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Steelers cut candidates: What would the Steelers save if these players are released?

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The Steelers are at roughly $10 million under the cap, and have the ability to go lower than that. Here's a rundown of players who have cut-friendly contracts heading into 2015.

Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers will have freed up approximately $10 million when the contract restructure of Maurkice Pouncey officially hits the books. If initial indications are correct, that the Steelers intend to let outside linebacker Jason Worilds hit the free agency market, efforts to retain other pending free agents will likely take up the bulk of that space.

Should the Steelers want to free up some more space, here are a few roster decisions they can make.

Note: This is not saying the Steelers will make any of these moves (except one), or even that they should. It's just a look at money that can be saved, should they choose to go this route. Every player released must be replaced, and the cap numbers quoted below do not include displacement.

Cut

Troy Polamalu
Cap number: $8.25 million

Salary: $6 million
Dead Money: $2.25 in 2015, $2.25 in 2016

The Steelers would save $6 million in cap space that would clear on June 2, giving them roughly enough to sign the 2015 draft class. They'd shrink the cap by $2.25 million both in 2015 and 2016 for the release. If they feel Shamarko Thomas is capable of filling in his spot, or playing in the deep secondary in some capacity next to Mike Mitchell (his restructure guarantees his spot for 2015), they'll make the move. It's fair to even suggest they signed Polamalu to an extension last year with the full intention of making him a June 1 cut in 2015.

WR Lance Moore
Cap number: $1,822,500 million
Salary: $1.5 million
Dead money: $322,500

This is a no-brainer, and we're surprised it hasn't happened yet. Moore has even asked for his release, likely made public to get his name on the radars of other potential suitors.

Heath Miller
Cap number: $5,666,666
Salary: $4 million
Dead money: $3,333,334

Like Polamalu, it seems Miller's contract is structured in such a way they may not have intended to keep him in 2015. Both contracts appear to be prime post-June 1 cut candidates. They'd save $4 million on the 2015 cap with dead money of $1.6 million in 2015 and 2016 on a post-June 1 release of Miller. That's chump change on a cap that could be close to $150 million in 2016, and the Steelers are, before an extension is given to Ben Roethlisberger, roughly $60 million under that total. Still, Miller had a solid 2014, and his post-June 1 release wouldn't provide anything Polamalu's post-June 1 cut couldn't provide. Between the two, the Steelers would likely keep Miller over Polamalu.

DE Cam Thomas
Cap number: $2.5 million

Salary: $2 million
Dead money: $500,000

Thomas was signed more or less as a replacement for the departed Al Woods, who took a higher offer than what the Steelers gave Thomas to play in Tennessee. It was something of a surprise at the time, it appeared the Steelers wanted to keep Woods and he wanted to stay in Pittsburgh. Thomas had a rough year and with the emergence of second year DE Stephon Tuitt, the question is whether the Steelers feel comfortable in utilizing second year defensive lineman Dan McCullers as a multi-position back-up. If McCullers can play both nose tackle and end, Thomas becomes expendable.

DE Brett Keisel
Cap number: $1.75 million
Salary: $1.5 million
Dead Money: $250,000

From a numbers standpoint, the team shaves a little less off the cap by cutting Keisel than it does by cutting Thomas. The question is whether the team wants to keep a reliable veteran like Keisel around, or Thomas. It seems to make more sense to keep the longstanding Steelers veteran player under the expectation he's more mentor than player (he'll get snaps but the job is Tuitt's moving forward). Again, some of this is dependent upon what the team wants to do with McCullers.

NT Steve McLendon
Cap number: $2,808,334
Salary: $2.25 million
Dead money: $508,334

McLendon's contract was written in such a way it would be relatively painless to move on from in 2015. It's a question of whether the Steelers are prepared to do that from a personnel standpoint. Another player who's future is somewhat connected to the role the team feels is best for McCullers, should the team decide McCullers can play nose tackle, they'd save a good chunk of money by cutting the talented but often-injured McLendon. It's a position they may target in the draft as well, keeping McLendon for 2015 and grooming the rookie to take over.

LG Ramon Foster
Cap number: $2,150,000
Salary: $1,850,000
Dead money: $300,000

Similar to McLendon, the contract was written to favor a release in its final year. Foster has been a solid player on what looks to be an excellent offensive line in 2014. It's been a while since the Steelers have had continuity both among its offensive line coach as well as its personnel, and keeping Foster would ensure that through camp. Considering the layout of the draft and where the talent exists compared to where the Steelers are picking, it wouldn't be a surprise to see the team look at a tackle prospect who may adjust quickly to guard right away. Hi, La'el Collins.

OT Mike Adams
Cap number: $1,127,525
Salary: $873,225
Dead money: $254,300

This is barely a shade above pointless purely from a numbers and production standpoint. No one expects Adams to compete for a starting position, and his salary is pretty much what a back-up tackle will cost. Barring any incidents or a total collapse this offseason, expect the Steelers to stay with the devil they know as opposed to the devil they don't as far as their swing tackle is concerned. But hey, hi La'el Collins.