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Steelers sign Staley


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Five years, $14M for top unrestricted TB

By Len Pasquarelli

ESPN.com

Free-agent tailback Duce Staley, the top unrestricted player at his position, could take a bus across the Pennsylvania Turnpike to reach his new home.

Fitting, since the former Philadelphia Eagles star will take the place of "The Bus" in the Pittsburgh Steelers' lineup.

Staley on Tuesday night signed a five-year, $14 million deal with the Steelers, ESPN.com has learned, and the team hopes he will resurrect a ground game that uncharacteristically ranked as the second worst in 2003. Ironically, one reason Staley opted for the Steelers over the Detroit Lions, with whom he visited Tuesday, was the presence of Jerome Bettis, aka "The Bus."

The contract will pay Staley, 29, a $4 million signing bonus. Over its first four seasons, the contract is worth $12 million, and then the base salary in 2008 drops to $2 million. Pittsburgh had pursued Staley, 29, ardently the past two days and made him a top priority.

His signing means that the Steelers will release Amos Zereoue, a part-time starter in each of the last two seasons. Bettis recently restructured his contract, reducing his base salary to $1 million, to remain with the team for at least one more season.

"It was obvious the Steelers really wanted Duce," said agent Derrick Harrison. "And it was pretty obvious, too, that Duce admires Jerome and wants to play with him. He thinks they'll make for a great twosome."

Make no mistake about it, though -- the Steelers recruited Staley to be the starter. Not in three decades has the Pittsburgh ground attack been as pitiful as in 2003 and Staley will be counted upon to provide instant improvement. The Steelers traditionally have been a power running team and Staley's slashing style should make for a good fit.

The Tampa Bay Bucs were among the other teams interested in Staley, but they opted to sign free agent Charlie Garner earlier Tuesday.

A former South Carolina star, Staley was a third-round choice of the Eagles in the '97 draft. He has started in 65 of his 98 appearances and rushed for 4,807 yards and 22 touchdowns on 1,200 carries. Staley also is an accomplished receiver and has 275 career catches for 2,498 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Three times in his career -- 1998, 1999 and 2002 -- Staley rushed for more than 1,000 yards and he started double-digit games in four seasons. Last summer, he boycotted all of training camp, and that cost him his starting job. Amid rumors that he would be traded, however, Staley worked hard once he reported and coach Andy Reid agreed the Eagles needed him around.

Staley started only four games in 2003, the fewest since his rookie campaign, and ran for 463 yards. But when starter Brian Westbrook went down with an injury, Staley regained his starting spot late in the season and performed well through the playoffs.

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well in my book everyone in the division improved a bit, no team improved greatly so it'll be a much more competitive division now. I hope to god we finish in first but quite frankly our offseason so far hasnt been so great. Yes we got a good MLB and a good S but overall we havent improved vastly like everyone was expecting with Marvin. Hopefully we will have a good draft and finally be able to move CD then I'll think otherwise....but right now its about a C rating offseason.

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frankly our offseason so far hasnt been so great. Yes we got a good MLB and a good S but overall we havent improved vastly like everyone was expecting with Marvin

C'mon Jditty. Reserve any grades until after the draft at least. It's still WAY too early to say yet! B)

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i know but come on, even u realize we shoulda started this off season with a bang, instead we have made a silent murmur. Yes the grade will be moved in and after the draft but thats just my take so far. Especially with the contract messup with Graham...

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i know but come on, even u realize we shoulda started this off season with a bang, instead we have made a silent murmur. Yes the grade will be moved in and after the draft but thats just my take so far. Especially with the contract messup with Graham...

Listen guy's...when you try to grade all the teams chances in the AFC North for the upcoming season, pay particular attention to the grades for head coaches. No head coach is carrying the potential that Coach Lewis does. I believe his best is YET to come! I see the first black Super Bowl Champion head coach in our future!! Green was close, Marvin will do it!!

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i know but come on, even u realize we shoulda started this off season with a bang, instead we have made a silent murmur. Yes the grade will be moved in and after the draft but thats just my take so far. Especially with the contract messup with Graham...

Why is the Graham contract a messup? Come on...It's important to have a good kicker, and Graham is automatic....His pay isn't bad, and the contract isn't bad....You can't say the Bengals should have offered him the max tender cause that would have costed more than what he counts this year anyway, and he could still be a unrestricted Free Agent next year and we not have the option on giving him a tender....Besides, who wants to break in another rookie kicker.

As for starting with a bang? Puh-lease....No need to over pay for a cornerback (cause let's face that's the big postion to be filled in the fans eyes) I think every Free agent corner has been overpaid so far....Marvin is in this for the long haul, not a one year wonder.....

Besides, making a "splash in the offseason" hasn't helped the Redskins for the past few years, the games are won from September through December, not March.

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no i think we should have let him go. He has had 1 good year and your gonna make him a top 5 paid kicker? thats like giving rudi johnson a HUGE contract just cuz he filled in well last year. He deserved a good contract but not 1.3 mill avg over 5 yrs. We flat out over paid him, we coulda picked up a good kicker for much much less.

Who ever said that we had to get a high price guy to come in to make a bang? We have filled 2 spots on defense, and resigned 2 players. We have 5 holes going into the draft which will fill mb 2 of those spots right away. Theres still 3 holes not accounted for with only enough money to mb fill 1 spot good, and if u get ok players mb 2 of those spots. Right now we'll be lucky to have starters let alone depth...but marvin has done miracles so lets hope the rest of the offseason picks up! B)

btw im not being pessimistic im being real, im hoping marvin and the gang realize it and do something about it!

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they gave him the contract, because he's the first Bengal place kicker to kick well in PB stadium... everyone else struggled, and considering we'll finally get a better playing surface , he could perform even better.

But the place kicker is really the only position you need a top tier player at... teams are winning more and more with 'blue-collar " guys so having a strong kicking game speaks for itself.

A few years ago, the Raiders got tired of losing close games, so they drafted Sebastian Janikowski, to solidify the kicking game.. while he hasn't been the second coming of Jan Stenerud or anything, he has however kept them from losing games.

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no i think we should have let him go. He has had 1 good year and your gonna make him a top 5 paid kicker? thats like giving rudi johnson a HUGE contract just cuz he filled in well last year. He deserved a good contract but not 1.3 mill avg over 5 yrs. We flat out over paid him, we coulda picked up a good kicker for much much less.

Who ever said that we had to get a high price guy to come in to make a bang? We have filled 2 spots on defense, and resigned 2 players. We have 5 holes going into the draft which will fill mb 2 of those spots right away. Theres still 3 holes not accounted for with only enough money to mb fill 1 spot good, and if u get ok players mb 2 of those spots. Right now we'll be lucky to have starters let alone depth...but marvin has done miracles so lets hope the rest of the offseason picks up! B)

btw im not being pessimistic im being real, im hoping marvin and the gang realize it and do something about it!

Well Graham hasn't had just one good season, he had a good season for the Panthers the year before, and only lost out to Kasey in preseason cause Kasey was the centamental pick, Graham actually outperformed him....Also Graham has been a solid kicker since high school....I remember when he signed with Tech, the guy can just flat out kick....

And there is no way the Bengals could have got a better kicker cheap....He kicked good on the s**t that was the turf of PBS....

Marvin is building this team....Putting in guys he wants, and not paying for someone elses damaged goods....I think after all the signings you'll be pleasantly suprised by it all, and happy that there won't be a hangover from the signings in a year or two....Besides, if you look at the past few super bowl teams, you'll see they did pretty much what Marvin is doing....He's building a solid core of players....That's what wins championships

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Don't forget either, Graham is the most accurate kicker in Bengals history in one season on really bad turf. PLUS, we'll have that new fake grass, or synthetic turf for next season so Graham should be worth it. Chris is right too, most games come down within a touchdown so having a kicker that's accurate 50 yards and in will more than pay off when we win the Super Bowl in 2005, 06, 07, and 08.

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im not saying he isnt a good kicker, im saying we over paid for him.

I think it was a strategy that really turned on them. I agree that he might be overpaid, but I also agree that Marvin and the boys didn't think he'd get the offer Jacksonville offered him. Good strategy, just failed on them.

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not really a good strategy when he kicked 88% last year and over 90% on 40 or less yrds. They messed up big and u all are blind by the "marvin" makes no mistakes. I love the guy, hes the best coach we've had in over 10 years, and he will turn our team around. But he does make mistakes, i just wish everyone wouldnt be 100% pro marvin and be blind to his mistakes.

Another point ive wanted to make for weeks is that has anyone noticed that almost all of the guys that have visited cincy in the offseason has played for one of the coaches in cincy? Cincy still is not getting respect around the league from everyone else. Hopefully in future years they will get more respect from high profile players and visit cincy because they like what they see and what we've done.

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Another point ive wanted to make for weeks is that has anyone noticed that almost all of the guys that have visited cincy in the offseason has played for one of the coaches in cincy? Cincy still is not getting respect around the league from everyone else. Hopefully in future years they will get more respect from high profile players and visit cincy because they like what they see and what we've done. -----

What about Webster..? He hasn't played for a Bengal Coach..?

and if we sign Marion...that would be another..?

Taylor and Vincent would be the upper tier free-agents...

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Ya know, its so funny to hear the bengals fans acting like we were an upper tier team for years.....and you sound dissappointed at the moves were making.....are you kidding me? You cant be serious! First off, the draft hasnt started, second we got rid of Artrell...that should be rejoicing in and of itself. I mean, yall making all this noise, dont forget were still the bengals....its not gonna be a meteoric rise after one season....chill out and let the plan fall into place aight? just because we didnt sign the big name agents doesnt mean squat....theres a little something called 'steals', because you can grab a player with talent and potential and he works wonders in your system...same in the draft....look at T.O. with the ravens, noone can deny the ravens are a top tier team in the NFL, i dont care how much you hate them....theyve done a lot in their young existence, say like, winning the super bowl. They're perennial Playoff favorites, and Mr. Superstar TO is crying about playing for them! Grabbing Brand name FA's doesnt mean s**t in my book....

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I believe the Bengals IMMENSELY improved the defense without the aqquisition of a big name/money free agent, which I see as a very good thing!! I'm overjoyed at the moves so far! If you want to see despair, go check out the Ravens!! They're bummin'!! :lol:

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I believe the Bengals IMMENSELY improved the defense without the aqquisition of a big name/money free agent, which I see as a very good thing!! I'm overjoyed at the moves so far! If you want to see despair, go check out the Ravens!! They're bummin'!!  :lol:

Exactly, a lot of the moves this offseason has been more addition by subtraction....I mean getting rid of Hawkins has already improved the secondary without having to sign anyone :lol: It was also good to see the team not overpaying for players in the first week of Free agency like some other teams did....Too many holes to fill with blowing the wad all on one over priced player...

The funniest thing about the Ravens...They are in now in a no win situation...Yeah they'll probably keep TO...But damn, after ripping the team how will the players and fans react? Plus if he freaked out on Garcia as QB, can you imagine how he'll snap out on Boeller??? :D

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Who ever said that we had to get a high price guy to come in to make a bang? We have filled 2 spots on defense, and resigned 2 players. We have 5 holes going into the draft which will fill mb 2 of those spots right away. Theres still 3 holes not accounted for with only enough money to mb fill 1 spot good, and if u get ok players mb 2 of those spots. Right now we'll be lucky to have starters let alone depth...but marvin has done miracles so lets hope the rest of the offseason picks up! B)

Marvin is building this team....Putting in guys he wants, and not paying for someone elses damaged goods....I think after all the signings you'll be pleasantly suprised by it all, and happy that there won't be a hangover from the signings in a year or two....Besides, if you look at the past few super bowl teams, you'll see they did pretty much what Marvin is doing....He's building a solid core of players....That's what wins championships

Thank you man....thats what I was saying before....now, if youre gonna spend top dollar, it should be on the players YOU draft.....such as Smith, and Johnsons etc....

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