For Steelers, salary cap concerns become imminent
The Steelers are one of only five NFL teams that are more than $10 million above the projected 2013 salary cap of $121 million less than a month before the March 12 compliance deadline.
And it could be worse.
According to salaries compiled by sports contract website Spotrac, the Steelers have $134.8 million committed to players — or about $14 million above the cap.
Still, the Steelers are in better position cap-wise than they were a year ago when they were about $25 million above the cap. They got under by restructuring a number of contracts (Ben Roethlisberger, LaMarr Woodley, Lawrence Timmons, Ike Taylor, Willie Colon) and by cutting ties with veterans James Farrior, Hines Ward, Aaron Smith, Bryant McFadden, Arnaz Battle and Chris Kemoeatu.
The roster could experience a comparable shake-up this year.
Wide receiver Mike Wallace, running back Rashard Mendenhall and offensive linemen Max Starks and Ramon Foster could sign elsewhere. Veterans Casey Hampton, Larry Foote, Willie Colon, Ryan Mundy and Byron Leftwich are among those who could be let go.
Cornerback Keenan Lewis is an unrestricted free agent the Steelers are likely to make a primary target.
General manager Kevin Colbert has hinted that significant moves could be made.
“You make decisions to sustain or make decisions to change, and this year we have to make decisions to change,” Colbert said.
The other teams currently well above the cap are the New York Jets ($150.3 million), New Orleans Saints ($147 million), Dallas Cowboys ($143.7 million) and Carolina Panthers ($132.7 million).
The Arizona Cardinals ($127.7 million), San Francisco 49ers ($125.9 million), Philadelphia Eagles ($123.9 million) and Seattle Seahawks ($122.5 million) also are above the cap.
The Steelers have about a half-million dollars in dead money for players no longer on the team whose contracts still count against the cap, $87.8 million in base salaries, $27.6 million in bonus money and $19.9 million in other bonuses.
The Steelers' AFC North rivals are well below the cap, including the Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens ($107 million). The Cincinnati Bengals are a league-best $46 million below the cap at $75.6 million, despite making the playoffs the past two seasons. The Cleveland Browns — headed by new, deep-pockets owner Jimmy Haslam — are significantly below the cap at $83.1 million, giving them considerable flexibility to make moves during the free-agent signing period.
The Indianapolis Colts and Miami Dolphins also have enough cap room to make major moves.
In their current position, the Steelers can't chase any of the immediate-impact free agents.
“We've signed significant players (as free agents), but they have been few and far between,” Colbert said. “We have to be open to that, but at what cost?”
As teams head to the scouting combine in Indianapolis next week to evaluate players in the 2013 draft class, the Steelers are expected to begin making moves to get under the cap.
“It will include terminations. It will include (contract) extensions and restructurings,” Colbert said recently. “The combination of the three will get us in compliance. ... But if you want to terminate someone, you'd better have a replacement. If you extend someone, you have to have confidence that player will see it out. If you restructure, you'd better be confident going forward you don't hurt yourself cap-wise.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Burnett’s stellar start paves way for Pirates’ victory over Diamondbacks
- Spirit Airlines lifts fortunes of Arnold Palmer Regional Airport
- Penguins president: General manager, coach won’t be fired
- Experts: If health insurers’ safeguard goes broke, consumers could pay
- Rossi: Penguins’ best bet is on Martin
- Rossi: Rutherford falling apart, too
- Hip science: Rock-star physicists make tough concepts easier to understand
- From injuries to front office, Penguins’ season didn’t lack drama
- Elites, media & character
- It’s business, but not as usual in Pittsburgh
- High risk, reward with 1st-round quarterbacks in NFL Draft