Steelers sign LB to 3-year deal

The Detroit Lions, in desperate need of linebackers themselves, allowed one of their top back-up linebackers to sign with the Steelers yesterday.<br> <br> Clint Kriewaldt (pronounced KREE-walt) signed a 3-year deal with the Steelers on Wednesday.

In four seasons with the Lions, Kriewaldt played in 49 games as a linebacker and special-teams player but made only two starts.

The 6-foot-1, 242-pounder, who turns 27 on March 16, played in 10 games last season and made 11 tackles. In his career, Kriewaldt has 39 tackles and one interception. He's played all three linebacker positions with the Lions and will initially be used as an inside linebacker with the Steelers.

"Definitely special teams," Kriewaldt added. "Other than that, they just want to get me comfortable with the system for now."

Kriewaldt's best game may have been against the Steelers. Playing in reserve of injured weak-side starter Barrett Green, Kriewaldt made a career-high seven tackles in the Dec. 23, 2001 loss to the Steelers at Heinz Field.

Obviously, the game had a bigger impact on the Steelers than it did the Lions, who are facing the prospect of losing middle linebacker Chris Claiborne in free agency. Ironically, on the day Kriewaldt signed with the Steelers, a headline in the Detroit Free Press read: "Lions searching for a linebacker." Both team president Matt Millen and new coach Steve Mariucci have stated that the Lions need linebackers.

"Yeah, they do," Kriewaldt said. "We were talking with them and it's kind of sad we couldn't come to an understanding. I'm just happy to be here and excited. A lot of things happened today and I'm definitely excited. ... I didn't think it was going to happen this quick."

Kriewaldt was drafted by the Lions in 1999 in the sixth round out of Division III Wisconsin-Stevens Point, where he became the first four-time unanimous first-team all-conference player in that league. He finished his career with a school-record 416 tackles and also rushed for 16 touchdowns in two seasons as a goal-line running back.

Kriewaldt becomes the fourth former member of the Lions to sign with the Steelers since Kevin Colbert was named director of football operations in the spring of 2000. Colbert was the pro personnel director for the Lions until landing the job with the Steelers. He and every member of the Steelers' coaching staff and front office were off-limits to reporters and could not comment.

Kriewaldt will earn 420k bonus, base salaries of 530,000; 630,000; 800,000.

In another note on free agency, Steelers restricted free agent Clark Haggans visited Houston on Tuesday and could receive an offer from the Texans to play outside linebacker in their 3-4 defense.

If Haggans signs elsewhere, and the Steelers decline to match the deal, they would receive a fifth-round draft choice in return from the team that signs him. Houston has two fifth-round selections in this year's draft.

Jim Wexell & Dale Lolley

Steel City Insider Top Stories