|Steelers lock up RG Simmons through 2011|
|Written by Admin|
|Sunday, 02 September 2007 12:02|
The deal secures Simmons through the 2011 season and guarantees him $7.85 million in new money. He was already set to make $900,000 this season, with a salary cap value of $1,435,664 to the Steelers.
Simmons has been a Steelers starter since the former first-round draft pick was a rookie in 2002, although he missed the 2004 season with a knee injury. Last season, with Simmons starting 14 games, running back Willie Parker ran for 1,494 yards - the third-highest single-season total in team history.
Simmons' signing almost certainly rules out any chance the Steelers will reopen contract talks with left guard Alan Faneca, the five-time All-Pro lineman who is going into the final season of his contract.
The Steelers have a policy of not negotiating contracts after a season begins, and they have had no substantial talks with Faneca for months.
Faneca may have assured his departure from Pittsburgh when, after reporting to a mandatory minicamp in May only because he could be fined for missing it, he criticized the team's negotiating tactics and promised he would not re-sign.
Simmons, from Auburn, came out of the preseason with a new contract after beginning training camp competing with Chris Kemoeatu for his job. Simmons reported to camp in good shape, clearly outplayed Kemoeatu and ended any debate about who would start during the five preseason games.
Simmons' deal came a year after his agent, Eric Metz, negotiated a $13 million extension for Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel.
Meanwhile, the Steelers set their eight-man practice squad Sunday by bringing back two of the 2007 draft picks they waived Saturday to reach the 53-man roster limit. Returning were defensive end Ryan McBean, a fourth-round pick from Oklahoma State, and wide receiver Dallas Baker of Florida, a seventh-round pick.
Offensive lineman Marvin Philip, a sixth-round pick a year ago from Cal, also returned, as did tight end Jon Dekker, safety Grant Mason, defensive tackle Scott Paxson and wide receiver Gerran Walker.
Running back Jamaal Branch, who was in the Saints' training camp, is the only player on the Steelers' practice squad who wasn't in their camp.