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Three more for the 3-4

February 25, 2010 - Buck Frank

The Steelers signed free agent-to-be nose tackle Casey Hampton to a three-year contract on Thursday, which means two things:

1. The aging defensive line just got older.

2. The Steelers have committed themselves to a 3-4 defense for at least another three seasons.

Hampton is one of only a handful of really good nose tackles throughout the league, so to sign him, the Steelers first had to figure on which direction they were headed defensively. They apparently aren't looking to change much.

Even though recent first-round draft picks Lawrence Timmons and Ziggy Hood may be better suited for a 4-3 defense, the Steelers are committing themselves to following the strengths of guys like Hampton, James Harrison and Aaron Smith, who are more of 3-4 players.

The Steelers must figure they can grab at least one more championship with these guys in the next three years, especially if they can get a healthy Troy Polamalu back, sign Ryan Clark and pluck a few stars from the draft the next couple of seasons.

Also, the Steelers placed the franchise tag on Jeff Reed on Thursday to keep him for at least another season. This became a slam-dunk decision after the Seattle Seahawks did the same to a much lesser kicker, Olindo Mare, on Wednesday.

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