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Steelers want to be sustainable, but numbers make it tough

Kevin Colbert AP

The Steelers went through a dramatic purge last year, having the get rid of older starters just to comply with the salary cap.

Things are going to be tight again this year, which has already raised the specter of more cuts, but general manager Kevin Colbert said the challenge is keeping the team sustainable.

“Last year, we let go of significant players,” Colbert told the NFL Network’s Albert Breer. “This year, that may or may not be the case. We never want to be in a position where we have to gut the team. We want to compete every year. And this year, we weren’t able to. We didn’t get in the playoffs. And that was a failure.

“But we want to avoid being in a position where we make that one-year, all-in run, then disappear.”

Last year, they cut James Farrior, Hines Ward, Aaron Smith and Chris Kemoeatu, and they all retired. This year, they have $100 million worth of a projected $121 salary cap invested in 10 players, which could make for some tough decisions.

Linebacker James Harrison’s already put out word he’s not taking a pay cut. And while safety Troy Polamalu might have more good football left in him, he didn’t play last season to a level worth a $10 million number.

They’re not the only ones in this situation, but they have to deal with a top-heavy roster and a flat cap.

“We’ve always tried to do things that made sense for the current year, but also do things that wouldn’t strangle you financially in the future,” Colbert said. “It’s no different this time. We’re getting in compliance. We’re gonna have to have some terminations, some extensions, some restructurings. Figuring out the combination of all that, that’s what we’re doing now. We don’t have to be compliant until March 12, so we have some time.”

With a significant free agent list (Mike Wallace, Rashard Mendenhall, Casey Hampton, Keenan Lewis), and upgrades needed, the Steelers need to count on their homegrown players to step into larger roles if they are to improve on last year’s record.

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51 Responses to “Steelers want to be sustainable, but numbers make it tough”
  1. nickster31 says: Feb 14, 2013 3:55 PM

    The ONLY player on the list of free agents that the Steelers are interested in keeping is Keenan Lewis.

    Steelers haters are going to climb out of the wood work on this article, and feel free.

    Cut James Harrison and Willie Colon, and that will clear up almost enough cap space to put them at even for the year.

    Simple restructures to Timmons, Woodley, Brown and Miller will clear up another $10 million.

    Re-sign Ben (3 years remaining), Polamalu (2 years remaining), Ryan Clark (1 year remaining) and Brett Keisel (1 year remaining), to small salary contracts this year, with signing bonus that will be spread over 3-4 years, until the new TV money show up and they will have money to sign all of their free agents they choose to.

    I know Steelers haters don’t want to hear this, but things aren’t as bad as everyone makes them out to be.

  2. toybkshr says: Feb 14, 2013 3:57 PM

    I think they are in for another off year

  3. Deb says: Feb 14, 2013 3:58 PM

    Harrison’s agent said he’s not taking a pay cut. That doesn’t mean it won’t happen. James has struggled with injuries, will turn 35 in May, and is something of a flag magnet. Like Ward, he’ll be unlikely to find any takers if the Steelers cut him. He wants to keep playing, so he’ll probably compromise–if an offer is made. His best protection against being cut is that we don’t have a comparable talent coming up behind him. But that doesn’t mean he’s Teflon.

    My concern is Troy. When he’s 100 percent, he’s still a brilliant player. But how much can you afford to spend on someone who’s only 100 percent about 10 percent of the time?

  4. bossaliniee says: Feb 14, 2013 4:15 PM

    They had a nice run, it’s over.

  5. wolverine69 says: Feb 14, 2013 4:32 PM

    Nicksters31…your right on a lot of front. with a few exceptions..
    1. Keisel can be cut also… his production was rookish at best, time to let young lions step up.
    2. keenan should have been resigned last year at a much cheaper rate now he’ll get more than steelers SHOULD PAY…in the open market.
    3. Ben need to rectrcture and take a pay less he can throw the ball to himself. And he needs to be in playing shape, 1st one in ,last one to leave…he’s on the hot seat in my book.
    4. foote can go also, time to let the draft speak for itself since they WON’T bring in free agents.

  6. bobzilla1001 says: Feb 14, 2013 4:36 PM

    The disheartening thing about this past season is that the Steelers were 8-8 against the weakest schedule in the league.
    They played a similarly soft schedule in 2011, but with one major difference: They were able to beat the bad teams while losing to the better teams enroute to a 12-4 record.
    Losing to the Raiders, Titans, Chargers and Browns, no matter the injuries, was alarming and suggests to me that mediocre coaching from the top man was partially to blame.
    Against a tougher schedule, that 8-8 record might’ve been closer to 4-12.

  7. hanspard says: Feb 14, 2013 4:42 PM

    Troy Palamalu and Darren McFadden must be related somehow. They got the same brilliant, but fragile gene.

  8. Nofoolnodrool says: Feb 14, 2013 4:46 PM

    The losses Bobzilla is harping on we’re not beat downs they were close if I am not mistaken. We could very easily have been 10-6 with some breaks we got in previous years so to get all negative is a bit harsh in my mind. No doubt this years draft will be one of the most important in recent memory….end of the world no .

  9. ravenator says: Feb 14, 2013 5:22 PM

    Hahaha, this team is so far away from being competitive. What a pathetic job by their awful GM

  10. Nofoolnodrool says: Feb 14, 2013 5:35 PM

    Hahaha, this team is so far away from being competitive. What a pathetic job by their awful GM

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    Our gm wouldn’t tolerate a murderer or support a statue for him so I guess he is ok by Pittsburgh standards.

  11. rottenbellybutton says: Feb 14, 2013 5:36 PM

    Still can’t believe the price they’re paying for Roethlisberger. What’s more laughable, the ridiculous amount of cash they throw at him or the steeler fans who think he deserves it? I hope they give him a 5 year extension and he’s able to play till he’s 40. Even with a 4-12 record steeler fans would make excuses for him and welcome him back with open arms. I see why bobzilla gets furious with this overrated diva.

  12. Nofoolnodrool says: Feb 14, 2013 5:37 PM

    Hahaha, this team is so far away from being competitive. What a pathetic job by their awful GM

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    We were competitive enough to beat the rat turds in their house with our third string QB …..because Denver pats and niners couldn’t makes us look even better fan boy.

  13. ravenator says: Feb 14, 2013 5:38 PM

    Yes Pittsburgh standards of an 8-8 season one year removed from being Tebowd into irrelevancy. Such lofty goals You have. Hah, this franchise is a crumbling disaster and we all know it

  14. Nofoolnodrool says: Feb 14, 2013 5:41 PM

    Still can’t believe the price they’re paying for Roethlisberger. What’s more laughable, the ridiculous amount of cash they throw at him or the steeler fans who think he deserves it? I hope they give him a 5 year extension and he’s able to play till he’s 40. Even with a 4-12 record steeler fans would make excuses for him and welcome him back with open arms. I see why bobzilla gets furious with this overrated diva.

    Bobzilla may not like Ben, but he knows football. You on the other hand not so much…Ben gets credit for two SB wins and one loss not bad for some one so bad?

  15. Nofoolnodrool says: Feb 14, 2013 6:08 PM

    ravenator says:
    Feb 14, 2013 5:38 PM
    Yes Pittsburgh standards of an 8-8 season one year removed from being Tebowd into irrelevancy. Such lofty goals You have. Hah, this franchise is a crumbling disaster and we all know it

    2 0

    Our standards don’t include the support of a statue for someone who plead quilty to obstructing justice in a murder trial.
    I would say our standards are more than a mere 8-8 comparison. Does antler spray ring a bell…or are you tone deaf along with being blind with bias.

  16. csilojohnson says: Feb 14, 2013 6:16 PM

    Steeler will be fine. They will bounce back like they always do.
    Hate to say it but Hampton will be gone. Probably Wallace as well. Maby not. He didn’t have a great year though. Mendy is definitely gone. Harrison will restructure. As will Troy. Both should have a good healthy 2013 season.

  17. rottenbellybutton says: Feb 14, 2013 6:19 PM

    FoolwhoDrools: You never impressed me with football knowledge so I guess we’re on the same page. Like I said, I’m thrilled you’re happy with ben and want him to be your QB for years to come. Enjoy years of mediocrity clown!

  18. engymassx says: Feb 14, 2013 6:39 PM

    There’s a long list of Steelers starters that had a bad year. And as a Steelers player they know they can’t have 2 bad years in a row. This team has been competitive since the 1970’s merger, they’ll be back soon.

  19. matthewmtg45 says: Feb 14, 2013 6:56 PM

    Rottenbellybutton-

    Pittsburgh has gone through many years of “mediocrity.”

    If the above is true, which it is, and the Pittsburgh Steelers are still presently “King” of the NFL, what does that say about all the other teams, I wonder?

    Food for thought. :)

  20. ironman721 says: Feb 14, 2013 6:57 PM

    Trash talking in the offseason never made much sense to me but if think Pittsburgh won’t bounce back you are kidding yourselves. Injuries causing an inconsistent line up led to an 8-8 record. They were 1 win from the playoffs in the best division by far in football and their all pro qb missed 3 games and was banged up when he did come back. Lewis is the only guy on that list they need for the #1 defense in football. Haley is awful but Ben will overcome Haley’s awful play calling (20 draw plays a game) and Pittsburgh will be back in the playoffs. Enjoy this down time and please underestimate them because that always worked for what ever franchise you support. Remember the Steelers are closer to 7 🏆 then any other team in the NFL. And the OL is young and is only going to get better. Here we go Steelers!

  21. bobzilla1001 says: Feb 14, 2013 6:58 PM

    nofool:
    I harp because this is a football site for serious fooball followers. This is not an Internet fan club convention.
    Secondly, the Steelers also bearly beat the awful Eagles and the pathetic Chiefs, which means they easily could’ve been 6-10 or worse.
    My favorite team is not very good.
    Glad yours is doing well…

  22. 6ball says: Feb 14, 2013 6:59 PM

    .

    The Steelers need 11 new starters in the next two years. It’s a tall order.

    .

  23. antibenapalooza says: Feb 14, 2013 7:01 PM

    How many times do I have to say it???? Get rid of Rottenberger!!!!

  24. matthewmtg45 says: Feb 14, 2013 7:03 PM

    A-men Ironman –

    Personally, I smile when the world is “against” the Pittsburgh Steelers.

    You’d think the world would have learned by now..

  25. ironman721 says: Feb 14, 2013 7:12 PM

    One more thing, the last 2 Super Bowl Champs… Pittsburgh beat them both down in their own buildings. Baltimore should send Valentine’s flowers to KC for injuring Ben so they wouldn’t have to play against him. Batch kicked their butts and Leftwitch could have won the other game. Ravens should give Tamba Hali the Lombardi trophy for a day because he did as much to win the Super Bowl for Baltimore as the Refs did for not calling any penalties on them.

  26. ppdoc13 says: Feb 14, 2013 7:13 PM

    We in Baltimore have 8 and 8>6.

  27. ironman721 says: Feb 14, 2013 7:23 PM

    No the colts took those old trophies when they left your dirty crime infested crap hole of a city. Camden yards and the inner harbor are the only parts of Baltimore that doesn’t look or smell like ass.

  28. matthewmtg45 says: Feb 14, 2013 7:23 PM

    Antibenapalooza-

    Getting rid of a Top-7 QB in the world seems like a fantastic idea.

    I applaud your NFL analyzing skills.

  29. ravenator says: Feb 14, 2013 7:24 PM

    Hahaha even steeler fans recognize the joke that is mistake. Your team is awful and you know it

  30. clarencewhorley says: Feb 14, 2013 7:55 PM

    I would love to see a recently cut Troy P (not spelling that) or James Harrison signing with my 18 million under the cap Patriots. Once we cut Lloyd thats 22 mil, plenty to sign a RT tackle, Welker and a HOF safety.

  31. ravenator says: Feb 14, 2013 7:56 PM

    Hahaha even steeler fans recognize the joke that is nodrool. Your team is awful and you know it

  32. Nofoolnodrool says: Feb 14, 2013 8:26 PM

    bobzilla1001 says:
    Feb 14, 2013 6:58 PM
    nofool:
    I harp because this is a football site for serious fooball followers. This is not an Internet fan club convention.
    Secondly, the Steelers also bearly beat the awful Eagles and the pathetic Chiefs, which means they easily could’ve been 6-10 or worse.
    My favorite team is not very good.
    Glad yours is doing well…

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    This a site for serious football followers? Please most of the posters you try to bludgeon have only been watching tv alone for several years . They don’t realize you are a pompous blow hard who hates Ben but supposedly likes the steelers please try that on a non serious fan…but not me. You pick on and ridicule Deb the voice of moderation with such chauvinistic scorn it’s a joke… Hey enjoy your perch o all knowing …smh

  33. rottenbellybutton says: Feb 14, 2013 8:28 PM

    Ironman is talking about penalties being called. LOL! Did you watch SB XL homer? Most contreversial SB when it comes to officiating by far. Yinz can be thankful Bettis was from Detroit.

  34. crownofthehelmet says: Feb 14, 2013 8:31 PM

    ppdoc, are you really on a crusade to get people to think Bal has more championships than Pit?

    You sound ridiculous, like those Packer fans who brag about titles back when there were 4 teams in the league.

  35. matthewmtg45 says: Feb 14, 2013 8:39 PM

    The New England Patriots chances of ever passing the Pittsburgh Steelers (with Tom Brady) in Total Super Bowl Trophies is dying-off rather quickly.

    Tom Brady will be 36 in August.

    And I love it.

    So I thank you yet again, Ravens, for knocking-off the New England Patriots this past season, helping to ease my once feared nightmare of witnessing the Patriots surpass us.

  36. matthewmtg45 says: Feb 14, 2013 8:46 PM

    Packers & Raven fans would be wise to go read a bit on the old AFL & NFL leagues that existed back in the day.

    Bottom Line: Two different eras of football, rules, ‘play-off-systems, and drafting procedures. All with a much lesser team-count per league.

    “Champions” were actually awarded after just ONE play-off game up until about 1968, in which it grew to 2 play-off games.

    Hmm. I wonder how many current NFL teams won their “1st play-off game” and were named “Champions?”.
    :)

  37. ppdoc13 says: Feb 14, 2013 9:35 PM

    @crown – Now isn’t that the pot calling the kettle black. You harp on 6 Lombardi’s, 4 of which were before Ben was born.

    as far as the Packer titles, they are just as legit as the Putzburg titles. They started calling it the Superbowl after the AFL (upstart like the USFL) merged with the NFL to create 2 divisions, the AFC and the NFC.

    Now, if you want to abdicate your 4 titles from the 70’s and just to compare Putzburg to Bmore from when we returned to the NFL, you have 1 win, 1 loss, and 1 referees decision. We have 2 wins.

    No matter how you slice it and dice it, I can still make Baltimore > Pittsburgh, because it is the truth. If you strictly want to go by the NFL, we would have 5 and you do have 6. But the USFL was a real league. It only failed because of anti trust issues. They had big time players. The best DL of this generation Reggie White was in the USFL. As was guys like Kelvin Bryant, Jim Kelly, Steve Young etc. And in fact the Baltimore Stars won 2 USFL championships with Chuck Fusina from Penn State as our starting QB.

  38. 4getu says: Feb 14, 2013 10:05 PM

    Who cares. Steelers will probably crumble and their bandwagon fans will finally crawl back into the holes where they came from. Good riddance

  39. dachozen1 says: Feb 14, 2013 10:17 PM

    I don’t understand why these guys are considered the best at their craft. As far as I can remember, every year the Steelers are strapped for cash inhibiting them from being able to go after any free agent player of significance. The last highly sought after Free Agent the Steelers got was Jerome Bettis and that has been a minute. They don’t get high extra picks in draft and they trade players like Santonio Holmes for 4-6 round draft picks. Their GM and cap people are highly overrated.

  40. crownofthehelmet says: Feb 15, 2013 12:58 AM

    “..the USFL was a real league”

    I’m sorry, I thought I was conversing with a fan of football. My mistake.

  41. st33l3r522 says: Feb 15, 2013 9:25 AM

    i do agree with nickster, i love wallace but hes not irreplaceable, lewis is an up and coming young d-back with a lot of potential, everyone else wont be missed, harrison is my boy but i thinks it known that he may never be able to play a full season ever again

  42. ppdoc13 says: Feb 15, 2013 12:15 PM

    @crown

    Child please, it is likely that I was going to football games before you were a glint in your daddy’s eye. I was a season ticket holder to the real Colts of Baltimore (RIP) in the 1960’s.

  43. Nofoolnodrool says: Feb 15, 2013 3:17 PM

    Now, if you want to abdicate your 4 titles from the 70′s and just to compare Putzburg to Bmore from when we returned to the NFL, you have 1 win, 1 loss, and 1 referees decision. We have 2 wins.

    First of all, home of the slasherRev Ray , you have one win and this years referees decision. Funny I have been watching football since the mid fifties and didn’t know the usfl played football, but they must to support your senile argument about most Lombardi’s. please only a baltimoron would think that way.

  44. bobzilla1001 says: Feb 15, 2013 4:56 PM

    no fool:
    Deb ought to feel flattered that the likes of you would rush to her defense … on Valentine’s Day, no less.
    Very touching.
    Leave it to you Roethlisberger Obsessives to drag his name into a discussion that has nothing to do with “overpaid, overrated or overhyped quarterbacks.”
    Stick to the topic.

  45. Nofoolnodrool says: Feb 15, 2013 5:27 PM

    no fool:
    Deb ought to feel flattered that the likes of you would rush to her defense … on Valentine’s Day, no less.
    Very touching.
    Leave it to you Roethlisberger Obsessives to drag his name into a discussion that has nothing to do with “overpaid, overrated or overhyped quarterbacks.”
    Stick to the topic.

    Please we could have a thread on paint drying and your pompous butt would say it wasn’t drying fast enough and it is Bens fault …don’t buy it or your attitude.

  46. bobzilla1001 says: Feb 15, 2013 6:05 PM

    Paint drying?
    Did you forget again to take your medication?
    Anytime you want to conduct an actual debate about the pros and cons of Ben Roethlisberger, please let me know.
    But be warned: Your sensitive feelings will be hurt.
    That’s a promise.

  47. bobzilla1001 says: Feb 15, 2013 6:08 PM

    Paint drying?
    Fast enough?
    Ben’s fault?
    Say, your REALLY are quite the astute Steelers fan. I apologize.
    By the way: Try to remember to take your medication tomorrow.

  48. scoobies05 says: Feb 16, 2013 2:05 PM

    oh nofool. i suppose its ok that your gm supports having a 2 time accused rapist on his team is ok. i find it quite telling that whenever this is mentioned you normally respond by insulting baltimore. the true defense of a hypocrite

  49. scoobies05 says: Feb 16, 2013 2:09 PM

    and there is your problem crown. the league existed before the steelers started winning all those superbowls. but by your logic since the nfl expanded to 32 teams baltimore and pitt both have 2. and to the poster who is bragging that the steelers have beaten the last 2 sb champs…sad oh so sad

  50. Nofoolnodrool says: Feb 16, 2013 4:35 PM

    oh nofool. i suppose its ok that your gm supports having a 2 time accused rapist on his team is ok. i find it quite telling that whenever this is mentioned you normally respond by insulting baltimore. the true defense of a hypocrite

    The gm supports an alleged rapist because he plead to nothing.
    Slasher Ray plead to obstruction in a murder trial. And there are no drives to collect money for a statue of Ben… Death versus alleged rape think about that clown let it sink in to your homer brain…smh

    On the bright side steeler fans need to be ready for a couple of tough years ahead while we rebuild.

  51. scoobies05 says: Feb 17, 2013 7:18 PM

    again….twisting it to support your homer bias. yes..ray plead guilty to obstruction of justice because thats the crime he committed. no convictions of murder…not even a trial because he didnt kill anyone. you are an intelligent man….read up on the case. no evidence no testimony nothing to support a murder charge on ray. show me anything to the contrary….you cant

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