But it'll be pretty sweet at that point. The Steelers' draft class is paid for with it, and there is still money that could be spent on a free agent, depending on how this free agency period as well as the 2014 NFL Draft goes for Pittsburgh.
One issue, however, is the replacement of Healthy Woodley, which, give his 55-70 percent availability rate, figures to be a player of reasonable skill at a significantly lower salary (and injury-free).
Considering the Steelers will have the players they can reasonably say right now will start for them over the next two seasons (something we said about Woodley after his extension in 2011), getting a game-ready pass-rushing outside linebacker now may not be the team's biggest priority. However, for a team that combined for 32 sacks last year - a two-decade low for a team that used to sack the quarterback with ease and predictability - getting anyone at all who can help get to the highest paid position in the game would be beneficial.
That will be up to and including outside linebackers, defensive ends, nose tackles, cornerbacks, safeties, nickel backs, coaches, equipment managers, hot dog vendors and the guy who plays the violin outside PNC Park after Pirates games.
It's odd the Steelers cleared up $8 million on the cap this year while taking somewhere around the $13 million mark in dead money over the next two years for Woodley, and are currently on the hook for $9.75 million for the transition tag of Jason Worilds. This is a team that hasn't gotten after the quarterback, yet, it pays more for that position (and likely still will this time next year) than any other non-Ben Roethlisberger position on the field. They even added a first round pick to it in 2013.
At the same time, though, no sacks. Decent individual pressure numbers, but few sacks and a sagging overall defense. If Woodley's release can help with those things, even if it is simply the elimination of the most expensive player in team history per snap (he beats out Duce Staley by THISMUCH), then great. But the issue is still the same here; the Steelers need to find a way to get after the quarterback.