Originally created 04/28/04

Maddox meets with Steelers; won't say what took place



PITTSBURGH -- An angered Tommy Maddox met Tuesday with Steelers coach Bill Cowher to discuss the team's use of a first-round draft pick on quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

Maddox, Pittsburgh's starting quarterback for the past two seasons, left the Steelers' training complex without talking to reporters and there was no word on what they discussed.

The meeting came three days after the Steelers added Roethlisberger, the only quarterback they have drafted on the first round since 1981. Roethlisberger is expected to become the starter by the 2005 season.

Maddox initially planned to talk to Cowher on Monday, but told his agent he was too upset to meet then. He also wanted to talk to Steelers chairman Dan Rooney or president Art Rooney II about his contract situation, but it is believed Tuesday's meeting was only with Cowher.

Maddox, the 2002 NFL comeback player of the year, is upset because the Steelers indicated to him before the draft they would choose a right tackle and not a quarterback.

Maddox also expected the team would renegotiate his $750,000 salary - currently the lowest for an NFL veteran starting quarterback, but now realizes the addition of Roethlisberger may change that.

With the Steelers already close to the NFL's salary cap and Roethlisberger all but certain to get the richest rookie contract in their history, it is unlikely they can pay Maddox more money.

For now, the Steelers plan to go into the season with Maddox as the starter, though Cowher has not ruled out Roethlisberger starting sometime this season. However, some scouts expect Roethlisberger may take longer to become a starter than either the Giants' Eli Manning or the Chargers' Philip Rivers, the quarterbacks drafted ahead of him.

Despite Maddox's unhappiness, Cowher said he doesn't expect Roethlisberger's presence to affect how Maddox plays or practices. Wide receiver Plaxico Burress also expects Maddox to respond to the competition.

"I've been playing with him for two years now and I pretty much know he'll step up and defend his position," Burress said.

The Steelers have not said what they would do if Maddox, who will be 33 in September, asks to be released to pursue a job with another team. With nearly every NFL team now set at quarterback in advance of training camp, Maddox may not be able to find a team that would let him compete to start.

Even if the Maddox goes into the Steelers' training camp in late July as the starter, Cowher will not promise there won't be a training camp competition.

"I can't tell you right now how that's going to unfold," Cowher said. "I just know that I'm not going to sit here and say we're not going to do something. I'd like to stay open-minded about it and let it play out.

"He (is our incumbent starter; I'm not saying things can't change."

Maddox unexpectedly beat out Kordell Stewart to become the Steelers' starter three games into the 2002 season - 10 years after he was first drafted by Denver - and has held the job since.

Maddox led the Steelers to a 10-5-1 record and the second round of the playoffs that season, throwing for 2,836 yards, 20 touchdowns and 16 interceptions in 13 games. Without the support of an effective running game, Maddox's production dropped last season as the Steelers slumped to a 6-10 record, even though his 3,414 yards passing were the second most in team history.