Yes, the Steelers extended the contract of safety Troy Polamalu and tight end Heath Miller. Yes, it means that the Steelers won’t be cutting either guy.
But it doesn’t mean either guy will be around after this year.
For now, Polamalu and Miller aren’t getting any more money on their contract extensions. As explained by Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, these extensions are glorified restructurings, aimed at adding years into which 2014 cap dollars can be dumped.
As to Miller, $3.3 million in cap space was created. As to Polamalu, $4.5 million has been cleared. The $7.8 million saved now will hit the cap in future years.
Next year, the Steelers will have to decide whether to keep Polamalu at a cap number of $8.25 million or dump him and absorb a cap charge of $4.5 million, which would be split between 2015 and 2016 if Polamalu is designated as a post-June 1 release. For Miller, the question will be whether to carry a $7.5 million cap number or eat $5 million (or $2.5 million in 2015 and 2016).
While Bouchette suggests that Miller and Polamalu each “took one for the team,” the real question is whether another team would have paid Miller $6 million and/or Polamalu $8.25 million in 2014. It’s tampering for other teams to show their potential intentions regarding players under contract elsewhere, but it’s good business for the players’ agents to inquire.
Moving forward, the only inquiry will be whether these new three-year deals are anything more than one-year cap fixes aimed at keeping a couple of the franchise’s faces around for another season.