News broke out Tuesday morning of OT Willie Colon's willingness to prorate $3.8 million of the $4.5 million he's owed in 2012 over the remaining four years of his deal. Saving the team another $2.85 million against its 2012 salary cap is good progress, but there's still $5-6 million to go, according to Football Outsider writer Brian McIntyre.
The total savings created so far this off-season through player releases and contract restructures is around $18 million - but freeing up $5-6 million more would only reach the estimated 2012 salary cap. The total savings figure the Steelers are aiming for will include all restricted free agent tenders, rookie contracts and a cash fund for in-season transactions.
And all of that is before a possible franchise tag for WR Mike Wallace. With that looming as a possibility, the Steelers still have a lot of work to do to get to the cap point they'll need to field the strongest team they can.
Reports have circulated that QB Ben Roethlisberger and OLB James Harrison are in discussions for contract restructures as well. Roethlisberger seems the most likely, considering how often he's stated his desire to win ahead of individual accolades. If that's the case, he'd help his team's cause by having the Steelers tack on another year or two to his current deal, and then spreading money from this season across the full duration just like the other restructures.
Harrison may be a tougher bet, considering he restructured last season. But incidentally, restructuring did make his one-game suspension cost far less than it would have been otherwise.
The top 51 contracts on each team must be below the salary cap by 4 p.m. ET March 13. This may go down to the wire, but it seems like the Steelers have a plan in place and are sticking to it.