Saturday, May 12, 2007

Faneca Shouldn't Expect Sympathy

"To make me go out there this year [and] play football with no security . . . in my mind, that's just not right," said Steelers LG Alan Faneca, the team's first-round draft choice in 1998. Well, in my mind, it's just not right that Faneca is criticizing the Steelers for jeopardizing his "financial security," not after paying him approximately $22 million(!) over the past five years, including a $1 million bonus last month. Just because other NFL owners have foolishly handed out $49 million contracts to other (lesser) offensive guards doesn't mean the Steelers are somehow obligated pay that kind of money to Faneca, who will turn 31 this December. The bottom line is that it just doesn't make sense to commit $7 million-plus a year to an interior offensive lineman, no matter how good a player.

This past Friday Faneca also said, "To be treated like this, I think it sends a message.... If they can do [this] to me . . . and let Joey [Porter] go, what does it say to the rest of the guys?" Well, it simply says that the organization is trying to do everything possible to remain competitive -- in other words, put a winning team on the field -- year-in and year-out, rather than rewarding aging veterans with contracts based largely on past performance. Naturally, the players want to make as much money as possible, but they also want to win games and go to the Super Bowl. Teams that descend into salary cap hell (by handing out huge signing bonuses to veteran players who don't live up to expectations) don't win many games. Prudent cap management is one reason the Steelers are so successful; just look at how little "dead money" (for players no longer on the team) the Steelers have counting against their salary cap. In all likelihood, the Miami Dolphins will eventually pay the piper for the contract they awarded Porter, and Faneca's next contract will, sooner or later, almost certainly create a dead money issue for the team that signs him. In fact, if I recall, Faneca has said publicly that he doesn't envision playing football that much longer, which could be a factor in the Steelers' reluctance to give him a huge signing bonus.

In my opinion, the Steelers ought to trade Faneca, if they have the opportunity. However, I doubt any team will give Pittsburgh commensurate value, not with Faneca set to become a free agent in March.


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