As the start of free agency is about to begin the Steelers look to have around $8 million in cap space available to spend. With the June 1st cut of Woodley they do not need to save money for their draft class but with so many holes to fill across the roster they will be looking for bargains in free agency once again.
A look at the current depth chart as it stands right now does not make good reading:
Currently there are 19 players on the free agent market who were under contract to the Steelers last year. Even if the Steelers could hope to find 8 suitable candidates from the draft for the 53 man roster, which would be a high number from them, there appears to be a lot of work to do over the coming weeks/months.
Looking at free agency I would imagine the Steelers will be looking for:
1) At least 1 RB - Dwyer should be cheap, Stephens-Howling should be around the vet minimum again after his injury, Felix Jones surely would cost the veteran minimum again or a new FA ?
3) At least 1 WR - Cotchery makes the most sense. Probably wants a bit more than veteran minimum, bargain if he takes that though. Any low cost FA'a out there ?
4) At least 1 OL for depth - Guy Whimper is probably low cost, Velasco is he cheap post injury ?, Cody Wallace also likely low cost or a new FA ?
So a lot of that $8 million is earmarked for a variety of positions. What is left cash wise could go to a FA splash at WR, CB or Safety as long as the contract is less than $4 million or so in the first year. They could probably wait until after the draft to fill one or two of these roster spots if they wanted to and still get the guy they want at positions like RB.
If they could fill out some of the backup roles with players like Kiesel, Stephens-Howling, Cotchery, and Velasco accepting the veteran minimum and being eligible for the veteran discount they could save millions. Their salaries would be around $635,000 each for cap purposes and with the rule of 51 displacement would actually only add $215,000 to the current cap each - just not sure how realistic that is. Although this is the deal Will Allen just accepted.
Personally I am hoping some cash can be found for
Dexter McCluster. I think he would look good in black and gold as a slot receiver, kick and punt returner and change of pace running back. Pat Angerer is my other personal favorite. A tackling machine when healthy.
Still the option to get a quick $4 million from restructuring Timmons contract if they need fast money and further savings could be had by sorting a long term deal for Worilds or Roethlisberger (or even a restructure in his case) that could provide around another $10 million.
A lot to be done but looking at the current depth chart it is unavoidable.
Edit: Updated to include Mike Mitchell. Safety depth looks ok now at least, Also added Greg Warren and Cody Wallace. The Steelers should have around $5 million or more in cap space I would imagine without knowing Wallace's contract at this point.