Feb. 7 the period begins where teams can name their franchise and transition players. The deadline for doing so is Feb. 21.
Also, the NFL combine will be held in February this year in Indianapolis, from the 20 through the 26.
Yep, it's a big month all right.
The Steelers have not yet re-opened serious negotiations with Pro Bowl guard Alan Faneca, but will do so after the Super Bowl as they make one last-ditch effort to sign him to a contract before he reaches free agency.
The chances of something being worked out before free agency begins aren't great, but they also aren't dead, either.
Faneca would like to remain in Pittsburgh, but unless the Steelers are willing to give him what he feels is market value, that's not going to happen.
And given that the market value is far more than the Steelers have ever before paid a lineman – let alone one on the wrong side of 30 – the team has begun its preparations for life without Faneca.
Because of that, you can expect much of the team's focus at the combine later this month to be on the linemen available. Heck, even if Faneca does return, the Steelers want to beef up their offensive line.
And given what happened with the market for guards during free agency last year – where even run-of-the-mill guys were getting upwards of $40-million, don't expect the Steelers to dive into that pool either.
If you're not going to give Faneca $50 million, then it would be silly to pony up the $35 or $40 million it would likely take to sign a young, unproven player such as Cincinnati's Stacy Andrews.
Given what other guards got on the open market last year, that's likely what a player like Andrews will want.
Dale Lolley appears courtesy Observer-Reporter.