NFL notified teams today that it expects this year's salary cap to be between $140 and $143 million, at least $1.5M higher than projected.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) February 18, 2015
Early reports are not in favor of another large scale salary cap increase.
But a slight one may be good enough for the Steelers heading into the start of free agency.
ESPN's Adam Schefter Tweeted Wednesday from the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis the salary cap is expected to increase from last season, ending somewhere between $140 million (which is what has been expected) and $143 million.
The Steelers are right around that mark (estimated by Over The Cap at $142.6 million going to their top 51 free agents), and even with a cap of $143 million, the Steelers will have little room to negotiate deals with any bigger name free agent.
They will focus on keeping their own, though.
A contract extension is expected for quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, and other cap-cutting moves may be made, including the post-June 1 release of safety Troy Polamalu.
Outside linebacker Jason Worilds is also a pending free agent, and general manager Kevin Colbert spoke today from the Combine, not revealing much outside of the club's interest in keeping him but being unsure as to whether that will happen.
Roethlisberger's contract has been considered all but certain, and while it will keep the franchise passer in place for the next five or six years, it isn't likely to bring with it much cap relief. Roethlisberger still has $6.9 million in unaccounted bonus money from past contract restructures, and with a base salary of $11.3 million, any plausible deal will likely keep his cap number around the same range, minus perhaps a small amount.
The Steelers aren't expected to be buyers this free agency period, but additional space would help them make competitive offers for cornerback Brice McCain and outside linebacker Arthur Moats - both are considered to be priority targets. Both would at least provide adequate depth if they wouldn't become starters, and both are considered to be positions of need in the upcoming draft.