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Steelers' 2015 Salary Cap: Ramifications of cutting Cortez Allen

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The Steelers wouldn't appear likely to release Cortez Allen just one year into a five-year deal signed this past off-season. Selling him short now would provide some relief in 2015 but carries a hefty dead-money charge in 2016.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

(figures for this article taken from Over The Cap)

LaMarr Woodley is the gift that keeps on taking from the Steelers.

Woodley, a post-June 1 release in 2013, will count for $8,580,000 against the Steelers' 2015 salary cap, making up six percent of the Steelers' projected $140 million cap. His figure is 91 percent of the Steelers' $9.4 million in dead money, which is the second-highest in the NFL.

The highest is Baltimore, who has the same problem. The release of running back Ray Rice hits their cap harder than Woodley's hits Pittsburgh, taking on $9.5 million or 96.2 percent of the team's dead money. Rice will be 6.7 percent of the team's projected $140 million cap in 2015.

The Steelers' decision to place injured cornerback Cortez Allen on injured reserve, ending his rough 2014 season, has brought with it the notion of an off-season release of the fourth-year cornerback. Cutting Allen before June 1 would save the team $1.54 million against the cap while adding $5.4 million to it in dead money. That would bring their dead-money total to approximately $14.8 million, or more than 10 percent of the projected $140 million cap.

If the Steelers were to release him, they'd likely do it as a June 1 designation, dropping his dead-money charge in 2015 to $1.35 million and $4.05 million in 2016. It would save the team about $5.6 million against the 2015 salary cap.

The Steelers currently have $135,574,235 in salary and dead money next year, putting them approximately $4.43 million under the projected cap.

That isn't much space, considering they would have a draft class to sign and they currently only have 37 players signed for the 2015 season. Moves will need to be made and, while it would seem more likely the team would give Allen an opportunity to rebound next season at a relatively affordable price, it's expected that other moves will be made. Allen's $6.9 million cap charge includes a $3 million roster bonus that only appears in this year of his deal, and the total cap charge is the 17th highest for his position in the NFL.

The sweetest plum is the contract of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, whose $18.395 cap charge is the sixth-highest in the NFL at his position but his $11.6 million salary is 12th. An extension can be considered all but certain this off-season, but carrying with him a prorated $6.795 million bonus paid to Roethlisberger in the past means there's likely little the Steelers can do to drop his cap number substantially this season.

Other prime targets for release, not factoring in displacement, are free safety Mike Mitchell (owed a $2 million roster bonus and a $2 million base salary), strong safety Troy Polamalu ($6 million salary) Cam Thomas ($2 million salary), tight end Heath Miller ($4 million salary). Three of those five players are starters, but it's a virtual certainty at least one of them will be released this off-season, and probably more than one.