FANECA WANTS OUT
In this regard, Faneca is overlooking the franchise tag, which would allow the team to limit his movement in free agency via the extension of an offer equivalent to either the average of the five highest-paid players at the position or to 120 percent of his 2007 cap number, whichever is greater.
It's possible that the Steelers will apply the tag to Faneca and then trade him. It's also possible that the Steelers will trade him before the 2007 trading deadline. Already, there are rumblings in league circles of a possible deal that would send Faneca to Arizona.
It's an obvious potential destination. The Cardinals need help on the offensive line. Former Steelers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt and offensive line coach Russ Grimm already work there.
But whoever gets Faneca had better be ready to cough up at least a seven-year, $49 million deal, with $18 million or so of it guaranteed. That's the current high water mark, and amounts like that have been paid to lesser players.
And, clearly, Faneca's dissatisfaction is solely about the money. Or, specifically, the lack thereof that the Steelers are offering. Consider these quotes that he gave to Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
"You go somewhere, you've been here for nine years; to do what I've done to help this team out. The things I've done for this team . . . and the offer I get is pretty much a non-offer. What am I to think? What are the guys in this room to think? If they can do it to me and everybody else and let Joey [Porter] go and do things like that, what does that say to the rest of the guys?
"I've been asking since February, to trade me, to let me go. I've done my piece, I've done my time, I've done everything I can for this organization.
"I lived and breathed Steelers football for nine years and gave them everything I had, helped them win a Super Bowl. In my mind, I've earned the right to be treated fairly. To make me go out there this year, play football with no security . . . for what I've done for this organization, in my mind is not right."
The bottom line, then, is that Faneca wants protection against suffering a serious injury in 2007, which would then limit his market value in 2008. So he wants his big payday now, not after his contract expires.
But it's the Steelers' prerogative, in our view, to decide to simply finish out the contract and go from there. They're not required to sign him to a new deal. They're not obligated to pay him as much money as other players are getting elsewhere.
Should he be surprised by the fact that the Steelers aren't inclined to put too much cap space into one player? They've never done it.
And if Faneca wants sympathy for the fact that he has no security beyond 2007, he'll find none here. That's the system. You finish your contract, and then you become a free agent. The team has no obligation to safeguard him or any other player against the possibility of his future value being diminished by an injury suffered in the final year of his deal. Every year, players risk getting hurt in the season before they hit the market; the fact that Faneca is a Pro Bowler and owns a Super Bowl ring does not exempt him from that. Heck, even Peyton Manning had to complete his contract with the Colts in one piece before getting a new one.
So Faneca will participate in the mandatory minicamp, leave town, and return for training camp. And he likely will pout and sulk and act like a baby. If he does, shame on him. Plenty of better players have been in the same boat, and not a peep has ever been heard from any of them.