Notes: Steelers feel good about keeping Wallace; Carrier landing; Polian gives Bengals good odds


Mark Carrier

Updated: 5:40 p.m.

INDIANAPOLIS — In his podium appearance Thursday, Steelers football boss Kevin Colbert insisted Pittsburgh is confident it will keep restricted free agent wide receiver Mike Wallace in an effort to support Pro Bowl quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

Colbert said at the very least the club would offer Wallace a one-year deal that would net first-round compensation if it didn't match and left open the possibility the Steelers would put a franchise tag on him. The Bengals are seeking a running mate for Pro Bowl rookie A.J. Green at wide receiver, but with Green looking at franchise numbers himself after the 2013 season, Cincinnati isn't going to engage in that kind of mega deal for a wideout.

The Bengals could find their No. 2 receiver in the first couple rounds of the April draft while keeping the decks clear at that spot in the anticipation of Green's big deal.

Colbert admitted he wouldn't be surprised if a team signed Wallace to an offer sheet in exchange for a first-rounder, but also said he feels like Wallace wants to stay a Steeler.

"We have the ultimate decision. It's not like a player that's an unrestricted free agent," Colbert said of their right to match. "Ultimately it will be our decision.

"We're going to do everything we can to make sure Mike Wallace remains a Pittsburgh Steeler and I think that's Mike's belief as well. Usually when you have two parties that share the same goal, it's usually easier to achieve that goal."

But with the Steelers, Bengals and the other 30 teams waiting for an official salary cap number for 2012 (the estimate is about the same last year at $120 million), Colbert is hesitant to say much else except that the Steelers are going to keep going with their massive project of restructuring and terminating deals in order to pare down a huge number from last year's uncapped year.

Colbert also admitted that the emergence of Wallace, a third-rounder in 2009, and Antonio Brown, a sixth-round punt returner whose deal is up next year, as Pro Bowlers was a complete surprise, as is the rise of 2010 third-round receiver Emmanuel Sanders, also up in 2013.

"Trust me, there was no design to drafting those three receivers when we did," Colbert said. "When you have a great quarterback like we have, the more great players you can get around him the better your chances."

CARRIER LANDING: New Bengals secondary coach Mark Carrier is expected here over the weekend to break down the defensive backs, but there are people here already that know his work.

Bill Tobin, the Bengals southeast scout, was the Bears draft boss in 1990 when he picked Carrier, a USC safety, sixth in the first round.

"Smart and hit the snot out of you; exactly what you want in an NFL safety," Tobin said. "I think it was an excellent hire."

Vinny Cerrato, the Redskins former long-time personnel man, signed Carrier to play his final season in 2000. When Carrier was at Notre Dame, Cerrato also recruited him but remembers Carrier deciding to stay close to home to be near his ailing father.

"Class guy with a capital C," said Cerrato, now a talk show host for Baltimore's ESPN radio spot at 105.7 FM. "Great leader. Great locker room guy. Passionate about football. Marvin (Lewis) got a good one."

Cerrato remembers accompanying Carrier to New York to appeal his last suspension for spearing. It failed.

"That's how he played the game," Cerrato said. "Aggressively and passionately."

The man that Carrier replaced, Kevin Coyle, is the defensive coordinator for Dolphins first-year head coach Joe Philbin. Philbin used almost the same words to describe Coyle after his appearance before the media Thursday.

"He's an excellent leader. An excellent coach, a passionate coach," Philbin said. "He's been a coordinator in college, I want to say for 15 years, that's called a lot of games and now with 11 years of pro experience with Dick LeBeau, (Mike) Zimmer, a lot of good coaches. I'm ecstatic he's on the staff."

Zimmer also interviewed for the Dolphins job and if he got it, Coyle would have most likely succeeded him as the Bengals defensive coordinator.

POLIAN TAKE: Former Colts president Bill Polian, an old school exec who has been an unabashed Mike Brown admirer during his stops in Buffalo, Carolina and Indy, thinks the Bengals have a good shot at cashing on a cornerback, running back or guard at 17 and 21 given this crop.

"There are positions of scarcity in any given draft, but you hit on three where there are players," Polian said. "Corner and running back, there are players, and guards, you can always get that."

Unfortunately it's at about that point the no-brainer first-rounders start to run out. And Polian offered some sobering numbers off his study of the last 20 years of the draft.

"The best drafters bat .540, .555," said Polian, who said the same odds exist in the first round. "It's not an exact science … if you've got Draft A in a given year, it may contain 24 first-round picks. That would be an anomaly, but it could happen. Draft B could contain 15, Draft C could contain 10. The miss factor is all the same because what you can't predict is what's in here (heart)."

But Polian has faith in Brown and Lewis.

"Not all 32 teams are looking for the same players. Say it's the average draft and there are 20 first-round picks," Polian said. "If you're down in that fourth quadrant, you still may get a first-round player because other people may miss along the way. You may feel, 'This player is a first-round player for me.' Other teams may say he's not.

"Marvin knows what he's looking for. He knows what it takes to help his team. Mike knows over time what a first-round player looks like probably better than anybody because he's got such a long history. The odds are pretty good that you can do well."

Polian points to his own selection of Pro Bowl wide receiver Reggie Wayne at No. 31.

Polian, a former exec of the year a few times, wouldn't mind giving the award to Brown for 2011.

"I would think that's a good choice," Polian said. "They did a hell of a job."

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