Instead of taking a draft pick and a $1.323 million cap reduction, the Steelers went the opposite direction when they chose to match the offer sheet signed by Emmanuel Sanders with the New England Patriots.
It doesn't destroy their cap situation, but it doesn't make it any more comfortable heading into the season, either. It didn't take long into training camp before a few injuries shifted plans along their offensive line - they re-signed veteran offensive tackle Max Starks and began giving reps at tackle to Ramon Foster.
Their ability to react to injuries is hampered without the money free to be able to make a signing like that.
So how do they get it?
The simplest move they could make right now would be removing the right of first refusal tender given to running back Isaac Redman.
He's also due $1.323 million this season, fully guaranteed if Redman signs it. As of Monday, he has not.
Restricted free agency ends April 19, and the fact he hasn't signed doesn't suggest anything more than he wishes to exercise his collectively bargained right to explore the market. However, rival RB Jonathan Dwyer signed his nearly as quickly as he received it, meaning, the Steelers would have at least one running back who played in 2012 on their roster for this season.
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said it himself, the team needs to add a running back.
Baron Batch is under contract as well.
The team has visited with Michigan State RB Le'veon Bell and UCLA RB Jonathan Franklin. Wisconsin RB Montee Ball was a prolific zone runner in Wisconsin's scheme. None of these players should be taken in the first round, and there's a good chance at least one of them will last into the third.
There's also the special teams angle. The release of RB Chris Rainey leaves them with a need for a kick returner as well. Looking at running backs with return ability isn't a terrible idea. It makes sense from a cost perspective to relieve Redman of his RFA status and let him explore the market.
Perhaps he doesn't find anything he likes and comes back. It worked that way for Stevenson Sylvester, and with the draft just 10 days away, it's possible he won't sign anywhere until after teams get a look at their rookie classes and re-assess where their roster is in terms of depth.
Will the Steelers want to give Dwyer the keys to an offense that shared carries between three backs at various times last season? The extra cap space could be put toward an incentive-laden deal for free agent running back Ahmad Bradshaw - a player with whom the Steelers have visited twice this off-season as he recuperates from foot surgery.
If Bradshaw is healthy enough to perform - not a guarantee by any stretch - he's clearly shown to be a more effective runner than Redman has. Keeping two veterans along with developing a rookie in the multi-back system employed by offensive coordinator Todd Haley makes sense.
And it wouldn't cost the Steelers anything to remove Redman's tender.