Found February 22, 2013 on SteelBlitz Steelers Blog:
The NFL salary cap projected number early this off-season was $121 million. That number was expected to be very close to the final number although it was just a projection, but no one expected a large increase in salary cap room. However, according to Pro Football Talk there are now rumblings that the cap number for 2013 could exceed $122 million. That’s a potential difference of over one million dollars for each team. Now one million may not seem like a big difference, but it could end up making a huge difference for the Steelers. Pittsburgh is currently in a bit of a mess in terms of the salary cap and they will have to make some tough decisions to get under the cap by March 13th. That extra money will help them do just that. An extra million-plus could also be the difference between the Steelers being able to re-sign Keenan Lewis. Lewis, a 2009 third round pick, really came into his own during the 2012 season. So much so that when Seattle Seahawks corner Richard Sherman was asked who he thought was the best corner in the league he mentioned Lewis’ name in the group. Last season Lewis played on a one year contract that he was tendered as a restricted free agent last off-season. This year Lewis is set to hit the open market and the Steelers are hoping to keep him around on a long-term contract. If another team gives Lewis an insane offer it could end the Steelers hopes of re-signing him, but they will be willing to match any fair offers he receives on the open market. Many fans wonder why the Steelers aren’t already discussing a new contract with Lewis. The reason was already given by Steelers GM Kevin Colbert. He said that in the past when they had discussed new deals with players before they hit the open market that those players then used that number as a starting point in other negotiations. That meant if the Steelers ended up matching an offer it was either the offer they had made of a higher one. Now they will let their unrestricted free agents hit the open market and try and match or exceed the offers they get from other teams. If Lewis doesn’t receive any outrageous offers this off-season the Steelers will be a major player in signing him. That’s where the extra million dollars comes in. Lewis may be looking for a contract in the range of $6 million annually. A good contract for both sides would be around five years and 30 million with around 10 to 15 million guaranteed. That would be a very nice deal for Lewis and he shouldn’t get much more than that on the open market, but you never know. The limit for the Steelers and Lewis will probably be around five years $40 million with $20 million guaranteed. Now that guaranteed money usually comes mainly from the players signing bonus. Say the Steelers offer Lewis a $10 million signing bonus. Now even though he gets that money upfront not all of that money goes against the cap in 2013. Instead it is prorated over the life of the contract so in that case the $10 million would count $2 million against the cap in each of the five years. Therefore, an extra million dollars of cap room this season will allow the Steelers to increase that signing bonus amount by $1 million times the life of the contract. That extra flexibility in cap space may turn out to be the difference between re-signing Lewis and letting him walk in free agency. For the Steelers Lewis should be their top priority this off-season even if re-signing him means letting go of a veteran. The Steelers need to be more concerned with keeping their up-and-coming players than veterans that are in the last year or two of their careers. It may sound harsh, but the NFL is a business and a budding star is worth more than a veteran playing in what may be their last season. If the Steelers can re-sign Lewis to a long-term deal they will add him to the group that already contains Ike Taylor, Curtis Brown, DeMarcus Van ****, and Josh Victorian. That group of corners, with Lewis, is full of young talent and potential. In fact, if Lewis re-signs with the team corner may be the deepest and arguably best position on the Steelers roster heading into the 2013 season. The post Change in NFL Salary Cap may be Enough to Allow Steelers to Re-Sign Keenan Lewis appeared first on SteelBlitz Steelers Blog.
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