Lots of Steeler free agent news to pass along on a Wednesday afternoon in February:
First, LB Lamarr Woodley officially signed his franchise tag, meaning he will earn an expected $10 million in 2011. That's quite a nice raise from the $550K he earned in 2010, but if anyone has earned a $9.5 million raise, it's probably Woodley. Although that's quite an incredible sentence to write.
This move means the Steelers will retain Woodley through 2011, at which point he will once again become a free man. At any time, they could also negotiate a long-term extension, or they could possibly franchise The Wood once again in 2012. Mark Madden recently mused that the team will franchise Woodley and sign Ike Taylor long-term this year, then franchise Woodley and sign Lawrence Timmons long-term in 2012, then sign Woodley long-term and cut James Harrison in 2013. I could definitely see that scenario playing out.
As for teammate Willie Colon, it's unlikely that you'll see him in a Steeler uniform in the future, says his agent. Colon will be 28 years old and is coming off a torn Achilles tendon, and it sounds as if the Steelers and his representation have different thoughts on the worth of the offensive tackle and Roethlisberger wingman. Colon signed one-year, $2.521 million restricted free agent tender in April of 2010, but missed the entire season after tearing the tendon during an offseason workout. It would be nice to have Colon back in '11, but given that the Steelers made the Super Bowl without him, it's argue that he's not irreplaceable.