Now the league has finally managed to work out what the Salary Cap will be in 2014 (why does it always take so long) the Steelers cap issues have taken on a new look with the official cap number of $133 million.
The Steelers go into the off season with a total cap number of about $138,771,000. That leaves them $5,771,000 over the cap. Assuming Levi Brown and his salary of $6,250,000 (no dead money) is the obvious cut you could consider the Steelers actually $479,000 under the cap as they get down to the serious business.
A restructure of Lawrence Timmons and Antonio Browns contracts is still likely as that would give the team some room to play with, netting around $4m for Timmons and $3.75m for Brown. This would put the Steelers $8,229,000 under the cap without having done much at all.
That certainly gives them enough space to start getting some offers out to the free agents they want to keep.
The cap is predicted to be around $140M in 2015 when, if Levi Brown is gone, the Steelers would have 23 players under contract and $62M in cap space as it stands right now.
Restructuring Antonio Brown would add $1.25M to his cap charge each year for the next 3 years for the $3.75M the team would get back this year.
Restructuring Lawrence Timmons would add $2M to his cap charge each year for the next 2 years for the $4M the team would get back this year. Timmons would be prime for an extension going into 2016 that would wipe out a big cap number too.
I think it is worth giving up the additional $3.25M next year and beyond for the savings of $7.75M this year.
Should the Steelers chose not to extend the contract of Ben Roethlisberger in 2014 then a restructure could save $5 million. It will of course make his cap charge go up by $5 million in 2015 but in the final year of his contract, then set to cost $23,395,000, he would have a new contract worked out anyway.
If the Steelers can afford to I certainly think they should leave the contracts of Heath Miller and Troy Polamalu alone going into the final year of their deals rather than extending them this year. Neither one is going anywhere in 2015 if the Steelers want them back and I cant see them wanting to start over elsewhere at their age. Give them 2014 to prove they have any value in 2015 rather than getting tied down to a commitment now.
If the Steelers want them back neither will costs anymore in 2015, when they are out of contract, than they could command under an extension this year. Probably cheaper to sign on one year deals in 2015 if they want them in all reality.
Ike Taylor possibly should be approached with the take a pay cut or get cut line to try and save $3M or so if he stays as against $7M if he goes.
I guess there is a chance Larry Foote gets cut, which would save another $1,166,666, but there doesn't seem to be any other cuts that would create any credible savings.
Mike Pouncey's cap charge of $5,264,000 is one that should be addressed now. It is the 9th highest among all centers in 2015. If the Steelers want to keep him long term there is nothing to be gained from waiting until he is a free agent in 2015. With such a high cap charge they are not saving anything in 2014 by not addressing his deal, it is costing them cap room unnecessarily. Any extension he signs should represent a saving against his current cap figure. Or trade him and save $3,863,375.
It would be somewhat surprising and also short sighted on the part of the front office if nothing happened with Pouncey's contract at all. That is unless they actually have doubts about whether they want him on the roster long term which could be the suggestion with no contract activity.
There are many way for the Steelers to approach the 2014 off season but it appears they have the options to create as much cap space as they feel they need in a variety of ways.