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The Never Ending Question of the Steelers Offensive Line

A week or so ago, cgolden discussed the bevy of Steelers players that will be free agents at the end of the 2008 season.That list includes our most proven and capable offensive lineman, Marvel Smith. That sound familiar? It should, as Ed Bouchette recently wrote, because we were in the exact same situation last offseason when dealing with the Alan Faneca contract situation.

Like they did with Faneca last year, the Steelers have not offered an extension to Marvel Smith, who will turn 30 in a couple of months.

"To me, if it's going to happen, it's going to happen," said Smith, who has been a starter since he was the team's second-round draft choice in 2000. "It's not something I can worry about, for the most part. I love football. Any opportunity I get to play, whether it's in the offseason or not, that's what I plan on doing."

Smith, who doesn't seem to have any plans to hold-out or make a big fuss of his contract situation, has expressed his desire to be in Pittsburgh however.

"Yeah, it's frustrating, but I deal with it differently," Smith said, comparing his situation to Faneca's last year. "If I can't control it, I don't worry about it. It's not like I can give myself a contract..."


"I love Pittsburgh. I miss Pittsburgh when I'm not here in the offseason. It took a while to get used to Pittsburgh, coming from California, but now I love it."


Hmm. I'd have to go through the archives, but I can't seem to recall many of us thinking Smith would be re-upped. The Steelers just don't hand out big contracts to guys in their 30s, particularly ones with potentially tricky back issues. However, if Marvel Smith is not in the mix in 2009 and beyond, what would our situation at the tackle position be?

Well, at least in 2009, it might be dicey. Let's say Max Starks is signed to a long-term deal. That would give us him, then one giant question mark at the other tackle slot. Will Tony Hills be far enough along to be dependable? What about Jason Capizzi? If Max Starks has a good camp and season, and if he and Smith stay healthy, Willie Colon could potentially go most if not all of 2008 having not played any tackle. Would we dare slide him back out there again in 2009?

The problem is this team is close to being set for multiple Super Bowl runs. We're not there -quite- yet, but the dilemma is that our defense may be in the best shape to contend in 2008-2010, while our offense may need several years to stabilize the offensive line situation, while breaking in Mendenhall and Limas Sweed.

So, what do you think? Should we re-sign Marvel Smith? If not, sell me on a long-term plan that does not include him. I definitely agree in principal with the organization's decision not to franchise players, but it sure seems like 2009 might be a good time to potentially franchise Marvel Smith for a year.