On the same day the Steelers lost one nose tackle to retirement, it was learned they will lose another to major knee surgery.
Nose tackle Casey Hampton said he will have surgery today to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, an injury that happened in the season-ending playoff loss in Denver.
The Steelers had indicated that Hampton would not need knee surgery, but the five-time Pro Bowl nose tackle told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette he will have the surgery to repair his ACL.
It will be the third time Hampton has had ACL surgery, two of which came during his Steelers career. It is the second time he has had the surgery on his left knee.
Hampton had ACL surgery in 2004 and returned to play in all 20 games the following season when the Steelers went to the Super Bowl. He played so well he was named the team's co-most valuable player along with Hines Ward.
But, in '04, Hampton was injured in Week 6 in Dallas and had the surgery three months earlier than this one, allowing him more time to recover before training camp.
Hampton, who will turn 35 in September, said he wants to play in '12, his 12th NFL season. But his salary will be $4.89 million and his cap value will be more than $8 million, making him a likely candidate to have his contract restructured. Hampton is entering the final year of a three-year contract he signed in February 2010.
Team president Art Rooney II has said the organization will face "tough decisions" in the offseason because the Steelers are $25 million over the salary cap.
However, with the retirement of longtime backup nose tackle Chris Hoke, the Steelers are not prepared to go into '12 without both players at what many consider to be the most important position in the 3-4 defense. The only other backup nose tackle is Steve McLendon.
Gerry Dulac: email@example.com and Twitter @gerrydulac. For more on the Steelers, read the blog, Ed Bouchette on the Steelers at www.post-gazette.com/plus . Ed Bouchette: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter @EdBouchette.