Steelers training camp preview: 4 money-related questions
Not all training camp questions pertain to matters on the field.
Historically, the Pittsburgh Steelers use August and early September to take care of “future business,” which is getting their financial house in order for beyond the upcoming season.
It is the time of year the Steelers dole out new contracts to players, coaches and front-office members alike. Here are four financial questions that could be addressed once training camp begins Thursday at Saint Vincent:
1. Will Mike Tomlin, Kevin Colbert get extensions?
The Steelers traditionally have extended the contract of their coach when he has two seasons remaining on his deal. Tomlin got his latest two-year extension in August 2017, and he is due to be renewed again this summer.
Tomlin’s contract runs through the 2020 season.
Team president Art Rooney II told reporters in January that any decision made regarding Tomlin wouldn’t take place until after free agency and the draft. The time is approaching for Tomlin’s fate beyond 2020 to be determined.
Colbert had two years added to his deal at the end of August 2017. His contract expires after the 2020 draft, so he also is in line for an extension.
2. Will any members of 2016 draft class get second contracts?
Using their self-imposed deadline, the Steelers have until Sept. 8 to get their impending free agents signed to long-term deals. Starters from the 2016 draft class who are scheduled to hit free agency in March are free safety Sean Davis and nose tackle Javon Hargrave. Another candidate is linebacker Tyler Matakevich, a core special teams player.
Davis switched agents, aligning himself with Drew Rosenhaus, the most high-profile member of his profession. Determining value for Davis could be difficult because he has started only one season at free safety after opening the previous two seasons as a slot corner and strong safety, respectively. With Rosenhaus in Davis’ corner, the price tag might be too high for the Steelers’ liking.
Hargrave also represents an interesting case. He has started three seasons at nose tackle, but he often leaves the field in subpackages, which the Steelers play almost 75 percent of the time on defense. Hargrave never has logged more than 47 percent of the defensive snaps in his three seasons, and the Steelers could be reluctant to give a big contract to a part-time player.
3. Will Joe Haden get a new deal?
When the Cleveland Browns surprisingly cut their veteran cornerback late in the 2017 preseason, the Steelers quickly swooped in and signed Haden to a three-year, $27 million deal.
It might seem hard to believe, but Haden is entering the final season of that contract, and he is a prime candidate for an extension. A new contract would help the Steelers in two areas: it would lock up their dependable cornerback for multiple seasons, and it would help them lessen his cap hit. Haden has a $10 million base salary and will count $11.9 million against the salary cap this season barring an extension.
4. Will Mike Hilton report to camp on time?
In mid-June, Hilton told the Tribune-Review the thought of holding out “hasn’t even crossed my mind.”
As the reporting date approaches, could Hilton’s tune change?
Because he has not signed his $645,000 exclusive rights tender, Hilton remains the team’s only unsigned player. Hilton is following in the footsteps of offensive lineman Alejandro Villanueva, who didn’t sign his tender in 2017 and received a four-year, $24 million contract on the day players reported to Saint Vincent.
Hilton also is seeking a long-term contract, but he doesn’t hold the leverage that Villanueva did two years ago. Like Davis, Hilton changed representation and is being advised by Rosenhaus.
Joe Rutter is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Joe by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .