FanPost

Would Cuts and FA Signings Make Steelers Better?

Bumped from the fanposts with only minor edits made by myself. A fun discussion starter even if much is based on best-guess salary figures and speculation about what the new CBA might look like with regards to free agency. Thanks to him and all of you for continuing to bring the goods each and every week.  - Michael B. -

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Just imagine that we are looking at a world where a new CBA exists, and the only thing we have to worry about isn't raises for players, or even if football exists next year, but whether or not the Steelers could (or should) cut enough money off their roster to make a big move in free agency. Whenever that happens to occur (if at all) in the 2011 calendar year.

Below is a best-guess overview of 2011 salaries, followed by a hypothetical Q&A session about possible roster subtractions + free agent additions.

#

Name

Pos.

Age

Exp.

Final Season

Base Salary

Cap Charge

71

Adams, Flozell

T

35

13

2011

$5,000,000

$5,000,000

26

Allen, Will

S

28

7

2012

$1,265,000

$1,590,000

N/A

Atkins, Baraka

DE

26

4

2012

$405,000

$405,000

16

Batch, Charlie

QB

36

13

2011

$865,000

$865,000

81

Battle, Arnaz

WR

30

8

2012

$1,038,000

$1,363,000

87

Bright, Eugene

TE

25

1

2012

$330,000

$330,000

77

Brooks, Dorian

G

23

R

2012

$330,000

$330,000

84

Brown, Antonio

WR

22

R

2012

$405,000

$429,000

28

Butler, Crezdon

CB

23

R

2012

$405,000

$445,000

25

Clark, Ryan

FS

31

9

2013

$2,500,000

$3,250,000

27

Dwyer, Jonathan

RB

21

R

2012

$405,000

$431,000

90

Ellis, Chris

LB

25

3

2012

$480,000

$480,000

51

Farrior, James

ILB

36

14

2012

$2,825,000

$3,825,000

50

Foote, Larry

ILB

30

9

2012

$2,400,000

$3,000,000

73

Foster, Ramon

T

25

2

2011

$480,000

$483,000

19

Grisham, Tyler

WR

23

1

2012

$405,000

$405,000

98

Hampton, Casey

NT

33

10

2012

$3,910,000

$7,077,000

92

Harrison, James

OLB

32

7

2014

$3,660,000

$7,360,000

96

Hood, Ziggy

DE

23

2

2013

$600,000

$1,629,000

N/A

Ivy, Mortty

LB

24

R

2012

$330,000

$330,000

85

Johnson, David

TE

23

2

2011

$480,000

$491,000

N/A

Johnson, James

RB

26

R

2012

$330,000

$330,000

67

Jolly, Kyle

T

23

R

2012

$330,000

$330,000

13

Kapinos, Jeremy

P

26

3

2011

$410,000

$410,000

99

Keisel, Brett

DE

32

9

2013

$3,025,000

$4,025,000

68

Kemoeatu, Chris

G

28

6

2013

$2,973,000

$4,000,000

4

Leftwich, Byron

QB

31

8

2011

$1,750,000

$1,850,000

23

Lewis, Keenan

CB

24

2

2011

$480,000

$640,000

N/A

Lyons, Wes

WR

?

R

2012

$330,000

$330,000

N/A

McCaskill, Nevin

G

27

R

2012

$330,000

$330,000

N/A

McCoy, Chris

LB

24

R

2012

$330,000

$330,000

N/A

McCoy, Jamie

TE

23

 

2012

$330,000

$330,000

20

McFadden, Bryant

CB

29

6

2012

2,500,000

$2,667,000

69

McLendon, Steve

DT

25

1

2011

$405,000

$405,000

34

Mendenhall, Rashard

RB

23

3

2012

$613,000

$1,883,000

83

Miller, Heath

TE

28

6

2014

$3,386,000

$5,586,000

43

Polamalu, Troy

SS

29

8

2011

$6,400,000

$8,595,000

53

Pouncey, Maurkice

C

21

R

2014

$405,000

$5,429,000

82

Randle El, Antwaan

WR

31

9

2012

$2,000,000

$2,300,000

33

Redman, Isaac

RB

26

1

2011

$405,000

$405,000

7

Roethlisberger, Ben

QB

28

7

2015

$11,600,000

$15,800,000

88

Sanders, Emmanuel

WR

23

R

2012

$405,000

$600,000

61

Scott, Chris

T

23

R

2012

$405,000

$452,000

91

Smith, Aaron

DE

34

12

2011

$4,500,000

$6,100,000

78

Starks, Max

T

29

7

2012

$5,140,000

$7,240,000

80

Sweed, Limas

WR

26

3

2011

$555,000

$938,000

55

Sylvester, Stevenson

ILB

22

R

2012

$405,000

$444,000

94

Timmons, Lawrence

ILB

24

4

2011

$650,000

$2,798,000

17

Wallace, Mike

WR

24

2

2011

$480,000

$665,000

86

Ward, Hines

WR

34

13

2013

$3,000,000

$4,610,000

N/A

Warren, Donovan

CB

22

R

2012

$330,000

$330,000

N/A

Waters, Swayze

K

23

R

2012

$330,000

$330,000

97

Worilds, Jason

OLB

22

R

2013

$405,000

$760,000

Totals

Payroll: (base '10 salaries): $83,045,000

Salary Cap: $120,350,000

***************

With that data at our disposal, let's ask ourselves some specific questions about free agency that could potentially make the Steelers better.

Question: Could we cut enough money off of next years' roster to sign a big free agent?

  • Answer: Yes

 

Question: Whom should we cut? (If anyone?)

  • Answer(s): Flozell Adams: Salary: $5,000,000; competition for position (Draft Pick, Willie Colon, Jonathon Scott)
  • Analysis: Flozell is not worth the 5 million he is being paid. Willie Colon (if brought back) will likely be the starter, so 5 million for a backup is a lot to pay. Although we saw that we lack depth on the O-line this year, I think it might be wise to either keep Flozell as a transitional player until we draft a replacement, or just cut him lose and sign a bargain to be a back-up.
  • Conclusion: Cut Flozell and sign Colon for 4.5-5 million over 4 years.

 

Arnaz Battle:  Salary: $1,363,000; competition for position (already have 5 wideouts and Sweed is returning).

  • Analysis: He is an un-needed commodity and easily replaceable on special teams.
  • Conclusion: Cut, save 1.4 Million

 

Larry Foote: Salary: $3,000,000; competition for position (Sylvester and possible draft picks, not to mention Keyaron Fox possibly being retained)

  • Analysis: Foote is a good backup, but barely saw the field in the last half of the season. James Farrior is getting old, and injuries happen, but for the price, Foote is not better than the younger, cheaper guys still on the roster.
  • Conclusion: Cut and save 3 Million, draft another replacement and promote Sylvester to main backup.

 

Antwaan Randle El:  Salary $2,300,000; competition for position (Randle El became the 5th wide-out for the Steelers, Sweed is coming back, possible cheaper 5th option as a FA or Draft Pick)

  • Analysis: Randle El was demoted from 3rd to 5th on the depth chart at wide-out. Sweed is coming back, and he might be a huge bust, but I think healthy he at least can play the 5th position (or a DFA or FA would be able to come in at a much cheaper level. Randle El doesn't have much up-side anymore, and he will be supplanted as the main punt-return man by either Brown or Sanders next year. He still adds thoughness, a veteran presence and sure hands.
  • Conclusion: Sorry Twaan, you just aren't worth that kind of money anymore. Cut and save 2.3 Million.

 

Aaron Smith: Salary: $6,100,000; competition for position (Ziggy Hood, draft pick as backup)

  • Analysis: This is the toughest guy on this list of possible cuts. Smith is the best 3-4 DE to ever play the game. I would much rather him restructure for a lower salary, but since we aren't playing that game, we are looking at a 6.1 million hit for a guy who has had a hard time staying on the field and is 34. Ziggy was fantastic and finally lived up to that 1stround pick. He should be a starter next year. Brett Keisel made the pro-bowl, is younger and cheaper than Smith. With the age on our line, we need to get younger anyways, so most people think we will be drafting another high pick DL in this years or next years draft. Why should he stay? Well he is still fantastic and a game-changer when he is on the field. But who do we bench next year if not him? Ziggy who is finally living up to his potential and has nothing more to learn from the bench? Or maybe Brett who is younger and had his best overall year (a great year where he made amazing plays for us)?
  • Conclusion: Cut and save 6.1 Million. I would prefer a restructure, but as much as it pains me, Aaron doesn't have a spot in the starting lineup, and he is a huge injury risk. Cutting him could allow us to sign a true difference maker, or will at least free up room to keep our own guys.

 

Max Starks: Salary: $7,240,000; competition for position (Jonathan Scott, Draft Pick)

  • Analysis: There is no true replacement for Stark on this current roster. He is only 29 and he is proven at his position. He will never be the best LT in the game, but when healthy he is pretty solid and could help stabilize the line for a while until his replacement is found. The only way he is cut is if they draft an LT in the first round and believe he is ready to start immediately (an option I highly doubt with the track record of the Steelers).
  • Conclusion: Keep. Unless he has a 1st rounder as a replacement, there is no one else to step in on that side of the line. Scott is not a starter for a full season at this league. But if they find a guy in the draft who can start right away, cut him and save the 7.24 Million.

 

Total Payroll Savings: 

$12.8 Million (plus difference of salary between Adams and Colon)

 


*Salaries represent total cap hit, not just base salary.

 

Question: Who should we target with our saved money? Would they be worth it?

Areas of Need: DL, OL, CB, ILB

Potential free agent acquisitions might include:


Nnamdi Asomugha

  • Projected Contract: $10+ million / year for 4 years.
  • Analysis: Signing one of the 2 best corners in the league would be a dream. We would be able to lock down opponents in the pass, as well as in the run. This would take the Steelers defense from best in the NFL to best all-time consideration. But simply put, we can't do this. It isn't the Steeler way to sign big time FA's and this signing would leave the Steelers in cap trouble for years to come.
  • Conclusion: Would be one of the best FA acquisitions in team history, but there is no way it could or should happen. Don't Sign.

Champ Bailey

  • Projected Contract: 6.5 Million per year for 3 years.
  • Analysis: Champ is getting older and isn't what he used to be, but he is still a pretty good corner and is better than all other CB's on the roster other than Ike Taylor. Champ and Ike would make for an aging group, but a pretty stellar one for a few years until the Steelers drafted their replacements.
  • Conclusion: The money would be steep, but if the Steelers feel he fits the model of the team and if Champ is willing to take a slight pay cut for the chance at a title, this could happen. Chance of happening: 20%

Logan Mankins

  • Projected Contract: 7 Million per year for 4-5 years.
  • Analysis: Mankins is one of the better guards in the NFL, but at the price it would take to sign him, is he really that much better than a high round draft pick, who will be much cheaper and younger?
  • Conclusion: I don't see how Mankins fits into the Steeler mold or financial structure. He is a lot like Asomugha insomuch as he would be a great addition and would make the team more dominant, but at too high of a price to be worth it.

Brodney Pool:

  • Projected Contract: 4 Million per year for 4 years.
  • Analysis: Pool had some really good years in Cleveland and hasn't been great as a Jet, but he might be better (and is certainly younger) than Ryan Clark. He would be a solid addition to our secondary, but I think corner is a bigger need at the moment.
  • Conclusion: Don't sign. He would be an upgrade (probably) over Clark, but paying them both would be a waste, and I wouldn't want the Steelers to cut Clark to sign Pool.

Bob Sanders:

  • Projected Contract: 5 Million per year for 3 years (higher signing bonus, lower base salary).
  • Anaylsis: Sanders would be dynamic next to Troy. I never bought into the hype that he was DPOY worthy, or that he was equal or right behind Troy and Ed Reed, but he is still a pretty good safety, when healthy. Luckily for him, signing with the Steelers would allow him to stay off the line and possibly avoid injuries while still allowing for interceptions and jarring hits over the middle.
  • Conclusion: Don't sign. While he is an upgrade (when healthy) over Clark, he would benefit from being a Steeler more than the Steelers would benefit from having him. People talk about putting him in the system he knows (Cover-2), but that system has proven to get him hurt. He needs to go to a team where he can play Ed Reeds role, not Troy Polamalu's.

Jermon Bushrod

  • Projected Contract: 5.5 Million per year for 4 years.
  • Analysis: For those of you who don't know, Bushrod is a pretty good OT from the Saints. Not much to say other than he is a good protector, doesn't allow a lot of sacks, and is decently mobile. He would be an upgrade over any tackle the Steelers have, though I think he would be better suited at RT for our line.
  • Conclusion: If we cut Flozell and don't resign Colon, Bushrod is the perfect piece to anchor our line from the right. If we keep either of those though, there isn't room for him on this team.

Brent Grimes

  • Projected Contract: 5 Million per year for 5 years. (Large signing bonus).
  • Analysis: Because Grimes is a restricted FA, the Steelers would have to part with picks to get him. He might very well be worth them, but that is the biggest thing to consider. He would move in as the #2 starter with Ike, and by the end of this contract would be the clear #1 on the team. He is a cheaper option than Asomugha or Bailey to make our secondary much better.
  • Conclusion: It really depends on what it would take to get him away from Atlanta. But this is the first guy I think the Steelers should really push hard for.

Tyson Clabo

  • Projected Contract: 6 Million per year for 5 years.
  • Analysis: Clabo is an anchor on Atlanta's pretty solid line. He could come in and take Max Starks out of the position (which would more than pay for his salary).
  • Conclusion: I think it really depends on the salary he is willing to sign for, but he would be a definite upgrade.

Paul Posluszny

  • Projected Contract: 4.5 Million per year for 5 years.
  • Analysis: On this current team, Posluszny is a backup. Kind of crazy to think about since he had 151 tackles last year (the 3rd most in the NFL) in only 14 games. He would be Farrior's obvious replacement, but with the rise of Sylvester, he may not be needed. If we didn't have Farrior, I would make this signing in a heartbeat, but I don't know how Posluszny takes a bench job after the season he had.
  • Conclusion: Don't sign. It would be worth it to have him at that contract, but he won't sign to be a backup, and Farrior is still a starter in this league.

Thoughts?

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