Some 26 hours ahead of the official start of the 2013 NFL year and the free-agency feeding frenzy, the Steelers reportedly re-upped guard Ramon Foster for three more years. Relatively speaking, the move barely merits a mention, what with the Giants' first-round tender of Victor Cruz, or the Vikings shipping Percy Harvin to Seattle.
But Pittsburgh's decision to keep Foster, a serviceable player who started 42 games in four seasons, could also offer hints about other possible personnel moves in the coming weeks.
Willie Colon, who moved to left guard in 2012 after six seasons at right tackle, fared well, except that he ended up on injured reserve for the third straight year. He's scheduled to make $5.5 million in '13, and there was speculation last month the Steelers might release him. Doing so would only mean $1.2 million in salary-cap savings. Additionally, Colon's agent, Joe Linta, recently told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette the Steelers hadn't indicated they wanted to reduce Colon's salary.
But with Foster remaining in the mix, Colon's fortunes -- both literally and figuratively -- could change. The organization could ask him to take a pay cut, and if he doesn't, it could choose to send him on his way. Alternatively, the Steelers could designate Colon as a June 1 cut, in which case the salary-cap savings would be $5.5 million.
And, of course, the two sides could agree to the status quo -- Pittsburgh would pay Colon $5.5 million to play left guard. The biggest problem: Despite being pretty good at his job when he's on the field, Colon can't stay healthy.
There's also what's behind Door No. 4: The Steelers hold onto Colon for now, see how the draft shakes out in late April, and if either Alabama's Chance Warmack or UNC's Jonathan Cooper -- the two best college guards in the country -- fall to them with the 17th pick, Pittsburgh grabs one.
Then Colon could be designated a June 1 cut and the Steelers' new-fangled offensive line heads into 2013 looking like this (from left to right): Marcus Gilbert, Warmack/Cooper, Maurkice Pouncey, David DeCastro, Mike Adams. And Foster, a former undrafted free agent out of Tennessee, would be the swing lineman, capable of playing goth guard and tackle.
But this is the second week of March. Who knows how 16 other draft boards will shake out in the ensuing seven weeks? For now, the Steelers have reinvested in Foster and remain mum on Colon. But that could all change before Tuesday at 4 p.m., when free agency officially begins.