Tim Benz: What Steelers fans should like, hate, ignore about Kevin Colbert’s comments | TribLIVE.com
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Tim Benz

Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert covered a lot of ground Wednesday at UPMC Rooney Sports Complex on the South Side.

Not as much ground as was covered by Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown during their years in Black and Gold. But a lot nonetheless.

It appears neither will be covering any additional ground in Pittsburgh again.

Unless they come back as visiting players.

During a 35-minute Q&A session, Colbert said Bell won’t get any type of tag and will become a free agent. He said the Steelers will try to trade Antonio Brown, but they won’t do so unless the return is worthy.

He also stood by his quarterback, put his kicker on notice and left some questions open regarding a former first-round draft choice.

So let’s go line-by-line through the most critical items of what Colbert discussed Wednesday — via the reporting of Tribune-Review Steelers beat reporter Joe Rutter — and try to peel back the layers to what should really matter to Steelers fans.

Le’Veon Bell

The most important development of the day is that Colbert said the Steelers wouldn’t place a franchise tag or transition tag on their former All-Pro running back.

The Steelers must’ve given up—or lost—the quest to get the transition tag set at $9.5 million as opposed to $14.5 million because Colbert kept referencing the higher number throughout his comments.

Regardless of cost — whether it’s $14.5 million or $14.50 in pocket change — this is the right move. As we’ve said before, turning Bell loose into unrestricted free agency is the right call at this point.

The permutations and unknowns of tagging a player, waiting for offer sheets, trying to work out trades and involving third-party teams was too cumbersome. Also, imagine dealing with potential repercussions if the Steelers had to keep Bell or tried trading him to a destination he didn’t like.

I didn’t want an iota of free-agency planning taken up by the prospect of waiting on any sort of decision making by Bell. It’s smarter to allow that $14.5 million to be freed up and put to use elsewhere.

The hassles and uncertainty of waiting out a tag process with Bell were too risky and may not have resulted in better compensation than the 2020 third-round pick they are assured of now, anyway.

Antonio Brown

Colbert wanted to make it clear that, despite how some interpreted the results of Art Rooney II’s meeting with Antonio Brown this week, a trade of the disgruntled wide receiver is far from a fait accompli.

If you are like me and you want A.B. gone regardless of the value in return, don’t worry. These quotes are just Colbert making sure other general managers know they aren’t going dumpster-diving here. He’s just trying to prime the pump on the trade market.

Brown will be gone by the start of the season. Keep in mind, this is the same general manager who tried to make all of us think Martavis Bryant was going to be back in Pittsburgh in 2018.

How did that turn out?

I can’t see a scenario where Ben Roethlisberger and Mike Tomlin ever have to work with Antonio Brown again.

From a talent standpoint, that’s tragic. From a functionality point of view in the locker room, it’s what is best for business.

Even if that means business will be “boomin’” elsewhere in 2019. And beyond.

Ben Roethlisberger

Colbert adamantly stated that Ben Roethlisberger is a good leader in the locker room.

Responding to concerns that Roethlisberger airs out his teammates in the media too often, Colbert went on to say, “He can call me out.”

Come to think of it, Kevin, he already did. Remember how he reacted to the drafting of Mason Rudolph last spring?

I’ve long been of the opinion that the criticism of Roethlisberger in the Brown matter has been blown out of proportion. It’s blame-shifting.

True. Roethlisberger did a lousy job in the wake of the Denver loss by calling out other players without focusing blame on himself enough.

Typically, in public anyway, he doesn’t do that. Unless he was talking about Todd Haley. Then all bets were off.

Unfortunately for Roethlisberger, perception is reality. And based on the amount of national conversation about this side topic, he may want to limit any criticism of other players—warranted or not.

And if he can’t help himself on his own radio show, maybe he shouldn’t do the radio show.

Bud and Boz

Two more Killer B’s came up in conversation as well.

As mentioned in our Tuesday podcast with Jordan Berry, he seems to think Boswell’s problems last year were mental, not mechanical.

Frankly, I don’t know what’s worse.

While I’m glad competition is coming for the placekicker’s job, I’d rather see the Steelers release Boswell and move on.

Regarding Dupree, he’s average, at best. A looming $9.2 million price tag on the fifth-year option is well above that. The Steelers are best-served to fulfill that commitment and move on after 2019 unless a light finally comes on for Dupree and he lives up to his potential consistently.

If that happens, reward him and sign him in the offseason.

I’ll be over here not holding my breath.

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