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Steelers

Bettis says deal is almost done

Jerry DiPaola
| Thursday, March 1, 2001

Jerome Bettis said Wednesday that he is closer to a contract agreement with the Steelers than he was earlier in the week.

'We're getting closer and closer every day,' he said.

Bettis, who can become a free agent Friday, said the talks between Steelers vice president Art Rooney II and Bettis' agent, Lamont Smith, go 'up and down,' but they never get contentious. The Steelers, though, do not plan any further negotiating, having reached a comfort level with their offer to Bettis.

Bettis does not appear to have any problem with that stance.

Fiala offered contract
Note: The Steelers offered backup linebacker John Fiala, a restricted free agent, a one-year, $512,000 contract. Any team that signs Fiala would owe the Steelers a sixth-round draft choice, but the Steelers can match any offer.
'Both sides have been amenable to working it out and not looking at everything, and getting upset at the situation,' Bettis said. 'We've both been looking at things objectively, with concerns of the parties in mind. I think that's going to make a deal happen.'

Bettis has repeated numerous times that he doesn't want to go on the open market.

'As the deadline approaches, both sides are conscious of that and we're doing everything to make it happen. Both sides are giving and that's what creates a great situation,' Bettis said.

'We definitely want it to be done by the end of the week so the Steelers can know where they are in terms of their financial situation, in terms of dealing with the salary cap. And also, from my side, we want to know what's going on, whether or not I need to get my travel bag ready.'

Bettis didn't want to get specific about the talks, but he said that he wants this to be his final NFL contract.

'No doubt about it,' he said. 'This is it for me. After this, it's off into the sunset. The great part about it is if the deal gets done, I'm a Steeler for life. That's what I'm looking forward to.'

Bettis, who will be entering his ninth season, didn't put a definite timetable on how long he wants to play. Earlier this week, he said he is hoping to sign for longer than four years.

'I probably could play five more. Would I want to• Who knows?' he said. 'After two or three years, you start taking it year by year.

'I like to think I can. My body has held up this long. A lot of critics said my body would have been beat up by the number of carries. But a lot of people don't realize I left school (Notre Dame) early and didn't get a lot of carries in college. I feel real good.'

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