On the Steelers: Colon OKs deal for $29 million
The Steelers re-signed offensive lineman Willie Colon, left, to a five-year contract worth $29 million.
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Before he could jump in the shower and head to Latrobe, offensive tackle Willie Colon was jumping for joy Thursday night after agreeing to a five-year contract with the Steelers for $29 million.
"I'm happy ... I could not see leaving," Colon said. "My happiness is in that room and with coach [Sean] Kugler."
Colon will receive a $6 million signing bonus and $1.5 million salary this season.
That room would be the one where line coach Kugler gathers his players for meetings, and they will be rejoined by another key member. Jonathan Scott, who started at left tackle after Max Starks' neck injury in November, also came to terms with the team Thursday on a two-year contract.
Colon, who missed last season with an achilles injury after starting the previous three years at right tackle, said he accepted $3 million less over the life of the contract from the Steelers than what the Chicago Bears offered him.
"I know what I got in that room and on that team, " Colon explained. "My happiness means more to me."
It remains to be seen what now will become of tackle Flozell Adams, 36, who reported to training camp on time Thursday. He has a $5 million salary, and the Steelers would like to reduce that. Adams signed last summer and replaced Colon at right tackle after he was injured.
Colon likely will return as the starting right tackle. It is doubtful the Steelers would move Adams, 36, to left tackle. The Steelers may ask Adams to both take a pay cut and to accept a job as their No. 3 tackle.
There also is a question about left tackle. Jonathan Scott could return there, they could re-sign Max Starks, released Thursday because of his more than $7 million salary-cap figure, or use Chris Scott, a second-year player, if he shows he is ready. Rookie Marcus Gilbert, drafted in the second round, ultimately is expected to start at left tackle, but the lack of offseason workouts because of the lockout likely will prevent him from challenging for the job this season.
The lockout's late end and the ensuing rush to training camps left much confusion over technical rules drawn up by lawyers that had not filtered down to all.
The Steelers still were trying to figure out some of it and had to tell backup center Doug Legursky he had to go home after a union meeting Thursday. He is one of three "exclusive rights" free agents on the team and not permitted to practice with the team until Thursday (safety Ryan Mundy and punter Jeremy Kapinos are the others). They can rejoin the team after 6 p.m. Friday. Colon, Scott and Ike Taylor, who came to terms Tuesday, cannot practice until Thursday.
"It's a big question mark in all of our heads," Legursky said. "With the new CBA, there are a lot of new rules. The players are baffled by them. The agents are baffled by them. The coaches know a little about what's going on. It's another week we can't have at training camp. My understanding is I can do everything but the on-field practice. I can do on-field work on my own. I'm guessing we can do our own thing. We're all just trying to get a hold of these different rules changes."
One of the little-known rules is that any player under contract who signs a contract extension also cannot practice until Thursday, even though he is eligible to practice now if he does not sign that new contract. That could affect someone such as linebacker LaMarr Woodley, the team's franchise player whose agent is involved in talks on a multi-year contract. Woodley can practice Friday, but, if he were to sign a new contract Saturday, he would have to watch from the sideline until Thursday.
Many of the Steelers' biggest names -- including some of their most controversial players -- avoided the media when they reported Thursday, the only time players were available for interviews.
Traditionally, they drive up in front of their dorm, park their car and start unloading while a gaggle of media photograph and interview them. Among those who reported to camp but not through the front door -- thus avoiding reporters -- included Ben Roethlisberger, Troy Polamalu, Hines Ward, James Harrison, Rashard Mendenhall and Ike Taylor.
So questions that awaited Ward on his DUI arrest, Harrison on his disparaging comments about NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and Steelers teammates Roethlisberger and Mendenhall, Mendenhall on his Osama Bin Laden tweets and Taylor on his new contract will have to wait at least another day.
Coach Mike Tomlin, though, expressed his displeasure with Harrison calling Goodell names in a magazine.
"What he said regarding the commissioner was inappropriate," Tomlin said.
Some teammates did not feel the same way, including safety Ryan Clark.
"Honesty is good, you know?" Clark said. "I think sometimes the world is much like the people we date who ask for honesty, and then, when you give it to them, they cry about it. He was honest."
Tomlin emphasized that the traditional first-day running test Thursday was not a test. He called it a "conditioning evaluation."
"We don't know where these guys have been," Tomlin said. "More than anything, we wanted to see where they are from a conditioning standpoint."
While Tomlin said it went "extremely well," there were several players who could not continue. Two of them were wide receiver Limas Sweed and running back Jonathan Dwyer, who looks as though he could play nose tackle. Adams and Casey Hampton also cut their number of runs short but likely were given a pass because of their ages.
Woodley, who signed a one-year, $10 million deal as the franchise player, said he is not concerned about a possible injury before the team can negotiate a longer-term contract.
"The franchise tag is a pretty good number," Woodley said, "and, if you can't survive and live off that, something's wrong. So I'm not going out here worried about injuries. If it happens, it happens.""
First Published July 29, 2011 12:00 am