Jeff Reed's agent walked off a Florida golf course to a sight more satisfying than any birdie putt: His cell phone chirped with the news that the Oakland Raiders had just made Sebastian Janikowski the most expensive kicker in NFL history.
"I don't know what to tell you," Don Henderson said Tuesday afternoon. "The ironic part is, if you take a look at field-goal kickers the last three years, Jeff Reed leads the league in field-goal percentage."
Henderson said Steelers negotiator Omar Kahn called him Monday, apparently to begin negotiations on a new contract for Reed, who will become an unrestricted free agent March 5 without one. The news one day later that Janikowski signed a four-year, $16 million deal with the Raiders that includes $9 million in guaranteed money could not have come at a better time for Reed.
"Omar on Monday asked my opinion, and I said all I can tell you is what the stats tell me: that Jeff is the field-goal percentage leader in the NFL," Henderson said.
Reed has made 88.5 percent of his field-goal tries the past three years, 77 of 87. He was 27 of 31 this past season as well as in 2008 and kicked two field goals in Super Bowl XLIII. Janikowski, a former first-round draft choice known for his booming leg, has been good on 80.2 percent of his field-goal tries the past three seasons (73 of 91), including 26 of 29 in 2009.
Reed also kicks in one of the toughest home stadiums and in perhaps the toughest division for kickers in the NFL.
Kevin Colbert, the Steelers' director of football operations, said Friday that Reed, nose tackle Casey Hampton and free safety Ryan Clark are the team's three priorities to negotiate contract extensions before free agency starts. All would become unrestricted if they do not. Colbert said the team would wait until the end of this week to begin negotiations.
The Steelers offered a contract to Reed just before the 2009 season began that was rejected.
"We tried to get something done before season and it just didn't work out," said Henderson, who said the amount of Janikowski's new contract did not surprise him. "We want to be in Pittsburgh and they know we want to be there."
NOTES -- Two Steelers are recovering from shoulder surgeries. Starting center Justin Hartwig and safety Ryan Mundy both underwent procedures of unknown nature after the season and have been going through rehabilitation. ... Coach Mike Tomlin filled the final opening on his staff when he hired Scottie Montgomery to coach the Steelers' wide receivers. Montgomery, 31, coached the wide receivers at Duke the past four seasons. He played the position for the Denver Broncos from 2000-02 after finishing among the career leaders at Duke.