Tackle Willie Colon – Steelers 2011 Free Agent
Free Agent Classification: UFA (unrestricted free agent) *pending labor outcome*
2010 Salary Estimation: $2,521,000 Base – $2,521,000 Cap Charge
Analysis: We continue on with our breakdown player by player of each of the Steelers 2011 free agents and up next up for analysis is tackle Willie Colon. If you are looking for a player that was hit hard by the labor situation this past offseason, you certainly need not look much further past Colon. Because no new collective bargaining agreement was agreed upon by March of 2010, Colon lost out on becoming an unrestricted free agent as he did not have enough years accrued to meet the requirements set forth in the rules of the 2010 uncapped season. Instead, Colon was deemed a restricted free agent and the Steelers tendered him at a first round level. The first round tender meant that if any team had tried to sign Colon away via free agency, the Steelers had the option of matching the contract offered or receive that teams first round 2010 draft pick as compensation. Subsequently no teams made a play for Colon and he signed his one year tender to play for the Steelers in 2010. At that time he was slated to be the Steelers starting right tackle. More bad luck was on the way still for Colon as he suffered a torn Achilles in late June while doing agility drills. The injury cost Colon the entire 2010 season before it even started and he was placed on injured reserve. The Steelers went on to sign veteran free agent Flozell Adams to replace Colon at right tackle. Colon stayed around the team during his rehab and contributed as much as he could from the sidelines.
Colon was hoping to build on his 2008 and 2009 seasons in which he was regarded as the Steelers top lineman according to Pro Football Focus. His downfalls in both of those seasons though were the number of times he was penalized. In 2008 alone, Colon was flagged 13 times: 6 times for false starts, 5 times for holding and another 2 flags for lining up in an illegal formation. In 2009 he was flagged 7 times, 4 of which were for holding and the other 3 being for false starts. Over the course of 2008 and 2009 Colon also was Mr. Reliable as he only missed a handful of plays in that 32 regular season game stretch.
Future: With the uncertainty still surrounding the NFL labor situation, the Steelers have once again placed a first round tender on Colon, should the years accrued needed to be an unrestricted free agent remain at 6. The tender is expected to carry a price tag of around 2.773 should that come to fruition. Colon would once again miss out on free agency if that were to be the case. Should Colon wind up being unrestricted, you have to wonder how many teams would be willing to throw big money at a guy coming off of a torn Achilles. Leading up to the tender, there had been no contract talks between the Steelers and Colon\’s agent Joe Linta according to reports. The Steelers also still have Adams under contract, although he has not said whether or not he will return in 2011 for his final year under contract or retire. The Steelers are also expected to draft a tackle in the early part of the 2011 draft, further adding to the confusion. It seems right now that the Steelers are willing to let Colon walk via free agency should he end up being unrestricted or at the very least, let him test the waters. If he ends up restricted, he will undoubtedly sign his tender and it will then be up to the Steelers to see where he fits on the line in 2011. There is some speculation that Colon might be asked to move inside to right guard should that be the case, especially if Adams decides to return. Adams is however scheduled to earn 5 million in 2011 and could be asked to take a pay cut should he decide he wants to play one more season. If Adams were to refuse, the Steelers might be better served to try to re-sign Colon to perhaps a two or three year deal, assuming he looks to be recovered from his injury and release Adams. Personally I think Colon has a few more seasons left in him and after going back and forth with this since the season has ended, I think it is in the Steelers best interest to try to keep him. It very well may come down to how his free agent status plays out though and the longer the lockout last, the better chance he has at being back in black and gold for at least one more season. Colon certainly would be a bargain at nearly 2.8 million should he end up up restricted once again. It will be a while before this situation plays itself out it seems.
Other 2011 Steelers Free Agents Analysis