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Steelers

Free agent LB Banta-Cain to visit Steelers

| Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Linebacker Tully Banta-Cain, an unrestricted free agent, will visit the Steelers with at least one contract offer already in his possession. But if the Steelers meet Banta-Cain's financial demands, there's a reasonable chance he could become the team's newest defensive player.

Banta-Cain received an offer from St. Louis when he visited the Rams over the weekend, but he elected to meet with other suitors. He was scheduled to visit San

Francisco on Monday and today and is expected to meet with Steelers officials Wednesday.

He's also received interest from Tampa Bay, Miami and Philadelphia, as well as New England, which selected him in the seventh round of the 2003 draft and where he spent his first four NFL seasons.

Banta-Cain is attractive to the Steelers because he's only 26, not to mention that he finished the season with 43 tackles and 5 1/2 sacks as a part-time starter and is versatile enough to play outside linebacker or defensive end in either a 3-4 or 4-3 formation.

"Tully's looking forward to the visit with the Steelers,'' agent James Sims said. "Our intention has always been to establish some familiarity. He started midway through the season (replacing injured starter Junior Seau), but he was a prominent player in that defense on rushing downs. He's a natural pass-rusher, but he also plays down, he plays up.

"It's just a matter of finding the right fit, right opportunity. The Steelers' tradition is one of the things he's excited about.''

The Steelers are considering other unrestricted free agents, including their own. Safety Tyrone Carter plans to visit other teams but wants to re-sign with the Steelers, who contacted him before the start of free agency.

"It's a good fit for both sides," agent Jack Bechta said of Carter, who had a base salary of $625,000 in 2006.

Also yesterday, the Steelers exercised their option on a $1.4 million bonus for cornerback Ike Taylor that extends his contract an additional year through 2010.

Taylor signed a four-year extension worth $5.25 million per year before the start of last season. He's also due to receive a $300,000 roster bonus at the end of training camp.

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