Steelers GM Kevin Colbert Says They Are Going To Protect Interest In Mike Wallace

Pittsburgh Steelers GM Kevin Colbert is continuing his media rounds this week and has granted several interviews as of late. On Thursday morning he talked to 105.9 The X and was asked again about the status of Hines Ward, Mike Wallace, Rashard Mendenhall and the hiring of Todd Haley. Below is the transcript of the interview and you can hear the full interview below.

Re: Craziest suggestion thus far from people on the street regarding Hines Ward.

Colbert: I mean obviously the players that have been here for a while, you know fans have their favorite, and their not shy about expressing their opinions and that\’s fine you know. It\’s great that there\’s the interest, you listen and you move on. Nothing outrageous, there\’s just a lot of a support for a lot of our players and it\’s a different year for us and we have to make some decisions really over the next few weeks and that\’s what we are in the process of doing right now.

Re: Feel an onus to have Hines play until he is satisfied with his career or do you not look at it from that perspective.

Colbert: I think you always have to be aware of who any player is and what their status is within the organization, if changes need to be made. But ultimately our job is to try to win Super Bowl championships and sometimes we have to make decisions that might not be popular. But sometimes you got to do those things just to ensure your team has the best chance to compete and if we have to make difficult decisions and we win, then things will be fine and if we make difficult decisions and we don\’t win, things won\’t be fine. So ultimately it still comes down to did you win, or did you not win a championship.

Re: Where do things stand with Mike Wallace and does the Ward decision play into that?

Colbert: Yeah, Mike Wallace will be a restricted free agent and there are different levels that he can be tendered and we are certainly going to protect our interest there because Mike has proven himself to be a Pro Bowl player, who still hasn\’t fully reached his potential. We hope that Mike is going to be here for years to come and really it reflects on not on one player versus another but really it\’s our 53 man roster and what those cap numbers will be for the whole group collectively, and how we can manage it. But it will always be with the philosophy that we want to keep our young and ascending players right here with us.

Re: Can you pay a guy like Ward what he needs to be paid to be a 4th or 5th receiver if he doesn\’t play special teams.

Colbert: It\’s always a combination of again, not only one position, but you may have to forgo another position or player at another position you know to fortify one. Last year you know we carried six receivers, we just released Arnaz Battle last week to clear some roster spots for some future guys we wanted to sign, but it\’s not always “a” position we have to make decisions on whether your keeping one or running one, but it comes into maybe you want to go heavy in a position as we did last year at wide receiver just to keep a group together, or a player on the roster, so you go short somewhere else. So it\’s really never ultimately one position where you\’re deciding.

Re: Teams mentality as it relates to Rashard Mendenhall and what are you going to do with him in terms of IR, the draft or a free agent.

Colbert: Let me state first, there\’s been no setback or anything of that nature. Rashard had the surgery, he\’s been rehabbing diligently here. We see him everyday, but in mind just through experience and talking with doctors, players aren\’t fully recovered from something like an ACL or an Achilles for a year. It doesn\’t mean that that can\’t play before that, they just may not be 100% you know. With a running back I especially get concerned because of the speed that they have to regain and their ability to start and stop which puts more pressure on it than someone like Casey Hampton, who doesn\’t have to have the same stop and start, as he rehabs from his ACL. So could it be a year? Yes. Do we anticipate it being a year? Hopefully not. I think that the thing that we can predict is that he will most likely open the season on the physically unable to perform list, which gives you six weeks that he\’s out, then you get three weeks to make a decision as to whether he can be activated or not. But I am real sure that it is probably going to be at least those six weeks, maybe nine and then it could be a whole year. We just have to see how the rehab goes. To me anything shorter than a year, it\’s a bonus.

Re: Could you release him if he ended the year on injured reserve last year with the knee or is that not allowed?

Colbert: Yeah, any player that gets released off of injured reserve, they get compensated for whatever time they would have been on the IR in a given year. Say a player gets injured, and he\’s hurt, and it\’s a four week injury and you release before those four weeks, he\’ll get paid for four weeks. If it is a season ending injury and he gets hurt in the middle of the season, he gets paid for the full season. One season doesn\’t roll into another. There\’s a whole another set of rules that are called injury protection rules, which protect a player in the event that he can\’t come back from a previous years injury, but that stuff is complicated and really we\’re not even anywhere near that right now. I mean we anticipate Rashard being healthy, we just don\’t know at what point.

Re: Cap wise if you release him or place him on injured reserve it would count the same way?

Colbert: Correct.

Re: No not at all. Coach Tomlin has full authority over who he hires or who he doesn\’t rehire. I mean that\’s his decision, and in Todd\’s case, I knew Todd\’s father very well. Dick Haley, who of course was the personnel director here during the 70\’. I have worked with Dick on the road and we\’ve gone to meetings and such and I knew Todd when he was younger before he got into football and didn\’t know him too much between that and when he first got involved as a scout and then as an assistant coach, then a coordinator and then a head coach. We\’ve had interaction before, but I hadn\’t really known him in depth. I am looking forward to working with him and getting to know him and his likes and dislikes and he\’ll learn about us. I think that one thing that intrigued Coach Tomlin about Todd was his true understanding of the way the Steelers have done business for decades, because he witnessed it watching his father come through the organization. So I think from an offensive standpoint we will see where everything goes and we\’ll continue to learn about each other and how it\’s all going to work. My job will be to get the best players to give ourselves the best chance.

Re: Do mean by that running the ball more?

Colbert: No I don\’t think that\’s necessarily.. you know the game has changed from a physcological standpoint. I think not only here, but league wide and we\’ve got a great quarterback and we\’ve got some pretty good young receivers. So it would only make sense to use them. I think everybody that understands that, accepts that. What won for us in the 70\’s isn\’t necessarily going to win for us in the 2000\’s. Even if you look back on those teams, they win from being great defensive teams to being great offensive teams during their six year run of domination. So all teams change and you have to adapt to who your great players are and I think that will always be the case.

  • Joe D

    Sounds like Hamptons injury is a problem to try to renegotiate his salary.
    He basically will count against CAP if you cut him due to his injury.
    So he is NOT a candidate for contract renegotiation from what I read above regarding Mendenhall.
    Oh boy… Steelers have problems with CAP as I saw Hampton as easy to cut salary…

  • Dave, was that you on “Moving the Chains” today? Good call, although I didn’t like hearing that Wallace is most likely going to be playing in a different jersey next season.

  • SteelersDepot

    Yes. I stumped Pat. lol Did he answer my questions since?

  • Eric87

    the steelers will not allow wallace to leave. they need to cut a few players or restructure them, and give wallace the franchise tag and work toward a friendly deal. If you put a 1st round tender on him, then he is more than likely gone, unless he has a willingness to stay with the team and just not bail out for the money, hope he is loyal to the team

  • Eric87

    restructure ward, farrior, foote, ben, harrison, polamalu and if the MLB’s dont wanna take the paycut then bye. I also would say goodbye to jon scott and kemeoatu as both were horrible last year. That seems like it could alleviate a good bit of cap space to get wallace a contract before the start of the season, doesnt mean the franchise tag has to ride into the start of the season.

  • Mike54var

    Sounds like Hampton is faking his injury, like Jerome Bettis did years ago, so the Steelers won’t cut him. If they cut him while he’s injured they still would have to pay his salary, and it would also count against the cap. Not good………

  • Eric87

    will allen should be gone too because they have myron rolle and da’mon cromartie-smith to take over the fourth safety position

  • No idea. I was in the car at the time, and had to turn it off a few minutes later. Great questions though. I really felt that the call, and Pat’s answers, helped paint a better picture for what the team is in for this season. The more I think about it, the more it looks like this may be a semi-rebuilding year for the Steelers.

  • Just to make sure we both heard the same thing, but according to Pat’s answer to your question, it sounds like there is zero chance that the Steelers can afford to franchise Wallace, right?

  • Hampton’s scheduled 2012 salary won’t count against the cap. If Hampton is cut, the only money that would be charged against the cap, would be what ever pro-rated amount is left on his signing bonus, and the money the Steelers would have to pay him because of his injury.

  • JerryCola

    This can get done when they do a combinaction of re-structure contracts and releasing over-the-hill players such as Ward, Smith, Farrior unless they are smart enough to retire first.

  • Eric87

    with the talent the will still be around on both sides of the team, i really doubt that this will be a re-building year. Just need to keep drafting well and infusing youth into the line-up. There is no way the steelers will let wallace walk, and he may actually have no desire to leave.

  • Eric87

    Another observation, I’m pretty sure that I haven’t heard Mike Wallace being a diva demanding more money, maybe he could actually be a team player. Sometimes players do like playing where they are at.

  • Eric87

    Hampton recently had acl surgery. Not faking that 1, also with as big as he is, has to take time to rehab that knee

  • Eric87

    agreed, and with the way they signed woodley,timmons, and polamalu last season I believe that colbert can pull wallace out this year and antonio brown next year. Not sure if sanders and mendenhall shoud be getting big contracts yet as they both really haven’t been consistent. I wouldn’t mind seeing both of them staying as well tho.

  • The Steelers may not have a choice. They can’t clear the cap space to use the franchise tag on Wallace. They can place a first round tender on Wallace, and will have the right of first refusal if another team makes him an offer, but to exercise that right, the Steelers will have to match the other teams offer. A competing team can structure their offer so that the first year salary is too big for the Steelers to match, in which case Wallace is gone.

  • SteelersDepot

    The answered it about an hour later and said it would be the original pick involved. They both painted a pretty sad picture, but something tells me they will retain him some how, some way! I was surprised I stumped him with both questions.

  • Eric87

    I understand what you are saying, but as seen sometimes in the past(most recently ryan clark, i believe) have decided to stay in pittsburgh, doesn’t mean that wallace has to sign that offer sheet. May decide to work something out here

  • Eric87

    All of these guys in the locker room should take lessons from Lamarr Woodley. He kept quiet and remained patient. His loyalty to the team awarded him a lucrative deal last offseason, so why shouldn’t Wallace follow suit??

  • It doesn’t work that way under the new CBA, there was a post on it a few days back.

  • Joe D

    Based upon what was said by colbert,
    your statement is incorrect… players on IR count against CAP…
    cutting an injured player will still count against CAP…

    Therefore, Steelers are in no position to renegotiate Hampton salary….

  • I am not in favor of them breaking the bank for Wallace anyway. If we can keep him for a reasonable amount, great, if not, at least they turned a 3rd into a first. I love Wallace, but I don’t think the WR position truly has 9mil/yr value compared to other teams. Look at the top 5 paid WRs last year, only one of them (CJ) was on a winning team, in part because of how much cap space they take up.

  • Joe D

    That is incorrect…
    That would be true if he were not injured… but those on IR count against CAP and if CUT, still count due to injury… read what Colbert said.. same with Mendenhall!!