The message delivered by Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert wasn't speaking to an ambiguous group of year-to-year Steelers players, it was speaking to all of them, including quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
Steelers General Manager Kevin Colbert promised big changes to the Steelers roster, and something BTSC's PaVaSteeler referred to as a message "there are no sacred cows" on the Steelers.
Who are the perceived sacred cows Colbert could be referring to?
As PaVa points out, there's essentially no chance wide receiver Mike Wallace will return next season. Colbert himself said the Steelers were 8-8, they don't have a lot of "franchise players."
But there's more...so much more behind that statement.
For the last several seasons, Colbert has always said, almost by default, the Steelers would not target a quarterback in the first round. Typically, his statement would go something to the effect of "outside of the quarterback, pretty much any position is on the board."
He's not saying that this year. Maybe (obviously) he's putting everyone on the current roster on notice. No one should feel comfortable about an 8-8 season. No one who's earned previous capital based on performance that helped lead to success in Pittsburgh got to that point feeling a .500 record is acceptable. It's not as much a statement that suggests massive changes are coming, it simply means the capital of some players has run out.
The capital of some coaches has run out.
And that's exactly the way it should be.
For as well as Roethlisberger played at times this season, his December collapses are becoming more frequent as he progresses with age. Considering the huge amount of money he's owed in the final three years of his contract and the injuries he's sustained over the last two years, Colbert's message is that not even Roethlisberger is immune to consideration.
That doesn't mean the Steelers will take the unprecedented move of trading a starting quarterback in what would absolutely be the biggest transaction in franchise history, but it does mean it's officially time to start considering the idea of bringing in a back-up with the idea of pushing the embedded Steelers starter.
It's been long-debated whether Byron Leftwich was good enough to start a game or two in the event of a Roethlisberger injury. It's not even a question Charlie Batch is approaching an age in which he can't be considered a multi-game starter. It's not out of the question both Leftwich and Batch will not be on the opening day roster.
Tones of Colbert's message today can be traced back to last season as well. He said when your team is 12-4 and lose in the playoffs your perspective is different than it is when you finish 8-8 and don't make the playoffs. Veterans such as Casey Hampton, James Harrison, Brett Keisel, Willie Colon and Troy Polamalu have either been hurt or have not performed at the level justifying the money they're scheduled to make.
As Red says, "get busy livin' or get busy dyin'." From a bottom line perspective, the Steelers paid out millions in guarantees last season to bring back a group of players who finished 8-8. They gave a multi-year extension to a coach who led the team to a season that was over after Week 15, and was flatlining as early as Week 15.
His message is fairly applicable to everyone.