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 Harris: Is old age catching up to the Steelers?

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Wallace108

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PostSubject: Harris: Is old age catching up to the Steelers?   Harris: Is old age catching up to the Steelers? EmptySat May 21, 2011 11:16 am

By John Harris, PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Saturday, May 21, 2011

When did it all change for the Steelers? When did they begin stockpiling veteran players past 30?

Linebacker Joey Porter and guard Alan Faneca were the last key veterans who didn't finish their careers in Pittsburgh. Porter and Faneca were 29 when they played their final game with the Steelers.

Porter, who was released in a salary cap move after the 2006 season, had one year remaining on his contract. Five days after his release, he signed a five-year, $32 million contract ($20 million guaranteed) with Miami. After three seasons with the Dolphins, Porter signed a three-year, $24.5 million deal ($17.5 million guaranteed) with Arizona.

Faneca, who played out his contract with the Steelers, became disenchanted when he didn't receive what he considered a market-value contract offer from the team. He signed a five-year, $40 million contract ($21 million guaranteed) with the Jets as a free agent. After two seasons in New York, Faneca signed a one-year, $2.5 million deal with Arizona. He announced his retirement last week.

Before the start of last season, the Steelers underwent an unprecedented change in philosophy: The Steelers acquired five veterans (Bryant McFadden, Antwaan Randle El, Larry Foote, Flozell Adams and Arnaz Battle), including three projected starters (McFadden, Randle El and Adams). Three of the newcomers (Adams, Randle El and Battle) were 30 or older.

The Steelers invested $30.275 million in potential salaries and $4.175 million in signing bonuses in those five players.

Add in the 2011 salaries of 30-or-older contributors Troy Polamalu ($6.4 million), James Harrison ($4.56 million), Aaron Smith ($4.5 million), Casey Hampton ($3.9 million), Brett Keisel ($3.025 million), Hines Ward ($3.0 million), James Farrior ($2.825 million) and Ryan Clark ($2.5 million), and it proves the Steelers continue to make a substantial commitment to their veterans.

"It may not be by design. It just may be by circumstance that it's occurring this way,'' said California-based agent Jeff Sperbeck, who includes Porter and quarterback Dennis Dixon among his clients. "The Steelers have great players at a number of positions that are getting older. The team leaders and a lot of great players are still playing at a high level, so they may deviate from their philosophy and maybe allow it longer than they have in the past."

Read more: Harris: Is old age catching up to the Steelers? - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_738213.html#ixzz1N05M9mVa

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