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Steelers have work to do before March 11

Colbert Getty Images

For the Steelers, salary-cap gymnastics have been a key ingredient of the weeks preceding the start of the new league year.  In 2014, it’ll likely be no different.

Projected to be more than $10 million over the cap, the Steelers need to do plenty of work, in a short period of time.

Via Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, G.M. Kevin Colbert told a handful of local reporters that the effort will include “terminations, restructurings, and extensions.”  That part of it’s not a surprise; the question is who gets cut, who gets a restructured deal, and who gets an extension?

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, with a cap number of $18.8 million for 2014, has been seen as the most likely to get a new long-term deal, especially since it’ll be harder to chop down the cap charge with only one year remaining on his current deal.  For every dollar of his $12.1 million base salary that’s converted to a bonus, 50 cents would apply to 2014 and the other 50 would apply to 2015.  And with a cap number of $18.3 million in 2015, that number can quickly get even more out of whack.

If, for example, $6 million of Roethlisberger’s base salary is converted to a bonus, his cap charge for 2014 would drop to $15.8 million — and his cap number for 2015 would rise to $21.3 million.

At some point, a new deal will be necessary, but Roethlisberger may want to be paid among the highest-paid quarterbacks in the league, who currently are making more than $20 million per year.

Elsewhere on the roster, cutting tackle Levi Brown would free up $6 million immediately.  Dumping cornerback Ike Taylor would open up $7 million in cap space.  Whacking safety Troy Polamalu would free up $8.25 million.

Other contracts could be “restructured” like Roethlisberger’s has been in past years, with money converted from salary to bonus, pushing current cap dollars into future years.

Regardless, the Steelers will try to find a way to hold the team together.  Colbert explained that the Steelers are “never going to say, OK, we’re not going to be a contender, let’s gut this thing and start over.”

Part of remaining a contender could be finding a way to keep linebacker Jason Worillds (who is due to be a free agent) and linebacker LaMarr Woodley (who has a base salary of $8 million and a cap number of $13.5 million).  Colbert said it’s possible to keep both guys.

Despite missing the playoffs in each of the last two years, the Steelers have shown an ability to consistently contend for postseason berths.  Recently, they’ve been unable to develop the kind of young talent that previously stepped in when older players left or were cut.  Regardless of what the Steelers do with their veteran players, they need to get more mileage out of their draft picks and other young players who eventually become the high-priced veterans whose contracts need to be restructured.

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38 Responses to “Steelers have work to do before March 11”
  1. psmith7716 says: Feb 12, 2014 2:56 PM

    Maybe it is time to re-think our defensive scheme. We draft supposedly good defensive players, and then they are not productive for a number of years because they have to learn the system. Maybe we need to change the system so we can immediately utilize the players we bring in. I appreciate all that Coach LeBeau has brought to our team, but let’s consider changing things up. Maybe it is time to turn the “D” over to someone else?

  2. pooflingingmonkey says: Feb 12, 2014 2:56 PM

    The Steelers will field a competitve team regardless. Playoff caliber? Probably not.

  3. 6ball says: Feb 12, 2014 2:57 PM

    .

    Since Mike Tomlin became coach the Steelers drafts have been less than stellar. Is he calling the shots on draft day? Or is it Colbert?

    .

  4. walkinginthewasteland says: Feb 12, 2014 2:58 PM

    There is no justifiable reason to keep Lamarr “Captain Calf Strain” Woodley on the roster except to justify sabotaging the team. Eat the money and move on with someone who will be healthy on gameday.

  5. doctorrustbelt says: Feb 12, 2014 3:00 PM

    FACT: Andy Dalton has KNOCKED the steelers out of playoff contention the past two seasons

    Enjoy!!!

  6. detectivejimmymcnulty says: Feb 12, 2014 3:02 PM

    Notice how the Steelers are always in this situation?

  7. whosennext says: Feb 12, 2014 3:04 PM

    I would start by cutting Levi Brown, Ike Taylor, Troy Polamalu and Lamarr Woodley. That adds up to 34.75 million for next season. They have not won with these players the past 2 seasons. Why would next season make a difference. They all are 1 year older and 2 steps slower. Then you redo Ben Roethlisberger’s last contract to free up even more money. Follow that up with resigning Lason Worillds. Now the hard part. Do your homework and draft well and get younger. That may mean moving up in the draft to get a pick that might step in and start. Not sure how much they are paying the backup running backs, but I would get rid of one of them as well. Many holes need filling on this team, but now is the time to do something about it instead of doing this year in and year out.

  8. theleaguesbest says: Feb 12, 2014 3:06 PM

    Why hold a team together that didn’t even make the playoffs? It would be best if they could find a new QB to groom this year.

    It just seems like this team keeps “robbing Peter to pay Paul”. Embrace the suck for the next couple of years and build through the draft. Oh and find a new O-coordinator.

  9. charliemeatwagon says: Feb 12, 2014 3:09 PM

    They accidently posted a story from 2006. (or 2007 or 2008 or …………………)

  10. imbetteratlifethanyou says: Feb 12, 2014 3:16 PM

    If you had a choice to vacation in Pittsburgh or Afghanistan – I’m fairly certain that 99% of the people in here would choose Afghanistan.

  11. thestrategyexpert says: Feb 12, 2014 3:19 PM

    This team is starting to fall apart, can’t wait until they pay Big Ben a whole bunch of money and limit their future options. I don’t think they will be much of a threat for the rest of this decade.

  12. doctorrustbelt says: Feb 12, 2014 3:26 PM

    The steelers haven’t been a factor since steelers team doctor dr. rydze was investigated and indicted by federal authorities for the illegal distribution of anabolic steroids and growth hormone.

  13. bobzilla1001 says: Feb 12, 2014 3:31 PM

    Part of remaining a contender could be playing in the AFC, where 8-8 is considered acceptable and postseason possible.
    The Steelers will remain mediocre as long as they continue to entertain thoughts of paying their quarterback among the league’s highest paid.
    The logical thing to do would be to trade him for a couple high draft picks, then pump those draft picks into a defense that went from No. 1 to No. 15 in scoring.
    There are no easy solutions.
    But giving all the money to one player shouldn’t be an option.

  14. tavisteelersfan says: Feb 12, 2014 3:31 PM

    No way they cut Polamalu. Best player on 2013 defence with only one other contender, Timmons in the mix. No one in line to take his place. What are you people thinking.

    Ike is tough. He gets eaten alive by Megatron for a quarter, shuts him down for a half. No Ike, Green and Gordon run wild. But quite a few frustrating misses for deep yardage. I hope he takes 3 years for $10m.

    Woodley done period. Clark, done, sad. Like Farrior, Smith, etc. Its time, and its Thomas’ time.

    All easy. How do they get better at Corner. What do they need to shut down the run. How do they get to the passer. Much tougher decisions.

  15. Nofoolnodrool says: Feb 12, 2014 3:33 PM

    FACT: Andy Dalton has KNOCKED the steelers out of playoff contention the past two seasons

    Enjoy!!!

    Ah Dr One and Done forgets that Andy Dalton knocks the Bengals out every year.

    I love this time of the year when all the yahoo trolls of the Bengals and Ravens appear with their annual gloom and doom. Steelers beat everybody in the AFC north this year so ssshhh. Only team to finish strong last year.

  16. russellwilsonismymvp says: Feb 12, 2014 3:34 PM

    Keep Troy Polamalu! He’s the hair covered face of that franchise!

  17. sallust99 says: Feb 12, 2014 3:36 PM

    Why do I always have to do this – but here we go again:

    72, 74, 75, 76, 78, 79, 84, 94, 95, 97, 01, 04, 05, 08, 10

    That is a game ware from the Super Bowl 15 times – more than any other franchise.

    Quit hating. We obviously know what we are doing.

    #blackandgold

  18. 3yardsndust says: Feb 12, 2014 3:39 PM

    Their drafts have gotten progressively worse under Colbert. He needs to go.

    Similarly, they keep lazy guys like Lamar Woodley who once played with determation but is now just a cap drain and a blob on the field. You suck, Woodley, and I mean that. You got paid and then you lazy.

  19. crownofthehelmet says: Feb 12, 2014 3:39 PM

    Offer Troy $6M/yr, cut Ike, Woodley, and Levi of course. Let Ben play out the final 2 years of his contract. Problem solved.

    I used to think we should extend Ben, but after seeing the other afcn QB’s flounder around, a rookie could best Flacco, Dalton, and whoever Cle has.

  20. doctorrustbelt says: Feb 12, 2014 3:41 PM

    Andy Dalton OWNS the pittsburgh steelers.

    Dalton KNOCKED pittsburgh out of playoff contention the past two season.

    Deal With It.

  21. sallust99 says: Feb 12, 2014 3:43 PM

    How many SBs have the Bungles won?

    How many AFC Championship game appearances?

    That’s what I thought . . .

    The Steelers have been the model NFL franchise for 40 plus years.

    How many winning seasons for Bungles the last 20 years?

  22. southpaw2k says: Feb 12, 2014 3:46 PM

    I’m always amused at fans playing armchair GMs for either a.) their favorite team, or b.) their favorite team’s main rival, as if they know how to run the teams in question better than the guys in the front office.

    I’m not going to sit here and claim I know the solution to the problem, but it’s pretty clear the Steelers aren’t that far away from having to cut least a couple of their most well-known veterans, e.g. Polamalu, Taylor, and/or Woodley.

  23. steelcurtainn says: Feb 12, 2014 3:54 PM

    Levi is gone…..You definitely have to keep Troy P. I’d like to see the steelers keep both Worilds and Woodley. I just don’t see it happening. Hope I’m wrong. After two subpar seasons, Colbert and Tomlin will make the right moves for the team. I expect the steelers contending with cincy for the division this year.

  24. Nofoolnodrool says: Feb 12, 2014 3:56 PM

    Deal With It.

    Good advice for you to follow Dr One and Done. How does it feel to never have seen your team win a playoff game?

    Steelers need to not invest everything in Ben, cut the fat in Woodley and Clark, and let the new guys play. Another 8-8 year to get out of cap hell will help.

  25. realitycheckbaby says: Feb 12, 2014 3:57 PM

    Ben’s yards per attempt this year – 13th in the league.

    Elite?

    Hardly.

    The only good news was “elite” Flacco is 35th.

    Russell Wilson – 4th behind only Manning, Rodgers and Foles.

    HTH

  26. ialwayswantedtobeabanker says: Feb 12, 2014 4:07 PM

    Regarding the headline the “Steelers will have work to do before March 11th”. That’s pretty much true for the extended foreseeable future the way we’ve constantly restructured contracts that continue to push the impact to a breaking point like a snowplow.

    We’re going to be cap-jammed for a lonnng time, until we swallow hard and face the music.

  27. theageofquarrel says: Feb 12, 2014 4:23 PM

    Gotta love these johnny come lately Seachicken fans blowing their own horn.
    WOW!!! You won ONE Lombardi,get over yourselves.
    I said it once and I will say it again. Seachickens have been the doormat of the NFL since 1976 and you will be once again.

  28. citizenstrange says: Feb 12, 2014 4:25 PM

    No playoffs for the Steelers until at least 2017.

  29. flaccodelic says: Feb 12, 2014 4:37 PM

    It’s a shame Rothlisberger has tied the hands of the franchise with his ridiculous contract, which has led to two straight .500 seasons. Imagine what Steelers fans would say if Flacco’s cap number was anywhere near $18M.

    But don’t worry- I understand Mike Tomlin plans to casually sidle over and block league officials from enforcing the cap, so that should take care of things.

  30. crownofthehelmet says: Feb 12, 2014 4:46 PM

    “Imagine what Steelers fans would say if Flacco’s cap number was anywhere near $18M.”

    Where’d the other $12M of the cap hit go?

  31. Nofoolnodrool says: Feb 12, 2014 4:51 PM

    It’s a shame Rothlisberger has tied the hands of the franchise with his ridiculous contract, which has led to two straight .500 seasons. Imagine what Steelers fans would say if Flacco’s cap number was anywhere near $18M.

    But don’t worry- I understand Mike Tomlin plans to casually sidle over and block league officials from enforcing the cap, so that should take care of things.

    Tomlin can sidle his way to old age as Long as he doesn’t stab anyone.

    I guess Jump Ball Joe isn’t about to raise cap hell for the Ratbirds right….? Think before hitting submit skippy.

  32. johnnyb1976 says: Feb 13, 2014 8:44 AM

    Steelers are in salary cap hell and I love it.

  33. ydousuk says: Feb 13, 2014 1:44 PM

    Salary cap issues can be tough.

  34. Joemontanaflacco says: Feb 13, 2014 7:33 PM

    It’s not about the salary cap. The team simply has no will to win when it counts. End of season garbage victories mean nothing.

  35. inbredcheesehead says: Feb 13, 2014 10:50 PM

    ha ha lots of wurk stillers no good packers are best

  36. crownofthehelmet says: Feb 13, 2014 10:52 PM

    the will to win – see Pats vs Ravens 2013 for anti-demonstration

  37. Joemontanaflacco says: Feb 14, 2014 2:29 PM

    “the will to win – see Pats vs Ravens 2013 for anti-demonstration”

    Certainly that game was a big letdown for a team on a four game winning streak, including a nice beatdown of the Steelers. But may I make one point about playing the Patriots? In fact, may I make 55 POINTS?

  38. sbchampsagain says: Feb 17, 2014 11:44 AM

    When do we find out what pick we lose for Tomlin’s sideline dance in Balty?

    One less weapon for Colbert to use this offseason, unfortunately.

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