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Willie Colon has cloudy future with Steelers

| Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Joe Linta, the agent for right tackle Willie Colon, said he doesn't believe his client will ever secure a long-term contract with the Steelers.

Colon, a restricted free agent who signed a $2.5 million tender for this season, is destined to play for another NFL team in another year or two, according to Linta.

The Steelers have two more days of offseason practices this week before breaking until the opening of training camp July 30.

"Willie obviously loves Pittsburgh. He would love staying there for the long-term. But as of right now, they have not made any decisions that they want him there long-term," Linta said.

A fourth-round draft pick in 2006, Colon has emerged as the Steelers' most dependable offensive lineman. He is the only blocker to start every game under coach Mike Tomlin — 54 consecutive starts, including the playoffs.

Colon's backup is veteran Jonathan Scott, who has 14 career starts with Buffalo and Detroit. This is Scott's first season with the Steelers, who drafted rookie tackle Chris Scott — no relation to Jonathan — this year in the fifth round.

"Jonathan's role will be very similar to what it was in Buffalo," said offensive line coach Sean Kugler, who was Jonathan Scott's position coach with the Bills. "Jonathan started some games at left tackle. He also started some games at right tackle. ... So having the value of being able to play both and be effective at both gives him a good chance."

It is Linta's contention that while he believes Colon ranks among the top right tackles in the NFL, the Steelers don't share his opinion in terms of presenting a contract in line with Colon's production level.

Linta said there haven't been any negotiations about a new contract for Colon -- and no talks are planned between Linta and negotiator Omar Khan.

"Omar and I have exchanged recipes over the year, but we've never talked about Willie's contract," Linta said.

Per club policy, the Steelers don't discuss the status of contract negotiations with their players.

"It's pretty obvious to people that know football that Willie, if he's not the best, he's among the top three right tackles in the league," Linta said.

As for the difference in opinion in Colon's value, Linta said he isn't upset with the Steelers, who can still sign Colon to a long-term deal.

"I'm not upset. Willie's not upset. That's the choice they made and I'm respectful of it, and so is Willie," Linta said. "They're not doing anything wrong. They're allowed to not call us."

Because the 2010 season is an uncapped year, there will be uncertainly in 2011 about Colon's status as a free agent.

If a new collective bargaining agreement isn't reached by March 1, Colon again will be a restricted free agent in 2011. However, if an agreement is reached at a later time, it isn't known if Colon will become an unrestricted free agent or retain his restricted status.

"The ball's in their court," Linta said of the Steelers. "The ball's only in Willie's court when he becomes a free agent."

Note: The Steelers signed veteran long snapper and linebacker Matt Stewart to a one-year contract and released long snapper Jared Retkofsky. Drafted as a linebacker by Atlanta in the fourth round in 2001, Stewart is a six-year veteran who played for Cleveland in 2005-07. He was in the Cardinals' and Cowboys' training camps the past two seasons.

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