Hampton agrees to Steelers contract; Reed gets franchise tag

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The Steelers and nose tackle Casey Hampton have come to a three-year contract agreement worth $21.3 million this morning. The deal includes a signing bonus of $6.5 million.

The deal comes ahead of today's 4 p.m. deadline in which the Steelers planned to make Hampton their franchise player.

The team also placed the franchise tag on kicker Jeff Reed, meaning he will earn $2,814,000 in 2010 -- the average of the top five kickers in the NFL.

"It was very important for our organization to have a player of Casey's caliber signed for what we hope is the rest of his career," director of football operations Kevin Colbert said today at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis. "Casey has been a big part of our success and we think he has a lot of football left. Plus, we think he's one of our true leaders, and to get this free-agency period kicked off early by getting him locked up, means a lot to our organization."

Hampton, who will be 33 years old next season, will remain with the Steelers through the 2012 season under the new deal. Hampton would have been paid a $7 million salary if he had been franchised.

"We are pleased to know that Casey Hampton will be a member of our team for years to come," said Steelers President Art Rooney II. "Casey has been an important member of our club for nearly a decade, and we hope that this contract will allow him to finish his career as a Pittsburgh Steeler."

By placing the franchise tag on Reed, the Steelers virtually eliminated him from leaving in free agency. At the minimum, it would provide the Steelers with two first-round draft choices in return if he signs elsewhere.

"Our goal is to lock Jeff up long-term and have him finish his career with the Steelers," Colbert said. "He's aware when the process gets to this point, we all need to buy some time. As long as players and agents are willing to stay with the team, and the team wants you, you're going to get a deal done. We want to keep Jeff as long as we can."

The Steelers will not make free safety Ryan Clark their transition player, which would carry a $6,011,000 contract. But Colbert said Clark remains a priority to receive a new contract and he thinks a deal will get done.

More details in tomorrow's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

First Published February 25, 2010 1:45 PM


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