'Big Snack' could be a big problem

The words "slap in my face" seem to be a popular catchphrase for NFL defensive tackles.

lastnameHamptonEarlier this week, Vince Wilfork of the New England Patriots said it. Friday, it was Casey Hampton's turn.

The Pro Bowl nose tackle told Scott Brown of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that it would be a "slap in my face" for the Pittsburgh Steelers to franchise him. Hampton also added "it will be a problem" if that's the case.

But nearly every indication in Pittsburgh is that the Steelers will use the franchise tag on Hampton, 32, instead of giving him a long-term deal. Pittsburgh does not have a suitable replacement at nose tackle for Hampton, and the team rarely gives out long-term extensions for someone Hampton's age.

Hampton's comments will surely get back to Pittsburgh's brass, and it will be interesting to see if it has any impact on the team's decision this offseason. Barring a major and unexpected move in free agency or the draft, the Steelers need Hampton to anchor the middle of their defense.

And what kind of "problem" will Hampton cause if he's franchised? Would he sit out of training camp? Would Hampton miss games next season?

Stay tuned as this storyline continues to develop.