Found February 10, 2013 on
SteelBlitz Steelers Blog:
According to Spotrac.com the Steelers have 51 players currently signed to deals for the 2013 season including those players signed to future/reserves contracts. The total amount owed to those 51 players is $135.8 million. According to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com the NFL salary cap number for 2013 will be $121 million.That puts the Steelers at $14.8 million over the cap.
Pittsburgh also has seven players that are exclusive rights free agents or restricted free agents. Those seven players that are restricted will return to the Steelers in 2013 because the team will be able to sign them to cap friendly deals. Now assuming that those seven contracts will amount to around $8 million the Steelers are now $22.8 million over the cap. That number will be closer to $22 million once the Steelers carry over from the 2012 season is accounted for. Each team can carry over unused cap space from the season before and the Steelers have a little over $750,000 to use in 2013.
To get under the cap the Steelers will be forced to once again restructure multiple contracts. Ben Roethlisberger, Lawrence Timmons and LaMarr Woodley are all almost guaranteed to have their contracts restructured or extended to help remove part of their cap hit from the 2013 season. The Steelers could also restructure/extend Heath Miller, although with his major knee injury that’s unlikely, or Antonio Brown.
Ike Taylor, Troy Polamalu and James Harrison also have large salary cap numbers for the 2013 season, but due to their age and length of contracts restructuring their contracts would be unwise. Therefore, the older players with large contracts, the three mentioned, as well as Brett Keisel, Willie Colon, and Ryan Clark all become cap casualty possibilities.
As of now there are very few people who think that Harrison and Colon won’t be cut this off-season. Harrison will be 35 next season and is battling nagging back injuries and Colon will turn 30 in April and hasn’t played a full season since 2009. Colon also doesn’t fit the mold of linemen the Steelers are now looking for under Todd Haley and new offensive line coach Jack Bicknell, Jr. In 2013, the Steelers are expected to implement more athletic linemen who can move in space rather than mauling linemen like Colon.
Keisel, Taylor, Clark and Polamalu will also be, or have been, evaluated by the team. As everyone following the Steelers this off-seasons knows there are some tough decisions coming and some of those decisions will be centered around these six veterans, Colon and Harrison included.
With Colon and Harrison expected to be cut the next most logical casualty candidate is Keisel. Cutting Keisel would save the team almost $3 million in 2013 and the Steelers can replace him with a former first round draft pick in Cameron Heyward. When you draft a player in the first round at some point you have to see what you have in them and Heyward hasn’t played bad as a back-up. 2013 will likely his first year as a starter opposite Ziggy Hood.
The next option that the Steelers could look at is the scenario of Keenan Lewis and Taylor. Lewis finally came into his own in 2011 and played even better in 2012, but he is now an unrestricted free agent and should be at the top of the Steelers priorities list this off-season. However, with the Steelers cap issues they may be forced to cut players to make room for Lewis. If they choose to go that route they could cut Taylor, who will be 33 next season, save themselves $2.5 million in the process and use that money to sign Lewis to a new deal.
The Steelers last two real options in terms of large cap savings in 2013 would be to cut Ryan Clark and/or Troy Polamalu. The issue with cutting either Polamalu or Clark, however, is that the Steelers don’t have a replacement in place like they do for Keisel, Taylor, Colon and Harrison, if you count Jason Worilds and Kelvin Beachum as a future starters. Therefore, cutting one or both would force the Steelers to make a move in free agency or take a safety early in the 2013 draft, which something they may do anyway with the aging Polamalu and Clark not likely to be around for many more seasons.
It’s unlikely that Polamalu or Clark will be cut, but with the Steelers cap issues it isn’t out of the picture. In fact, the Steelers could cut Polamalu and Clark then sign a top tier safety in free agency and draft a safety in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft and come away saving money in 2013. Now there’s a 99.9% chance that that isn’t going to happen, but it gives you an idea of how much money they have invested in the back half of their secondary.
Before the Steelers start cutting players they will likely approach them about taking pay cuts in 2013 and if they are willing to do so they will be retained. That goes for Harrison and Colon as well. However, it is unusual for players to take straight pay cuts to stay with a team especially if they think that they will be able to sign elsewhere if they are released. The difference with a restructured contract is that restructuring a contract takes part of the players salary for that given year and turns it into a signing bonus that they are given at the time of the restructure. That bonus is then prorated over the remaining life of the contract. In essence it moves the money around to lessen the current cap hit. A pay cut is simply the player agreeing to a lower salary and is a complete savings for the team.
The post Could Troy Polamalu Be Among the Steelers Cap Casualties this Off-Season? appeared first on SteelBlitz Steelers Blog.
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