Steelers Notebook: LB Fox signs 2-year deal; preseason dates announced
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The Steelers signed their 10th free agent yesterday, as they continue to keep their own at home but still are without a veteran backup quarterback.
Backup linebacker Keyaron Fox, one of their best special teams players, signed a two-year contract worth $1.8 million. He received a $380,000 signing bonus. Fox signed a one-year contract as an unrestricted free agent from Kansas City last year and helped the Steelers improve their special teams play.
All 10 free agent signings were with the Steelers last season. They signed as restricted and unrestricted free agents and, in the case of Max Starks, as the franchise player.
Three of their unrestricted players signed elsewhere -- receiver Nate Washington with Tennessee, cornerback Bryant McFadden with Arizona and tackle Marvel Smith with San Francisco. Safety Anthony Smith became free after the Steelers did not offer him a contract as a restricted free agent, and he signed with Green Bay.
That leaves only three of their unrestricted free agents left without contracts, and two of them are quarterbacks Charlie Batch and Byron Leftwich. Defensive end Orpheus Roye likely will not return.
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin has said he'd like to have Batch and Leftwich return, although the chance that both will make the team is scant because they want to keep Dennis Dixon, a rookie last season.
Leftwich paid a visit Friday to his hometown Washington Redskins. The Washington Times reported the Redskins want him to compete with two others for the backup job to starter Jason Campbell and he likely would have to do so for minimum wage.
That's not a scenario that appeals to Leftwich, who was hoping to compete for a starting job somewhere. If he can find no such opportunity, he'd more than likely return to the Steelers, although they have not yet offered him a contract.
Batch, who spent last season on injured reserve with a broken clavicle, has been working out at the Steelers' training facility and has not visited another team. He would like to return to back up Ben Roethlisberger.
The dates and times for the Steelers' two preseason road games have been determined. They will play at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 22 at Washington and at 8 p.m. Sept. 3 at Carolina.
The Steelers' two home preseason games are at 8 p.m. Aug. 13 against Arizona and 7:30 p.m. Aug. 29 against Buffalo.
Three more college prospects paid visits to the Steelers yesterday: Center Alex Mack of California, defensive tackle Fili Moala of Southern California and guard Herman Johnson of LSU.
Eight prospects have visited in the past week. Each team is permitted to invite 30.
First Published April 7, 2009 12:01 am