a starter. He's another player the Steelers would like to keep off the free-agent market, and another guy they'll have to sign by Sept. 11 to do so.

"If that's something they're interested in doing, I would definitely be interested in being a Steeler for as long as I can," Hope said. "Being that most of our team on defense is young, we have an opportunity to be good if we stay healthy and continue to grow together. But business is business."

Is Hope looking for big money?

"Oh yeah," he said. "Hopefully, if I have a season like I did last year, and make a couple more picks that I know I can make, anything can happen."

LITTLE HELP PLEASE

On his 69-yard fumble return for a touchdown, Steelers linebacker James Harrison had to point out a blocker to escort Clark Haggans. He was talking to Harrison at the time.

"He was too busy celebrating," said Harrison.

"I looked and checked, left and right, about four times," said Haggans. "I didn't see anybody so I thought we were clear. All of the sudden, (Chris) Chambers just came from out of nowhere and I gave him a little nudge. I think it was enough to squeeze him through."

QUOTABLE

Offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt on quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's oft-awkward mechanics:

"The thing about Ben, he throws from all different ways. That's one of his good points. He can throw from any position. He's been a very accurate passer in games. I think it was just a sense of timing. He told me before the game his legs were a little tired. That may have been what it was."

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