Steelers Notes: Ben, Worilds, FAs, Draft

Speaking to reporters today, Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert addressed a number of items on his team’s offseason to-do list, including contract extension talks with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. While there was some initial confusion among local reporters about Colbert’s comments about Big Ben, the team’s PR rep, Burt Lauten, tweets that the Steelers have indeed begun preliminary negotiations on a new deal with their QB. The club is confident that the two sides will work something out that locks up Roethlisberger for the next few years, according to Colbert.

That piece of info comes from Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (via Twitter), and Kaboly tweeted several more highlights from Colbert’s presser, as did ESPN’s Scott Brown and Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Here are the noteworthy comments and observations from Colbert, with all links going to Twitter:

  • According to Colbert, the Steelers would like to re-sign outside linebacker Jason Worilds, believing he had a good season in 2014 and that he has plenty of upside going forward. While the club doesn’t like to use the franchise tag, it hasn’t ruled out the possibility of assigning the transition tag to Worilds again this season. The cost for that tag in 2014 was about $9.75MM — it would be higher (likely around $11MM) in 2015.
  • At the moment, Colbert is concerned about the depth at tight end and outside linebacker, since only Heath Miller and Jarvis Jones are under contract for 2015 at those positions.
  • Defensive backs and pass rushers will be among Pittsburgh’s top priorities in free agency and the draft. The team will consider adding a starting cornerback if there is one who fits into the team’s system and cap, according to Colbert: “Sure, that’s a position that you are looking for help. Is there one who is available and signable? I don’t know yet.”
  • It doesn’t sound as if Colbert would be too concerned if the Steelers don’t make major additions at cornerback and outside linebacker in free agency — he believes it’s a strong draft class for both of those spots. For now though, every position remains in play for the club’s first-round pick (No. 22 overall).
  • Colbert and head coach Mike Tomlin will begin talks on Wednesday about which prospective free agents the team wants to attempt to re-sign. Ike Taylor and James Harrison are among the veteran defenders who will be up for discussion.
  • The Steelers won’t have to make as many cap-clearing moves in advance of free agency as they did a year ago, per Colbert.
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