Vincent likely done with Steelers
By Jerry DiPaola
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Friday, January 28, 2005

Steelers unrestricted free agent Keydrick Vincent, who started 27 games at left and right guard the past two seasons, met with coach Bill Cowher this week and became convinced that he has played his last game in Pittsburgh.
"Basically, he told me good luck with everything, a lot of (teams) will be interested in me and Kendall Simmons is going to be the starting right guard next season," Vincent said.

"I thanked him and said, 'I guess it's time for me to see if I can play for another team.'

"It hurts, but Kendall is their guy. I didn't want it to be that way, but, evidently, they don't have plans for me."

Simmons' agent, Kenny Zuckerman, has had preliminary discussions with Steelers officials, and he came away with the same feeling.

"They said they probably aren't going to bring him back," Zuckerman said. "I don't think they are going to be able to afford him."

Vincent, who joined the Steelers as an undrafted rookie in 2001, moved into the starting lineup in August, when Simmons suffered a season-ending knee injury. The loss of Simmons, the Steelers' 2002 first-round draft pick, was expected to be a damaging blow to the offensive line, but Vincent stepped in and helped the team finish second in the NFL in average rushing yards per game (154).

Vincent also started nine games in 2003, when four-time Pro Bowl left guard Alan Faneca moved to left tackle for Marvel Smith, who had a neck injury.

Vincent, 6-foot-5, 325 pounds, said he was hoping to get an opportunity to compete for a starting job with the Steelers.

"I like a challenge," he said. "I think a lot of people think it was a fluke (that he played well for the Steelers). I don't think it's a fluke. I think I'm the real deal.

"I want to feel like a first-round pick. If I get enough money, people will think of me that way. I want to feel wanted."

Zuckerman, who is attending Senior Bowl practice in Mobile, Ala., said he has heard through third-party sources that Vincent may be one of the top guards in free agency, along with Joe Andruzzi of the New England Patriots and Marco Rivera of the Green Bay Packers. Teams are not permitted to contact players directly until the free agency signing period begins March 2.

Vincent, who will return to his home in Bartow, Fla., next week, said the Steelers' loss to the Patriots in the AFC Championship game was a case of mistakes caused by nervousness.

"A lot of people got caught up in the moment," he said. "Guys were nervous. People didn't bring their A game, and it showed."

He said he enjoyed his time in Pittsburgh.

"They were the team that gave me the chance to get to where I'm at," he said.