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Steelers have some tough decisions to make in 2014

Polamalu Getty Images

Plenty of good teams have had salary-cap issues.  The Steelers have cap issues, but they’re currently not a very good team.

Both last year (when they missed the playoffs) and this year (when they got off to a very sluggish start start), the Steelers had to push cap dollars into future years in order to comply with the current spending limits.  Per a league source, the Steelers already have more than $125 million tied up in 2014 commitments.

The good news is that’s not nearly the same cap bulge they’ve dealt with in the past couple of years, requiring less intense effort to get things under control.  But several veteran players have huge cap numbers for 2014, forcing the Steelers to decide sooner rather than later whether to try to once again to restructure (pushing cap dollars into future years) or to cut the cord and move on.

Tight end Heath Miller’s cap number for next year recently was pushed to $9.466 million.  Safety Troy Polamalu’s 2014 cap number sits at $10.887 million.  Cornerback Ike Taylor counts for $10.454 million next year.  Linebacker Lawrence Timmons has an $11.816 million cap number in 2014.  Linebacker LaMarr Woodley will chew up $13.59 million.

The biggest contract of them all belongs to Ben Roethlisberger, who has a whopping $18.895 million tied to his name for 2014, the next-to-last year of his current contract.

Some of those guys will be cut, others will be kept with reduced cap numbers.  Some may want out, depending on how badly the 2013 season goes.

That’s a dynamic the Steelers haven’t had to confront very often during the salary-cap era.  What if one or more big-name, big-cap-number players decide to refuse to cooperate, forcing the team’s hand?  In past years, players routinely have been willing to sign off on reshuffled deals that don’t reduce their total pay.  If this season goes poorly, however, maybe some guys will decide they want out.

Either way, the Steelers are inching toward some tough decisions — and some of their iconic players could be, too.

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58 Responses to “Steelers have some tough decisions to make in 2014”
  1. wearethechampsandyourenot says: Sep 16, 2013 1:35 AM

    LOL….the steelers….LOL

  2. stainlessstill says: Sep 16, 2013 1:48 AM

    Nothing new. It’s the Steelers way. History comes and goes, but always repeats itself! They have a young core in place and have made such decisions on guys like Greg Lloyd, Joey Porter, Alan Faneca, Hines Ward and more recently, James Harrison. The Steelers know what they’re doing and it hasn’t changed, no matter what this article suggests. The Steelers ALWAYS had tough decisions to make….

  3. alphawolf01 says: Sep 16, 2013 1:59 AM

    Throw in Mike Tomlin as the cherry on top and you’ll start to enjoy your Sunday again!

  4. socalraider909 says: Sep 16, 2013 2:00 AM

    The Raiders will welcome Miller

  5. raqaiw says: Sep 16, 2013 2:01 AM

    Fans of the other teams in the AFCN have been saying this for years but the steeler faithful keep telling us that it’ll somehow be ok. This team is a hot mess right now and it’ll only get worse before it gets better thanks to the constant restructuring.

  6. backwardpack says: Sep 16, 2013 2:26 AM

    Looks like Kolbert isn’t the genius everyone thought…good luck.

  7. butchhickory says: Sep 16, 2013 2:41 AM

    And this is supposed to make me feel bad, how ?
    All you pittsburg fans that said the Ravens were destroyed by the Flacco deal will soon be saying they’ll be alright, we have six rings.
    While we living in the past, lets go get our bell bottoms and go to the disco.

  8. thestrategyexpert says: Sep 16, 2013 3:12 AM

    Deal Ben, don’t pay him big money if you aren’t ready and equipped to win with him.

  9. number20pick6 says: Sep 16, 2013 4:59 AM

    0-16

  10. Stiller43 says: Sep 16, 2013 6:25 AM

    Sluggish start? I agree theyre nothing special, but 0-1 is now a “sluggish start?”

    Ben and heath will be extended and cap #’s will go down that way. Other guys?…probably restructure…again…maybe last year we see my boy troy.

  11. jobotjones says: Sep 16, 2013 6:42 AM

    You don’t want to play you pack your bags. That has and will always be the way things work.

  12. ghostrider45 says: Sep 16, 2013 6:52 AM

    Doormats of the afcn for years to come. Who Dey!

  13. contract says: Sep 16, 2013 6:57 AM

    Every single one of those guys will be back again next season. Every single one.

  14. 4ever19 says: Sep 16, 2013 7:07 AM

    Couldn’t happen to a nicer team – wait, maybe the Patsies. That will be hilarious when BB and Cindee Brady start crumbling

  15. yyyass says: Sep 16, 2013 7:10 AM

    “Iconic” players… Like anyone from Pittsburgh knows what that word means.

  16. iammrbinky says: Sep 16, 2013 7:16 AM

    The Steelers need 3-5 years to eliminate the bloated contracts and rebuild. For years they have been a model franchise but all teams go through tough times and it appears the Steelers are heading there.

  17. vex24 says: Sep 16, 2013 7:20 AM

    James ‘The New Bengals’ Beast’ Harrison! ….See ya, TONIGHT.

  18. bandzz says: Sep 16, 2013 7:21 AM

    That’s cuz OZ isn’t running things over there. Maybe we’ll sign one or two of their free agents just to rub in their face.

  19. clemenza58 says: Sep 16, 2013 7:33 AM

    This is nothing new. The Steelers have been pushing money into future years for quite some time and they’ve had to let some players go over the past two years for cap reasons. If anyone is going to figure out a way to make the numbers work, it’s Omar Kahn.

    Barring an unforeseen injury, Roethlisberger is going to get another big contract and it’ll be structured to lower his cap charge in the first year or two. After that, we’ll see what happens. Timmons, Woodley and Miller will likely stick around as well. The wild cards are Polamalu and Taylor. Both will need to stay healthy and productive to justify their cap charges for 2014, which will be the last year of their respective deals anyway.

    Obviously, this is a team in transition and they just happened to get old and expensive at the same time. Next offseason is probably going to be the last one where numerous big names will be departing at the same time. Personally, I have had no problem with the way the Steelers managed their cap over the past 10 years. It netted out three Super Bowl trips and two wins.

  20. Joemontanaflacco says: Sep 16, 2013 7:33 AM

    WEARETHESTEELERS!!!
    WEGOTSIXRINGS!!!
    WEKNOWWHATWEDOING!!!
    SIXRINGSWEGOT!!!
    DIDISAYSIX????
    SIXRINGSANDCOUNTING!!!
    ALLTHEWAYTOSIX!!!

  21. 1mommicked1 says: Sep 16, 2013 7:34 AM

    Let the youth movement begin

  22. juzthadoginme says: Sep 16, 2013 7:39 AM

    AHHH That’s to bad…poor Sqeelers…WOOF WOOF.

  23. londonbengal says: Sep 16, 2013 7:53 AM

    I’ve followed a team in the same division as the Steelers for over 30 years now, and there is one thing I know for sure.

    Next year, the Steelers could go and get 53 free-agent guys off the street, and they would still play hard and tough; its in their DNA.

    The highly talented and promising Bengals will play a supposed old and declining Steeler team on MNF tonight, but this Bengal fan will be expecting nothing other than a hard, tough-nosed battle.

    Don’t ever underestimate the Steelers.

  24. DonRSD says: Sep 16, 2013 7:54 AM

    No need to complain STEAL-er fans……the refs gifted your last 2 Super Bowl victories for you.

    Hide your daughters, Big Ben is coming to town lmao.

  25. reed20fence says: Sep 16, 2013 8:13 AM

    One team embraces the nature of the business and only gives the big contracts to a handful of players around which they build their gameplans. Spending the rest of their cap dollars on hidden gems that are the fruit of a robust scouting regime. Late-round sleepers. Small school guys. Undrafted free agents. And talented under-valued cast-offs from crappy teams.

    The other team buries their head in the sand by gambling their future away on the health of soon-to-be AARP members and can barely hit on their obvious early-round draft picks, much less the mid and late rounders.

    I’ll let you guess which team is which in this rivalry.

  26. howiefeltersnatch says: Sep 16, 2013 8:16 AM

    They had a good run, but when the ‘roids dried up and guys’ ages started to creep north of 30 they look like the Steelers circa 1983 now

  27. overratedsteelerhater says: Sep 16, 2013 8:16 AM

    they better dump most of them andnot listen to the know it all fan base.they won’t be in the playoffs anytime soon…

  28. snation74 says: Sep 16, 2013 8:21 AM

    This is sad but true every year we need to do something but then again if it’s not broke why fix it? Before you all you haters jump on the bandwagon “oh well how is that working for you right now” this year isn’t over yet and regardless of today’s out come we are only one game back in the division. We are going to have to part with some of the faces of are origination in the next few years but we will be just fine trust me. There really is nothing you can do and all the talk that Tomlin job could be in trouble is ridiculous. Expectations are high how could they not be you are part of the best run origination in the NFL!!!

  29. 561bengal says: Sep 16, 2013 8:51 AM

    The Steelers may be getting long in the tooth but as a Bengals fan I’m not expecting anything except a hard fought battle tonight. Big Ben may enjoy raping women now and then but he can still play QB as well as anyone.

  30. johnnybgood19 says: Sep 16, 2013 8:59 AM

    Tonight is the first time since Ben was a rookie that I think that the STEELERS will not win tonight. I have been a fan since Bobby Layne was our starter. So I have some practice in thinking that the STEELERS might lose… but the current team is not like the teams of the fifties and early sixties, that even though they didn’t win alot they had heart. This team seems to be about the business of football rather than the game of football…
    Time to restructure a bunch of contracts, and make a bunch of changes… that includes names on the coaching staff as well….

  31. thegenoatkinsdiet says: Sep 16, 2013 9:05 AM

    snation74 says:
    Sep 16, 2013 8:21 AM
    …you are part of the best run origination in the NFL!!!
    —————————————————

    I never would have figured that spending yourself into oblivion is how to become well-run team. Good luck with that.

  32. tennesseeoilers says: Sep 16, 2013 9:07 AM

    Big Ben, remember how Steve McNair was sent packing just 3 years after his NFL MVP season because of a big contract?

    Just sayin’ …

  33. steelers6ringteam says: Sep 16, 2013 9:55 AM

    Its been a while since we have been in this position both cap wise and talent. I am not sure how the season will turn out but in the long run we will be okay.

  34. snation74 says: Sep 16, 2013 10:03 AM

    It’s not that hard to tell the difference between a real steelers fan and a band wagon fan. Steelers fans don’t base there team when the under preform the believe in what the team is doing and are in board. This franchise is always talked about in high regarding for bein one of the best run as any sports franchise. We will get right have faith and stay the course. Lets not stoop down to the leave of competition we are better then that. 6 is sweet but 7 would be better if not this year then soon say what you want we have a winner at QB. All take that over a guy you dominates all year then falls short no disrespect manning.

  35. snation74 says: Sep 16, 2013 10:10 AM

    thegenoatkinsdiet says:
    Sep 16, 2013 9:05 AM
    snation74 says:
    Sep 16, 2013 8:21 AM
    …you are part of the best run origination in the NFL!!!
    —————————————————

    I never would have figured that spending yourself into oblivion is how to become well-run team. Good luck with that.

    Well all that over spending did get us two rings. Next to the patriots thy had spy gate who else has had the success he do. The giants and look where there are right now. Please don’t just sit behind your computer and bash come with some facts. Every year they talk about orgaization they steelers are always mentioned. But it’s to be expected when you win all the time people hate aka are jeoulas of your success.

  36. Steeley McBeam says: Sep 16, 2013 10:19 AM

    Ughh you still dont get it… Ben and Heath will be entering the final year of their deal; the time the Steelers extend their contracts and make the restructuing a moot point. If Bens cap his is scheduled to be $19m today, his new deal will bring it down to around $10m. Same with Heath, obviously different numbers, and problem solved.

    If you are suggesting they would ever consider cutting ties with Lawerence Timmons, just stop. This is how the Steelers have handled business for the past 30 years, they know what they are doing and its nothing new. This will be a non-issue after the new contracts are handed out.

    But, until then, keep making your ignorant, short sided comments Ravens fans (while still defending Joe Flaccos deal which is in the exact same scenario).

  37. Joemontanaflacco says: Sep 16, 2013 10:52 AM

    Like the man said:

    “Plenty of good teams have had salary-cap issues. The Steelers have cap issues, but they’re currently not a very good team.”

    Reality check, baby!

  38. troy43mvp says: Sep 16, 2013 11:00 AM

    Drama Queens Need Not Reply! First Off Colbert is a genius because he has helped assemble a team that won 2 Superbowls and went to a 3rd. Secondly The Steelers have always been able to manage just fine. All of the “dark days are coming” talk is not a reality for the Steelers. It is for the Bengals and the Browns because they don’t have the complete organization, I’m talking from the owners on down to the equipment managers. Bengals fans, enjoy the talent but know this you have nothing until you can win it all. Nobody even has you in the discussion You know it and I know it. Paper Champions! Fact of the matter is that winning it all causes Salary Cap issues. Baltimore and Pittsburgh are feeling that now and the good organizations go through it and come out just fine. The Steelers playoff history speaks for itself.

  39. jtbsteeler says: Sep 16, 2013 11:10 AM

    Suggs
    Ngata
    Rice
    Webb

    Care to post those salary cap figures for next year? Care to show how the Ravens will be up against the cap just like the Steelers will be?

    I keep telling you the Ravens fanbase is laden with hypocrisy.

  40. stillers213 says: Sep 16, 2013 11:29 AM

    Steely, I could not agree more. The media should stop pretending they’re capologists. I’m pretty sure Kahn and Colbert know a helluva lot more about the NFL financial labyrinth than anyone that contributes to these articles..

  41. stoogy says: Sep 16, 2013 11:42 AM

    it is a shame that this team is so aweful and have no cap room in the future to turn the team into a good team. They are trash. Its funny watching their draft picks all bust the last few years as well. The bengals are going to dominate them tonight and embarress them on national tv. Then next weak a good Bears team is going into pittsburgh and make them look silly sunday night. 0-3 for the steelers and many more losses to come for this pitiful franshise.

  42. steelcurtainn says: Sep 16, 2013 11:46 AM

    Same ol babbling comments from the same old haters. Ravens aren’t going anywhere after yesterdays performance. Steelers will be fine. 6 rings….. You get to here it again since some of you like to continually bash them.

  43. crownofthehelmet says: Sep 16, 2013 11:54 AM

    This article and comments will make 2014 that much sweeter, as the 8th Lombardi is lifted in victory and Ben turns and says, “Who’s laughing now Front office?!”

  44. erick670 says: Sep 16, 2013 12:25 PM

    DonRSD says: Sep 16, 2013 7:54 AM

    No need to complain STEAL-er fans……the refs gifted your last 2 Super Bowl victories for you.

    Hide your daughters, Big Ben is coming to town lmao

    you might wanna hide ur momma nevermind you would like that see u tonight when ben makes your team o-2 .

  45. erick670 says: Sep 16, 2013 12:29 PM

    stoogy says: Sep 16, 2013 11:42 AM

    it is a shame that this team is so aweful and have no cap room in the future to turn the team into a good team. They are trash. Its funny watching their draft picks all bust the last few years as well. The bengals are going to dominate them tonight and embarress them on national tv. Then next weak a good Bears team is going into pittsburgh and make them look silly sunday night. 0-3 for the steelers and many more losses to come for this pitiful franshise.

    bengals will not dominate nothing and our picks are bust what about wallace brown pro bowl center pouncy and who dalton will see alot of jarvis jones idiot learn what ur talking about before sounding dumb nevermind ur team is the bengals thats just how u all are dumb

  46. tavisteelersfan says: Sep 16, 2013 12:31 PM

    Gotta say it … article is weird. Raven’s barely get past Browns. Titans show they are a better team this year against Houston. Steelers … we’ll see tonight.

    As for next year, que cera cera.

  47. lovefootball4life says: Sep 16, 2013 1:01 PM

    jtbsteeler says: Sep 16, 2013 11:10 AM

    Suggs
    Ngata
    Rice
    Webb

    Care to post those salary cap figures for next year? Care to show how the Ravens will be up against the cap just like the Steelers will be?

    I keep telling you the Ravens fanbase is laden with hypocrisy.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Dude most of the comments on here are from Bengal fans. Need to stop obsessing so much and focus on tonights opponent boy!

  48. scoobies05 says: Sep 16, 2013 1:26 PM

    just curious jb…how does an article written by a pft writer equal ravens fans being hypocrites? or is this just your attempt to try to divert attention from the true nature of the article? im sure at some point there will be an article written on potential raven cap issues…until then, stick to the topic

    crown…next year the steelers hold up number 8? meaning this year they get 7? good one

  49. buff80 says: Sep 16, 2013 1:27 PM

    The steelers are in trouble right now, but boy they have had a run. Lets see how they deal with their cap issues. Hopefully they stay down for a while…new blood is nice

  50. Deb says: Sep 16, 2013 2:27 PM

    Amusing that the londonbengal has a better grasp of how the Steelers operate than most of the AFCN fans on this side of the pond.

    Let’s worry about one season at a time, shall we?

  51. cincyalldaway says: Sep 16, 2013 2:32 PM

    As Bengals fan…I NEVER under estimate the Steelers. Say what you want about BB, but he’s a top QB and anybody who says different is ..well…an idiot! Now that being said, I do think my Bengals come out on top tonight. Not a blow out by any means. It will be a hard fought game, they always are. But like it or not, the Steelers do have troubles and a lot of it is caused by the cap. They probably will restructure some contracts and come out alright, they usually do. But you have to know that not everyone who’ll be asked to take a pay cut will do so willingly and like it. Some of those guys may be playing their last season in PITT. Time will tell.

  52. rottenbellybutton says: Sep 16, 2013 2:52 PM

    erick670,

    stoogy has claimed many times he is a raider fan not a Bengal fan. The yinzers have built a powerful hatred in him for the steelers. Anyone other than a steeler fan knows where he is coming from. After reading your post, you should be the last person to call someone dumb.

  53. ydousuk says: Sep 16, 2013 3:00 PM

    crownofthehelmet says: Sep 16, 2013 11:54 AM

    This article and comments will make 2014 that much sweeter, as the 8th Lombardi is lifted in victory and Ben turns and says, “Who’s laughing now Front office?!

    ————————————————————-
    Will Ben be saying that to an underage girl in a bar?

  54. dickroy says: Sep 16, 2013 3:11 PM

    I will be in Cincinnati tonight for the game, wearing my black & gold. It will be amazing to see almost as many Steeler fans as Bengal fans. Happens every year. I expect a good hard fought game from both teams. Hopefully the Steelers come out on top.

  55. z06vision says: Sep 16, 2013 4:58 PM

    Joemontanaflacco says:
    Sep 16, 2013 7:33 AM
    WEARETHESTEELERS!!!
    WEGOTSIXRINGS!!!
    WEKNOWWHATWEDOING!!!
    SIXRINGSWEGOT!!!
    DIDISAYSIX????
    SIXRINGSANDCOUNTING!!!
    ALLTHEWAYTOSIX!!!

    Say it loud and say it proud! Did you forget you were not under your poser name of wearethesteelers?

  56. Nofoolnodrool says: Sep 16, 2013 5:42 PM

    z06vision says:
    Sep 16, 2013 4:58 PM
    Joemontanaflacco says:
    Sep 16, 2013 7:33 AM
    WEARETHESTEELERS!!!
    WEGOTSIXRINGS!!!
    WEKNOWWHATWEDOING!!!
    SIXRINGSWEGOT!!!
    DIDISAYSIX????
    SIXRINGSANDCOUNTING!!!
    ALLTHEWAYTOSIX!!!

    Say it loud and say it proud! Did you forget you were not under your poser name of wearethesteelers?

    1 1 Glad to see another sees the tools of the fool known as JFM. He is the pride of the ravens… Close your eyes…..think of Ray, Joeflaccomontana and the ravens……hahahahahahahaha .

  57. originalsteelcurtain says: Sep 16, 2013 6:19 PM

    The blueprint for success in the new National Goodell Football Passing League was on display in the Sunday night game: draft a young starting QB like Wilson or Kaepernick, and use the available cap space to build a playoff-solid team, and let the young QB walk when it’s time for C2…get a nice comp pick, draft a young QB again, rinse, and repeat.

    Why waste $18-20mil on a “proven” QB like Flacco or Big Ben, when you can get Russell Wilson for $1.8mil?

  58. Deb says: Sep 16, 2013 7:41 PM

    @dickroy …

    Hope you have a great night!! Go Steelers!!

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