After a slow opening, the Pittsburgh Steelers saw a flurry of action involving their team Sunday.
The Super Bowl champions suffered their first loss in several months when wide receiver Antwaan Randle El agreed to a seven-year deal with the Washington Redskins worth $31 million.
The deal includes up to $11.5 million in bonus money for the multi-talented wideout.
Randle El reportedly spurned an offer from the Chicago Bears that would have paid him $18 million, including an $8 million signing bonus.
The 5-10, 192-pound Randle El joins a crowded, if small, Washington receiving corps that also includes 5-10, 185-pound Santana Moss, 5-10, 190-pound David Patten and 6-0, 184-pound Brandon Lloyd. The Redskins acquired Lloyd in a trade with San Francisco Saturday.
A second-round pick of the Steelers in 2002, Randle El caught a career-low 35 passes for 558 yards and one touchdown last season, but was the only player in the NFL to return two punts for touchdowns.
The Steelers did agree to a three-year deal with free agent linebacker Clint Kriewaldt, the team's special teams co-captain. Terms of the deal were not available, but Kriewaldt turned down an offer from the New York Giants to re-sign with the Steelers.
"It would have taken something out of this world," said Kriewaldt of the possibility of signing somewhere else. Kriewaldt will sign his deal today.
The signings leave the Steelers with nine unrestricted free agents on the market. The most important of whom appears to be Brett Keisel. The Steelers continued talking to the young defensive end this weekend, something Kriewaldt confirmed Sunday.
"They're trying to get Keisel done, that's all I heard," Kriewaldt said.
Meanwhile, running back Verron Haynes, the team's third-down back, said his agent has also had talks with the Steelers but he's still exploring his options.
"They said they'd love to have me back and I would love to be back if we could see eye to eye on some issues concerning my role the next year," said Haynes Sunday. "Where do I fit in the scheme of things?"
Third-year pro Willie Parker enters the 2006 season as the team's starting running back after gaining over 1,200 yards last season. And Duce Staley accepted a restructured contract last week to stay with the team and fill the backup/short-yardage role held by Jerome Bettis last season.
That would presumably only leave room for Haynes as a third-down back again.
"I would like to get out there a little more on first and second down as well," said Haynes, who has gained 660 yards rushing on 159 carries and 322 yards receiving on 39 catches in four seasons with the Steelers.
"I haven't had an opportunity to talk to coach yet about that, but before I make my decision I would want to know where I fit in the grand scheme of things."
As for Steelers who've made or will make visits with other teams, defensive end Kimo von Oelhoffen traveled to New York to meet with the Jets on Saturday, but he left without a contract.
The Cincinnati Bengals are reportedly interested in quarterback Tommy Maddox, while the New York Giants continue to show interest in cornerback Deshea Townsend, despite their signing of Sam Madison on Friday.
Interest in free safety Chris Hope has been slow, though the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports Hope could come to Cleveland for a visit this week.
The Steelers are about $6 million under the NFL's salary cap of $102.5 million, but will lose some of that room when Kriewaldt signs his deal.
Sources confirm the team has a deal in place with backup center Chukky Okobi for a restructured contract that would turn a little more than $1.5 million of his $2 million salary this season into signing bonus to save the Steelers close to $750,000.
Okobi's deal would pay him a base salary of $585,000. He would count $1.335 million against the salary cap this season.
Courtesy of the Observer-Reporter
Jim Wexell contributed to this report