PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Steelers stayed in-house
Saturday to make their first major free-agent signing of the
offseason, bringing back linebacker Clark Haggans in a move that
likely means former All-Pro outside linebacker Jason Gildon won't
Haggans, a reserve since being a fifth-round draft pick in 2000,
signed a $10.2 million, four-year contract that includes a $3
million signing bonus. He has been used primarily as a pass rusher
on passing downs and on special teams, getting six sacks in 2002.
Haggans also visited the Lions and Giants last week before
returning to Pittsburgh, which was outbid for free-agent
linebackers Marcus Washington and Carlos Emmons. Washington signed
Friday with the Redskins. Emmons, a former Steelers player, reached
terms with the Giants.
Haggans, 6-foot-3 and 250 pounds, had 10 unassisted tackles, a
sack, a pass deflection and a forced fumble last season and was the
special teams captain. He had a season-high nine tackles filling in
for injured starter Joey Porter in the season opener against
Since the season ended, Haggans was sentenced in Brighton,
Colo., to 10 days in jail for driving while impaired. Haggans'
sentence includes six months of probation and 24 hours of public
service. The jail time can be served out of state. A hearing is
scheduled Aug. 31 to review his case.
With the Steelers right at the $80.6 million salary cap, they
can't make any more significant moves until they free up some cap
room -- something they could do by releasing Gildon, whose
production has dropped off in the last two seasons.
The Steelers will bring in free agent running back Duce Staley
for a visit Sunday as they look to get their trademark running game
going again after it finished next-to-last in the league last
Running back Jerome Bettis previously agreed to a large salary
cut, from more than $4 million to $1 million plus incentives, but
the Steelers also want to sign or draft another running back. They
are expected to release or trade Amos Zereoue, who averaged only
3.3 yards per carry after beginning last season as a starter.
Staley previously visited with the Bucs and Cowboys and is
seeking to move to a team where he will get more carries. He had
only 97 carries for 457 yards and scored seven touchdowns last
season as Philadelphia lost in the NFC title game for the third
The Steelers may lose another player on defense if they don't
match New England's $1.3 million, one-year offer sheet to backup
defensive end Rodney Bailey. Bailey, who had 5½ sacks in 2002, is a
restricted free agent and the Steelers have the right to match any
offer to him.
The Patriots' offer includes a $650,000 signing bonus.