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Steelers About To Sign Joel Steed

February 18, 1998

PITTSBURGH (AP) _ The Pittsburgh Steelers and free-agent Joel Steed have a agreed to a club-record four-year, $17 million contract, with the star nose tackle expected to sign the deal today.

``He is probably the best nose guard in the NFL,″ Steelers defensive coordinator Jim Haslett said. ``When you sit back and go through the films, it is evident he would be hard to replace if you lost him.″

``He is just a force in the middle. Any time you have two guys needing to know where he is at, it keeps other guys free.″

In the free-agent market, re-signing Steed was the Steelers’ top priority. They even relinquished wide receiver Yancey Thigpen, who signed a five-year, $21 million contract with the Tennessee Oilers.

The Carolina Panthers entertained Steed on Monday, but he went home to Atlanta without spending the night.

``The Steelers stepped up,″ said Steed’s agent, Glenn Mahone. ``They came to the market.″

The Steelers’ second-highest-paid player is Jerome Bettis, who signed a four-year, $14.4 million contract last year.

Steed might prove to be a bargain for Pittsburgh after Minnesota’s John Randle signed Tuesday for $32.5 million over five years.

One of the NFL’s most sought-after defensive linemen, Steed made $1.2 million last year. Since becoming a free agent, he has had offers from Kansas City, Washington, Chicago, Jacksonville, Carolina, Detroit and the New York Jets.

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