Steelers could be facing another purge of veterans


Last year, the Steelers had to cut players like linebacker James Farrior and receiver Hines Ward in order to get in line with the 2012 salary cap.

As Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette explains it, last year’s changes could be a “drop in the bucket” compared to what’s coming in 2013.

“The Steelers could lose every one of their free agents, and they might have to lose a few more veterans if they don’t agree to take less money in 2013,” Bouchette writes.  “They are so far over the salary cap that they would not be able to fill a 53-man roster without doing all of that.”

Prime candidates to be cut include linebacker James Harrison, who has a base salary of $6.57 million in 2013.  And while safety Troy Polamalu most likely won’t be released, his $7.5 million base salary puts him in line for, at a minimum, a new contract that pushes some of that money into future years.

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who has an $11.6 million base salary, could once again shuffle money around.  But there’s only so much that can be done with only three years left on his deal; at some point, an extension will be necessary.  (Meanwhile, an extra $2.675 million counts against this year’s cap after last year’s restructuring that freed up more than $8 million in cap space.)

The situation makes it crystal clear that receiver Mike Wallace will go elsewhere in March.  As Bouchette points out, G.M. Kevin Colbert already has said the team won’t use the franchise tag on anyone, and that’s the only way they would have kept Wallace, who is destined to be overpaid on the first day of free agency by someone like the Dolphins.

66 responses to “Steelers could be facing another purge of veterans

  1. Just keep pushing money into future years and wonder why every year there’s cap issues.

    The next few years will be interesting and they’ll show you exactly what a front office is made of… lots of bad contracts throughout the league. Why you’d structure a contract so that as a player ages (past their prime), they make more money year-over-year is beyond me.

  2. “Wallace, who is destined to be overpaid on the first day of free agency by someone like the Dolphins.”

    That got a laugh. This is a blessing in disguise for the Steelers its time for some new blood in there and they have plenty of young players ready to go. Remember, they went 8-8 and fielded the best D in the league with a rash of injuries last season. Most guys in line to leave weren’t on the field at 100% for the majority of the season.

  3. Yikes – this team is going to look vastly different this upcoming season. An 8-8 record will look awesome compared to what’s on the horizon. It’s a sad day when the Bengals are more competitive and relevant than the Steelers. Cheers!

  4. On the surface losing Harrison sounds horrific but the simple truth is he will never play a full NFL season again for any NFL team. The guy gave it his all and he is now facing the wear and tear of the NFL. Timmons was drafted to play right OL and they can move him there. They could do that and draft heavily on the inside linebacker position. The loss of Wallace will only hurt so much. The guy is a blazer but he is unreliable and has very inconsistent hands. Tomlin always joked Wallace was a one trick pony, and said that towards motivating Wallace, but at the end of the day that is exactly what he is. While the Steelers losing some core players will hurt the real issue will be younger players stepping up. If the players from the last 4 drafts don’t take a major step that will be the downfall of the Steelers.

  5. I’m sure most teams wouldn’t mind adding harrison if the price was right. Especially a young team like the eagles who are transitioning into a 3-4 allegedly.

  6. The window has closed steeler fans. If they continue to draft like they did last year they will be looking up at the Browns in the division. They shouldn’t think about extending Bens contract. He’s washed up.

  7. This is to be expected. The Steelers dominated the NFL between 2004-2011. It is time to reload and most rational steeler fans understand this. Restock and train some young bucks and in 2 seasons put together a nice roster to win one more superbowl at the end of Big Ben’s career.

  8. Colbert is the only GM I trust to handle these issues. Look how Newsome the GM for the ravens screwed up by not signing flacco last year. Now it will cost the Ratbirds 20 million a year for a mediocre QB. Colbert and the Steelers would of had flacco for 12 million a year! Steelers do it better than anyone!

  9. This is what invariably happens when you mortgage the future to make a run now. I just hope that the Ravens don’t fall into this same trap. Ozzie has kept us on a “Pay as you Go” course thus far, but the temptation is obviously great if a well run team like the Steelers have fallen into it.

    I’m not sure if they are losing much by letting Wallace go. They have other very capable receivers and this guy has an attitude problem. I would hate to play the Steelers without Polamalu though. One of the great players of our time. The thought of him in an Eagles uniform is depressing.

  10. Regardless of the Steelers salary cap issues, one thing we can all be sure of in 2013 is that the Browns will be inconsequential.

  11. Rough times for the Steelers. 8-8 with a Washed up Team. Ravens will continue to be Top of the Division. The Bengals will be Second. The Steelers are going to be fighting with the Browns to avoid bottom feeder status.

  12. Keep on trying to talk about the pending demise of the Steelers. They will be back next year and in contention for the division. Please reference the recent history of subsequent seasons after missing the playoffs. 8-8 was indeed weak this year but they didn’t get steamrolled by anyone except that dreadful game against the Chargers. They will be back! Enjoy the Trophy though, Ravens fans – your team earned it to for sure!! Looking forward to the rivalry launching back up!! Damn offseason…

  13. Big deal. SB caliber D this past season w/out TP and JH for the most part. It’s probably time to start looking for future QB anyhow. He’s only getting less mobile, and isn’t the greatest pocket QB.

  14. And for you bandwagon Steeler Fans talking about rebuilding and not being dominant – shut your trap and find some other team. They prove you wrong every year, and this season were playing lights-out until back-up QBs were needed.

  15. Ravens fan here. The Steelers have an outstanding organization (even though I hate them) and will rebound just fine. Their front office, like the ravens, knows what the heck they’re doing and will keep them competitive. Losing Wallace will be worth what they would have to give up to keep him….Hang tough, we love the competition.

  16. Except the Ravens actually draft people that contribute. Look at this current draft. They get a future Pro Bowl guard in mauler Kelechi Osemele, an incredibly high ceiling run-stuffing Courtney Upshaw, an awesome complement to Ray Rice in Pierce, who straight trucks people. You’ve got a future C in Gino Gradkowski who’s shown flashes of being a quality C, and undrafted rookie Justin Tucker who will probably be kicking in Baltimore for the next decade.

    The Steelers haven’t drafted like that in years.

  17. bigben….if flacco wasnt going to sign in balto for 16 why on earth would he take 12 to play in pitt. nothing personal steeler fans but this guy is pretty delusional

  18. @fuaholes

    Im a Steelers fan, so Ill chime in. If you have any knowledge of football, then you know that greatness doesnt last forever. Most teams would dream for the success the Steelers have had over the past number of years. If we have a bad year again, it will be tough, but so what?

    As a fan of the Steelers, an organization with a great track record, should I feel entitled to contending every single year? No, the NFL is built around teams having ups and downs. What makes a great organization is they dont let the downs last too long and they extend the ups.

    I think I have very reasonable expectations for the Steelers. I expect them to build and get back into contention, but not necessarily this year or the next. By contention let me be clear, I dont mean one and done in the playoffs.

    Teams have growing pains and when you have success for an extended period of time, eventually it will come back and bite you. And you know what? As a big Steelers fan who loves his team, Im not even the least bit upset. But then again Im not a troll and take things for what they are.

    Im not saying I want the Steelers to struggle, but if it ultimately leads to strong competition within the division, I believe thats a good thing overall. I hate the Ravens, but I respect them. Id love to see the Browns and Bengals also be respectable.

    I want our entire division to be the best, that way if and when the Steelers dominate again, I know it wasnt because they beat up on bad teams.

  19. I wish I could edit, but an outdated system for respond is in fact outdated. Anyway, @ thebonus44

    I dont think its fair to say the Steelers havent had drafts where guys contribute. There is no doubt that the Ravens have had more success with drafting recently than the Steelers, but lets just take this year for example.

    The Steelers drafted two offensive lineman, a spot in clear need of help. Is it their fault that both picks got hurt? You make it sound like the Steelers just pick some random guys who continue to be bust after bust and that just isnt accurate.

    How about Timmons? You consider him a non contributor?

  20. Everyone counts the steelers out every year age offensive line and so on but either way you want to talk about it there always competitive and will be back every team at some time has to go thru personnel change and this year won’t be no different so ravens fans congrats on Super Bowl well played but don’t make the mistake of over estimating the steelers

  21. Time to Reload and bring in talented youth in the draft. The Front office of the steelers are the one of the best in the NFL. After two 12-4 seasons and a 8-8 season the steelers will be back in competing for a division once again.

  22. Just keep pushing money into future years and wonder why every year there’s cap issues.

    The next few years will be interesting and they’ll show you exactly what a front office is made of… lots of bad contracts throughout the league. Why you’d structure a contract so that as a player ages (past their prime), they make more money year-over-year is beyond me.

    45 5
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    I forgot cue the ravenator and anymore of the clueless raven fans! Lol
    Even when you guys win a superbowl you still envy Pittsburgh lol priceless! 🙂

  23. The Patriots have rebuilt and not had a down year. The only player left from the 3 Super Bowls is Brady. The only other player with a ring is Wilfork. I know, they haven’t won a Super Bowl, but have been to two, and four AFCC games. Not bad for a rebuilding, yet still pretty good team.

  24. ravensallday2012 says:
    Feb 7, 2013 10:56 AM
    Actually they tried to sign flacco but they couldn’t agree…Pitt will be fighting the browns at the bottom of the afc north. Laughable organization

    Hilarious. The Steelers have been in the league since 1933, I think they understand how to build a team.

    That said, Baltimore will resign Flacco, without a doubt. My hunch/guess is probably in the charm city neighborhood of 18M/year, probably terms similar to Big Ben (in duration).

  25. Ben Sb stats in 2005, 9 of 21 123 yards and 2 ints. So lets be real that SB win was not on Bens arm. Randel El was the best QB that day

  26. As a Ravens fan, I don’t want to see our AFC North arch-enemies diminished by the cap. I want our games to continue to be epic clashes; I want to beat Pittsburgh at its best.

  27. bigbenownsthenfl says:
    Feb 7, 2013 12:56 PM
    Big Ben 2 super bowls flacco 1 nuff said!

    Actaully not enough said, Ben been in the league 4 years longer than Flacco.

    In the AFCN the team to beat will be the Bengals and I’m not even a fan. Us Ravens and Steeler fans need to look over our shoulders the red rifle is coming. Playoff appearances in his first two seasons.

  28. Despite ignorant trolls like pigpenownsnfl or whatever her name is, I hope the steelers get it all worked just as much as I hope my ravens get it worked out. It’s about competition and wanting to beat the best at their best. as I suspect level headed steeler fan would agree with me

  29. They need to make enough cap room to resign Keenan Lewis. They have a lot of vets not playing at their salary level, but have some young guys behind them. When they let Joey Porter go and put Harrison in, people thought it wouldnt work. Harrison, Polamalu, Clark, Taylor, and even Kiesel may be gone or take a paycut. Outside Ben and Brown, they dont have anyone on offense under contract. OL is fine, but always injured and Miller may miss most of the year.

    Many good teams are in the same situation this year. Expect a lot of vets cut just to get under the cap, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, and elsewhere.

  30. In 2005 Ben was the reason they were even in a super bowl. Beating manning in Indy while throwing for 300 yards. Not to mention the infamous bettis fumble that if it wasn’t for bens tackle there is no ad. Championship with Denver. Wher Ben threw for 350 yards! So learn your facts Stoogy. Although he didn’t play well in an. He played awesome til that game! You just got owned stooge!

  31. Not even close to being owned. Flacco never missed the playoffs, never one and done in the playoffs and was never tebowed in the playoffs. Did Ben ever beat Brady in playoffs? Never! We all know Manning chokes in the playoffs. And that overrated Denver team led by Plummer is nothing to brag about. Ben has been carried by his defense his whole career. One more thing Flacco is smart enough to get of the ball on time and sense pressure, he never missed a game. How many games has Ben missed the big baby.

  32. stoogy says:
    Feb 7, 2013 1:05 PM
    Ben Sb stats in 2005, 9 of 21 123 yards and 2 ints. So lets be real that SB win was not on Bens arm. Randel El was the best QB that day

    So with that line of thinking, Ray Lewis must stink. He only had four tackles in the Superbowl, no pics, no forced fumbles. Actually he didn’t do anything significant.

    Ben looked good to me in the SB v Arizona. The Superbowl against Seattle, he was in his 2nd year.

  33. bigbenowns:
    Roethlisberger was spectacular in the playoff games leading up to Super Bowl 40. But here’s the problem: He hasn’t played that well since. It’s a shame that we’re still talking about performances — albeit exceptional performances — from EIGHT, long years ago.
    It’s also a shame that Roethlisberger was in the midst of having what many were calling a “career-year” this past season before he was once again injured. I mean, it shouldn’t take NINE seasons to put together a “career year.” A “career year” by Roethlisberger is a routine year for the likes of Brady, Brees, Rodgers and Peyton Manning.
    Two Super Bowl wins: One TD pass. That’s hardly “owning the NFL.”

  34. bigbenownsnoone: Time to stop living in the past. What has Ben done lately other than throw late game int’s that result in a loss? His best years are over and honestly they were never that impressive. Flacco is the better QB right now and will continue to be the rest of his career. By the way, Ben only threw for 197 yds against Indy and 275 against Denver so you might want to get your facts straight.

  35. As a ravens fan, I don’t buy into the window closing on the steelers. While there fans might not be, the organization is first class. They still have Big Ben, who I still think is a top 5 qb. Ravens steelers games may be a bit different then other games throughout the season, but one thing I’ve learned is to never sleep on them. I for one hope they bounce back. These 2 teams keep each other great by continuing to raise the level of competition. If it wernt for the sorry browns (who I think are moving in the right direction) the afcn would be the hardest division in football.

  36. Once again Colbert and Khan have the Steelers cash strapped..To me the only players that earnd their $ on defense was Taylor Clark and Timmons.Woodley can go..Hampton and Keisel can go and so can #43..None of them have performd since 2010. Time to dump dead weight, trust ya draft picks, and be able to shop via free agency. So good for so many years..Management continued to pay regardless of performance, but teams like the Patriots continue to reload through the draft AND still have $ to get top free agents. Forget restructuring a lot of Steelers need to take PAYCUTS or just move on.

  37. Most Steelers fans knew when Farrior and Ward left that we’d be in the same situation this season. The span varies according to position and the impact of injuries, but the window of prime productivity is limited for all professional athletes.

    Of those you mentioned that are still under contract, I hope we’ll rework to keep Harrison and Polamalu on board a little longer. But Polamalu’s health concerns me. Otherwise, I’d like to re-sign Larry Foote, Will Allen, Keenan Lewis, Steve McLendon, Emmanuel Sanders, and Isaac Redman. I’m pretty flexible on everyone else. But Wallace can go to blue blazes.

  38. They will make their cuts. Get rid of some of the old faces and replace some through the draft. The receiving corps, OL, and DL are young and solid. They will be fine. This is one of the best organizations in sports. They always bounce back. Please underestimate them. That always works out… Right?

  39. The Steelers of the recent past (from 2003 to 2012) were built on defense. The Rooneys’ concerted effort to keep that group together paid dividends: Four No. 1 defensive rankings, three Super Bowl appearances and two Super Bowl victories.
    Players can (and will be) replaced. What can’t be replaced, however, is that all-important TEAM chemistry that it takes to sustain success. The Steelers, led by James Farrior, had a special defense, one not seen since the famous Steel Curtain Defenses of the 1970s.
    On offense, the Steelers miss the leadership of Hines Ward. Wallace, Brown and Sanders suddenly became undisciplined and scatterbrained for a reason: Ward was no longer there to remind them how to do their jobs.
    Throw in Mike Tomlin’s suspect coaching skills, and … this could be a long climb back to the top.

  40. stoogy, when did flacco beat brady? I thought they both played on offense and that there were 11 people on the field from both teams on each play. Sheesh, I was wrong all these years!

    Using your approach, in their most recent meeting batch beat flacco then, huh? That is funny.

  41. I think it is pretty clear that the Steelers’ problems last year were with injuries everywhere that exposed lack of depth at offensive skill positions.

    They are lacking a backup QB, they lack a clear #1 running back, and they lack a versatile 3d down back. I really like Dwyer and maybe he is the guy with a whole offseason, but Redman is not a complimentary back; he is the same kind of back. Baron Batch seems like a long shot but maybe if he gets healthy he can be a compliment.

    They need to commit to a backup QB that is decent and they need to sort out the WR line up without Wallace and possibly Sanders.

    I’m optimistic that the new o-line coach will be an improvement. They have skill there. they do a great job shuffling, but all the injuries need to stop. Hopefully they can help with revamping the training staff.

    Patience is what we need.

  42. @bobzilla …

    Excuse me, but isn’t it racist to say that an African American coach has suspect skills? Or is it only racist to say an African American quarterback couldn’t learn the playbook when you’re repeating comments made by his coaches?

    We had three African American backup quarterbacks. Two–Batch and Leftwich–mastered Arians’s system. According to Arians and Tomlin Dixon was unable to do so. My repeating their assessment regarding one and only one of three black quarterbacks who they said couldn’t learn the offense after two years with the team was not racist. It was factual. You’ve made clear that you don’t like me. I don’t care. But do not project your disturbing issues onto me.

  43. djjackson81 says: Feb 7, 2013 4:34 PM

    Steelers and Ravens are both in trouble with there cap moves coming. Can you say time to rebuild through the draft…

    Both teams have some work to do and will most likely have to part ways with some key individuals. But I think if recent history is any guide, both organizations will make wise choices. Neither would mortgage the future for one year of success.

  44. crownofthehelmet says: Feb 7, 2013 11:12 AM

    And for you bandwagon Steeler Fans talking about rebuilding and not being dominant – shut your trap and find some other team.


    If having the best record over the past four decades and the best defense of two different eras doesn’t make you dominant, then what does? Just because you root for mediocre garbage doesn’t mean you have to have a chip on your shoulder.

  45. Here’s how “dumb” Tomlin thought Dixon was: At the conclusion of the 2010 training camp, he named Dixon the starter over Batch to replace the suspended Roethlisberger.

  46. @bobzilla …

    And look how long that lasted. As I said, my comments were based on what Tomlin and Arians repeatedly said about having to simplify the playbook for Dixon. I have no problem with him personally, and anyone who has read my comments over any length of time knows my comment about his inability to learn the playbook wasn’t race-based. You’ve been dogging and nitpicking my comments for months–that’s fine. But when you call me racist just because you have an issue with my comments, you’ve crossed a line. Find another obsession.

  47. I’m pretty sure had either Tomlin or Arians had said that Dixon was too dumb to learn the playbook, the Pittsburgh sports media might’ve noticed and reported it…
    The playbook was modified because of Dixon’s inexperience. The only reason Batch eventually replaced Dixon in 2010 was due to an injury Here’s how it worked out: The Steelers went 3-1 without Roethlisberger.
    If you are going to pretend to know something that you don’t actually know, you’ll be called out.
    Pretty simple.

  48. After the season Wallace had last year, he should be thankful that any team would bother to sign him. In the rare event he actually caught a pass, he had a 50/50 shot of fumbling it away anyhow.

  49. If Dixon remaind on the roster this year I’m sure they would have won those games Ben missd..And maybe Ben dosent get rushd back to play still hurt. They better get a reliable back-up QB via free agency or they’ll be in the same situation as before.

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