The holding pattern

The Pittsburgh Steelers are in a holding pattern, hard at work looking over the draft and deciding if/when they should make another move in free agency. It says here, they should wait until after the draft before making another move - if necessary. Read on ...

The Cleveland Browns saved the Steelers from one of their most recent free agent attractions, signing former Miami center/guard Rex Hadnot Monday to a two-year deal.

Hadnot was a starter for the Dolphins the past few years, but let's face it, if he was any good, Miami wouldn't have let him walk without making him an offer.

Miami isn't, after all, in any position to allow good young players to leave with no compensation.

Some would argue that Hadnot would have been an upgrade over Sean Mahan, something that's a good point. But at the same time, do two wrongs make a right?

At this point, the Steelers would be better off waiting for the draft and selecting a pair of young linemen in the first few rounds to upgrade their offensive line talent.

It's certainly better than overpaying for mediocre talent, something they did last season with Mahan.

Plus, you never know who might get kicked to the curb between now and then.

One player released after the beginning of the free agent period was Jacksonville's Chris Naeole.

The 33-year-old Naeole, a first-round pick of New Orleans in 1997, started 87 games for the Jaguars over the past six seasons. A torn tendon in his quadriceps ended his 2007 season eight games in, but Naeole has been very durable in his career.

Part of the reason he was released was because he was unhappy with his contract – which paid him just $1.8 million in 2007 – and skipped the team's voluntary passing camp last spring. And the injury allowed the Jaguars to get a good look at what life would be like without Naeole.

If he's healthy, though, he could certainly help the Steelers.

© The arrest of linebacker James Harrison over the weekend for allegedly assaulting his girlfriend is troubling to say the least.

Given NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell's tough stance with players who run into problems with the law, Harrison could be facing a one or two-game suspension if convicted.

Beyond that, the Steelers haven't exactly welcomed such trouble over the years.

And one has to wonder what Harrison was thinking, or – more correctly – wasn't thinking when he allegedly broke through a locked door to get to his girlfriend.

At best, it shows a complete lack of judgment. At worst, it shows a serious character flaw.

© According to Ed Bouchette of the Post-Gazette, now that the Steelers have gotten quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's contract extension completed, they will now turn their attentions to left tackle Marvel Smith.

But this is one contract that will be a little more troublesome.

Smith is a quality left tackle – when healthy. And therein lies the rub.

Since moving to left tackle in 2003, Smith has hardly been the picture of health.

He was limited to six games in 2003 due to a pinched nerve in his neck. He missed four more games in 2005 with ankle problems. And his 2007 season was ended by a back problem that required surgery, again missing four games.

On the plus side, if the past five years are a trend, Smith should play all 16 games in 2008.

But what do you pay a soon-to-be 30-year-old left tackle who's had a myriad of health problems.

If it were me, I'd want to see Smith back on the football field at least in mini-camp and a little bit of training camp before I shelled out big money for him.

Much like waiting until the draft to see how things mesh out with their offensive line, the Steelers should wait and see how Smith is before giving him big money.

Dale Lolley appears courtesy of the Observer-Reporter.

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