It just keeps getting better for fans of a higher salary cap.
ESPN's Adam Schefter reported last week the cap projects to be around $130 million, a five percent increase from 2013. John Clayton of ESPN is now reporting the cap is now at $132 million.
According to a source, the projection for the 2014 salary cap is now at $132 million.— John Clayton (@ClaytonESPN) February 22, 2014
With little to no detail behind where these numbers are coming from, we're inclined to believe them cautiously, but it would provide even more reason to think the Steelers are just a few simple moves away from cap compliance, and another few obvious moves from generating enough space to become players on the free agency market, to some extent.
The Steelers flirted briefly with Victor Butler, a free agent of the Cowboys last year, before he signed a three-year deal with the New Orleans Saints. Butler tore his ACL, causing him to miss the 2013 season. If the Steelers have the additional cap space available due to an increased cap as opposed to attrition (which is likely anyway, with or without a cap increase), it's likely they'll look to re-stock their roster with a few fresh faces.
The future level of contributory value of inside linebacker Sean Spence is linked into all of this. Veteran ILB Larry Foote is slated to make $1.5 million next season, coming off a significant injury. Spence, along with 2013 rookie Vince Williams, would look to be competitors with Foote for that position. Williams showed himself to be a limited player throughout the year (adjustments made to the fact he was inexperienced and not expected to start, or even play, in 2013).
If the Steelers feel they can get a healthy, younger inside linebacker on an affordable deal, it would be a good idea. their depth at the position was so shallow in 2013, Troy Polamalu played inside linebacker much of the season.
Keep an eye on Indianapolis ILB Kavell Conner. He could find himself in the position to be acquired for a relatively low amount of money but could make an immediate impact.
The way Indianapolis has dealt with Kavell is just beyond confusing. Media personnel and even Pro Football Focus have even backed up my thoughts that Conner has out performed nearly every linebacker that has received playing time in front of him. I'm assuming Indianapolis has high hopes for Jerrell Freeman, Kelvin Sheppard, & Josh McNary. But, Conner should be retained along with them. Honestly though, if Indianapolis can find a talented enough player, an upgrade at the ILB position is needed for this team. Jerrell Freeman has soured high above any reasonable expectations anyone could have ever set for him. But, for Chuck Pagano's defense to truly be effective Indianapolis will need to find an ILB that will make Freeman his number 2. In the meantime though, contingent on Josh McNary's development, Conner should be retained as Freeman's number 2.
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