NFL players are a scarce commodity. Economics 101 tells us that scarcity + high demand leads to high prices.
When free agency began at 12:01 am on Friday the 27th, the Steelers saw no fewer than a eleven unrestricted hit the open market. Most are not expected to return, so that begs the question, just how valuable are these players?
The answer depends upon who responds.
One of the most interesting things in the run up to free agency was the difference in the values that the Pittsburgh press pegged on the Steelers free agents vs. the national media.
In discussing Bryant McFadden, Chris Kemoeatu, and Nate Washington, the Post-Gazette and the Tribune Review regularly attributed the adjectives “top free agent corner/guard/wide receiver,” or phrases like “so-and-so is expected to be the first to go.”
These men are good players who will rake in a lot of money and the Steelers will miss McFadden and Washington.
But the rest of the national media does not hold these Steelers in as high regard as their colleagues in the Pittsburgh press do.
Peter Schrager of Fox Sports wrote a lengthy column rating free agents at every position. He broke players down into three major categories: Big Money Guy, The Bargain Bin, the Wild Card, and one minor one, Other intriguing names.
The Steelers only had one player land in one of Schrager’s top three categories. He put Byron Leftwich into the Bargain Bin, which is on the mark. The only other Steelers to make Schrager’s list were Marvel Smith and Nate Washington, who both were “Other intriguing names” at their respective positions.
Washington is easy to understand, but Smith an intriguing name at his age and with his injury history?
Byrant McFadden’s name was no where to be found, which must be considered some what of a surprise.
Regardless, its interesting to note that 72 hours into free agency, neither McFadden nor Washington has a new team. That will almost certainly change before the end of the week, but the disparity of the Pittsburgh media’s evaluation of Steelers free agents and that of the national media is interesting.
It brings back memories of 1999, when Richard Huntely signed a contract extension with the Steelers. The exact numbers of his deal have faded from memory, but they were nothing extraordinary. The Pittsburgh media was in awe of the contract, in spite of the fact that it only amounted to backup money – generous back up money, but back up money nonetheless.
Pittsburgh Sports Media Gets Blindsided by Simmons’ Departure
Speaking of surprises, Steelers Nation was not expecting Steelers to cut Kendall Simmons. And that’s because this move was totally unanticipated by the Pittsburgh press corps.
In particular, Ed Bouchette was asked time and time again during the season in his weekly chat sessions about the Steelers plans for Chris Kemoeatu. Bouchette’s reply was that the Steelers would most likely let him go and plan to start Stapleton and Simmons at guard in ’09.
To be fair, Bouchette reported several times over the last week that the Steelers were in serious talks with Kemoeatu, but never he suggest that Simmons would get the axe.
Taking Our Own Medicine, Again
A site that revels in pointing out the faults and inconsistencies of the professional journalists in Pittsburgh must own up to its own short comings.
Steel Curtain Rising ran a post the morning after the Steelers cut Simmons. In that post we stated that he’d been drafted in 2003. In fact, he was drafted in 2002. We’ve corrected the mistake, but it is nonetheless important to fess up.