Steelers news, notes, and quotes

A look at the Steelers' offseason maneuverings thus far.

PLAYER NOTES

--Scott Smith, CB Ike Taylor's agent, met with the Steelers in Pittsburgh last week to try to work out a long-term deal, but nothing was done. Taylor is a restricted free agent who has until April 21 to sign an offer sheet. It would cost a team a first-round draft pick to sign him if the Steelers don't match.

--Jerome Bettis will throw the ceremonial first pitch at the Detroit Tigers' home opener against the Chicago White Sox on Monday afternoon.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

The Steelers signed four-year veteran WR Eugene Baker to a one-year contract. Baker (6-1, 167) spent four seasons with the Falcons, who drafted him in the fifth round from Kent State in 1999. He spent time on practice squads in Buffalo and St. Louis and played in four games in two years with Carolina. New England cut him before last season. He went to high school in Pittsburgh.

TEAM NEEDS

1. Wide receiver: The loss of Antwaan Randle El was the Steelers' biggest in free agency. They have Hines Ward and Cedrick Wilson, along with promising youngster Nate Washington.

2. Safety: They replaced Chris Hope with Ryan Clark but have little depth at the position.

3. Running back: Even with the re-signing of Verron Haynes, their third-down back, they need depth and perhaps another big back. Duce Staley has not been adept at blocking in the third-down package.

FRANCHISE PLAYER: None.

TRANSITION PLAYER: None.

UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: None.

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS

--WR Sean Morey (tendered at $721,600 with 7th-round pick as compensation) is a great special teams player.

--CB Ike Taylor (tendered at $1.573M with 1st-round pick as compensation) performed well in his first year as a starter and they gave him the middle tender to him to ward off pursuers. Led the team with 24 passes defensed, 11 more than anyone else.

EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS

--LB James Harrison is their top backup on the outside and could start in a 3-4 defense. He came out of nowhere and they love him.

--RB Willie Parker came out of nowhere as an undrafted second-year player to rush for 1,202 yards, the most by a Steelers player in five seasons. He's their starter but unlikely to receive a long-term deal until possibly next year.

PLAYERS RE-SIGNED

--QB Charlie Batch: UFA; $4.2M/3 yrs, $800,000 SB.

--OT Barrett Brooks: UFA; terms unknown.

--RB Verron Haynes: UFA; $1.75M/2 yrs, $315,000 SB.

--DE Brett Keisel: UFA; $13.1M/4 yrs, $3.29M SB.

--LB Clint Kriewaldt: UFA; 3 yrs, terms unknown.

--WR Lee Mays: UFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.

--WR Quincy Morgan: UFA; $625,000/1 yr, $40,000 SB.

--DE Shaun Nua: ERFA; $350,000/1 yr.

--CB Deshea Townsend: UFA; $7.76M/4 yrs, $2.29M SB.

--TE Jerame Tuman: UFA; $4.25M/3 yrs, $900,000 SB.

PLAYERS ACQUIRED

--DE Rodney Bailey: UFA Seahawks; $625,000/1 yr, $40,000 SB).

--S Ryan Clark: UFA Redskins; $7M/4 yrs, $1.7M SB.

PLAYERS LOST

--RB Jerome Bettis (retired).

--S Chris Hope: UFA Titans; $32M/6 yrs, $5M SB.

--S Mike Logan (released; failed physical/knee).

--QB Tommy Maddox (released).

--WR Antwaan Randle El: UFA Redskins; $31M/7 yrs, $5M SB.

--DE Kimo von Oelhoffen: UFA Jets; $9.2M/3 yrs, $3.2M SB.

--CB Willie Williams (released).

MEDICAL WATCH: No updates.


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