Jeff Reed: Franchise Tag Buys Steelers Time for Extension Talks

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Jeff Reed: Franchise Tag Buys Steelers Time for Extension Talks
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Don't kid yourself. As good as Jeff Reed is, there isn't a team in the NFL that is going to offer up two first-rounders for him.

And don't kid yourself about this either: The Steelers are not going to give Reed a deal anywhere close to the four year, $16 million one Sebastian Janikowski just picked up from the Oakland Raiders (who continue to defy logic at every turn).

The Steelers bought themselves time to negotiate a long-term deal with their star kicker when they placed the franchise tag on him today.

Reed will now make around $2.4 million in 2010 if the Steelers fail to negotiate a long deal.

That figure might end up being a bargain.

There are a number of obstacles facing the Steelers when it comes to signing Reed long-term.

Janikowski's deal sets a new, and ridiculously high, bar for kickers. Where it becomes trouble for the Steelers isn't so much the money itself as it is the money compared to the results.

Janikowski isn't as accurate as Reed (78.4 percent career vs. 83.3 percent). That's the big problem.

If the Raiders are going to pay Janikowski $4 million a year for his accuracy, the Steelers will likely be asked to pay more for Reed's.

No kicker, in my opinion—and with apologies to several great kickers out there (including Reed)—is worth $4 million a year, let alone more. Kickers are worth probably a maximum of $2 million per season.

That's not to say they aren't important, but in proportion to other positions, they just don't have the same value.

Unfortunately, the Raiders did the deal. Now everyone will suffer the repercussions.

The Steelers are still going to sit with Reed's agent, who has already publicly referred to the Janikowski deal in reference to the kind of contract he wants for his client. The Steelers won't do that deal, but if Reed is willing the meet the Steelers somewhere in the middle, something might get done.

Reed is a valuable piece of the puzzle for Pittsburgh. He's mastered the strange and difficult conditions at Heinz Field, and he's one of the best clutch kickers in the NFL. The Steelers struggled before Reed to find someone who could kick at home.

The memory of that struggle might lead the Steelers to be a little more generous to someone who has spent eight years toiling for them.

They also might let Reed walk next season.

The fact that they used the valuable franchise tag on a kicker tells me that the Steelers see Reed as a long-term piece. The team rarely tags someone they do not sign to a long term contract, so I foresee something getting done.

I'd say four years at around $2.5 million might do it.

Most importantly, the Steelers made sure Reed will be with the team for another year, at least. That's a great way to start.

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