Heading into the preseason, there were some big name players who were expecting to get a new contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Antonio Brown, Le'Veon Bell and David DeCastro would have topped everyone's lists of first in line for a new pay day. Considering the team's rule on not negotiating contracts with players once the season begins, time is ticking for any of these players to hit pay dirt.
Looking at it from the outside, Brown has two years left on his current deal, and the Steelers seem content with letting him play out his current deal. Bell's issues off the field, and back-to-back seasons with knee injuries, has the team taking a wait-and-see approach to a possible extension.
That leaves DeCastro. In the 5th year option of his rookie contract, the former Stanford product is due to make just north of $8 million dollars this season. Not a bad chunk of change, but with the team's offensive line hitting it's stride, you would hope an extension would be in the plans for DeCastro.
To draw comparisons to another member of the team who was in this situation just a year ago would be Cameron Heyward. Heyward was set to play out his 5th year option before receiving a 6-year extension with the team in mid-July. Heyward's new deal was in the form of a 6-year $59.2 million contract.
September is knocking on the door, and DeCastro is running out of time in terms of getting a new contract done with the Steelers, but what could be the hold up on the team getting a deal done with the Pro Bowl guard? It could simply come down to numbers.
DeCastro currently ranks 16th among right guards in terms of overall contract value. The highest paid contract, in terms of money per year, would go to Brandon Brooks of the Philadelphia Eagles who makes $8 million dollars a year. This isn't to suggest DeCastro would expect to be the highest paid guard in the league, but certainly in the top 5 would seem justifiable considering how well he has played so early in his career.
A top 5 right guard contract would put him anywhere from $5-$6 million dollars a year, and that is something the Steelers could certainly live with under their current salary cap climate. If the team were to give DeCastro a 6-year contract similar to Heyward, with an average salary around $5 million dollars, it would give him an overall contract value of roughly $30 million dollars, signing bonus not included. Such a number would have him right in the top 5 of highest paid right guards in the league.
Some have suggested the team consider using the franchise tag on DeCastro after the 2016 season, but if the team is smart they save that tag for Le'Veon Bell to lock him up with the organization if a long-term deal couldn't be met after the season has come to a conclusion.
Time might be running out, but it only takes two parties sitting down at the negotiating table with every intent of signing a contract to make a deal happen. If the team gambles with him playing out his final year of his rookie contract, they could be playing with fire if he has another Pro Bowl season and the price tag continues to soar if the team wants to keep him in black and gold for the long-term.