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Thread: Steelers temporarily 'capping' problems

  1. #1
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    Steelers temporarily 'capping' problems

    Steelers temporarily 'capping' problems

    February, 27, 2012
    By Jamison Hensley



    Lawrence Timmons, Ben Roethlisberger and LaMarr Woodley restructured their deals recently.

    The Pittsburgh Steelers have kept the core of their team together to make another Super Bowl run -- at a cost.

    The NFL's busiest team this offseason, the Steelers whacked $25 million in three weeks by restructuring the contracts of five players. This got Pittsburgh under the cap this year, but the $25 million doesn't just disappear. The chunk of cap change gets spread over future years.

    What it boils down to is this: The Steelers got themselves out of cap jail today by handcuffing themselves in the future. These moves are putting pressure on the Steelers to win now.

    "As a former cap manager in the NFL for 10 years, I know that if you want to make something work for one year, you can," ESPN NFL business analyst Andrew Brandt said. "Itís just a question of how much pain are you pushing off to the future."

    The first real pinch will come in 2013, when the Steelers could be anywhere from $10 million to $15 million over the cap depending on the limit next year. Add that to having three starters on offense becoming unrestricted free agents: wide receiver Mike Wallace (if he doesn't go elsewhere this year as a restricted free agent), running back Rashard Mendenhall and tight end Heath Miller.

    Pittsburgh will have to either find cap room to re-sign these players, look for cheaper replacements in free agency or hope someone already on the roster can take their spots. Plus, wide receiver Antonio Brown becomes a restricted free agent in 2013, so the Steelers could be facing another Wallace situation all over again with a limited budget. It looks like there will be tougher decisions in 2013 than this year.



    Adding to the Steelers' potential cap woes for 2013, Antonio Brown will become a restricted free agent after the upcoming season.

    One alternative is to restructure more contracts, but that creates a vicious cycle. Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger restructured for the second straight year, dropping his 2012 cap number from $16.92 million to $8.895 million. That simply increases Roethlisberger's cap number for the remaining four years of his contract (signed through 2015), making him a long-term cap burden.

    "If it [the constant restructuring of contracts] didnít catch up to them, then every team would not worry about doing this," Brandt said. "And most teams do worry about doing this."

    What helps the Steelers is that the salary cap is expected to jump significantly in 2014 and beyond, perhaps as much as $30 million, with the new television contracts. That should help absorb a lot of the players' increased salary-cap numbers from the restructuring of Roethlisberger, LaMarr Woodley, Lawrence Timmons, Ike Taylor and Willie Colon.

    But that also means other teams can spend more in signing free agents and retaining their own players than the Steelers. These restructured deals will put Pittsburgh at the bottom of the list in terms of cap room for the foreseeable future. It's true that the Steelers rarely throw around money in free agency. (Trivia question: Who was the last high-priced free agent signed by the Steelers?) The reason why has been Pittsburgh's success in drafting.

    Teams that spend the most in free agency are the ones trying to fill holes that are created when a high draft pick fails to develop. The Steelers now have little room for error in their upcoming drafts because they won't have the same cap space to compete with other teams for free agents if they need to do so.

    In the end, the Steelers are only temporarily capping their problems. Pittsburgh has to address the long-term answers at running back (Do they move in a different direction from Mendenhall?) and wide receiver (Can they keep Wallace, Brown or none at all?). The Steelers have to figure out the eventual replacements for aging veteran defensive players such as James Harrison, Troy Polamalu, Ike Taylor and Ryan Clark.

    But the bigger question that remains: Will they have enough cap space to find these answers?

    "Itís hard to lock down that in 2013, they wonít be able to manage their team. Or in 2014, theyíre going to have some real problems," Brandt said. "What has to be emphasized, though, is whatever the cap situation is league-wide, they are going to be in the most disadvantaged state."

    http://espn.go.com/blog/afcnorth/post/_ ... g-problems

  2. #2

    Re: Steelers temporarily 'capping' problems

    I really don't think that this Hensley guy paints an accurate picture when it comes to the Steelers. IIRC he is a former Ravens beat writer before hitting the AFC North scene, so he does have his biases.

    I don't disagree with what he says, it is mostly the things that he does not say. For example, he does not mention that the Steelers will have aging and depreciating vets like Ward, Smith, Foote, Farrior, Hampton coming off the books by the end of next year. This mitigates the pain that the team is going through and does allow us the leeway that he says we don't have.

    This is a temporary tightening and the team will be back in strong cap shape by the end of 2013, in time for the rise in the cap.

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    Re: Steelers temporarily 'capping' problems

    Quote Originally Posted by steeler_fan_in_t.o.
    I really don't think that this Hensley guy paints an accurate picture when it comes to the Steelers. IIRC he is a former Ravens beat writer before hitting the AFC North scene, so he does have his biases.

    I don't disagree with what he says, it is mostly the things that he does not say. For example, he does not mention that the Steelers will have aging and depreciating vets like Ward, Smith, Foote, Farrior, Hampton coming off the books by the end of next year. This mitigates the pain that the team is going through and does allow us the leeway that he says we don't have.

    This is a temporary tightening and the team will be back in strong cap shape by the end of 2013, in time for the rise in the cap.
    The "aging and depreciating vets" you mention need to be gone this year not next year.

    As far as the Brown situation, all the more reason to hope that someone grabs Wallace as a RFA. If Brown continues to perform like he did in 2011 then it is unlikely we could afford both Wallace and Brown.

    That said it doesn't change the fact we need to get younger and less expensive so we have the flexibility we need going forward.
    Playing Fantasy Football does not qualify you to be the in the front office or on the coaching staff of the Pittsburgh Steelers. They are professionals and you are not!

  4. #4

    Re: Steelers temporarily 'capping' problems

    The Steelers may have to choose between Heath Miller and Antonio Brown on offense...
    I want gay married couples to be able to protect their marijuana plants with guns.

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    Re: Steelers temporarily 'capping' problems

    Quote Originally Posted by Slapstick
    The Steelers may have to choose between Heath Miller and Antonio Brown on offense...

    I doubt it comes to that because Brown is too good and we have no TE except for Heath. I'd rather have them trade Wallace (assuming they work out a deal) before I would give up either Heath or Brown.

    How long do you think they keep Harrison and his salary????
    Playing Fantasy Football does not qualify you to be the in the front office or on the coaching staff of the Pittsburgh Steelers. They are professionals and you are not!

  6. #6

    Re: Steelers temporarily 'capping' problems

    Harrison is nearing the end of his contract. After this season, he has two years remaining. Kind of like Hines this year. I guess it depends on how many games are lost to injury, suspension, etc.
    I want gay married couples to be able to protect their marijuana plants with guns.

  7. #7

    Re: Steelers temporarily 'capping' problems

    Quote Originally Posted by Oviedo
    The "aging and depreciating vets" you mention need to be gone this year not next year.

    As far as the Brown situation, all the more reason to hope that someone grabs Wallace as a RFA. If Brown continues to perform like he did in 2011 then it is unlikely we could afford both Wallace and Brown.

    That said it doesn't change the fact we need to get younger and less expensive so we have the flexibility we need going forward.
    From a purely cap perspective, it makes some sense to keep these guys as long as they can. If they cut Casey Hampton, there is a big dead money hit -- either $3.5 million this year or a split between this year and next if done post June 1. And you still need somebody else to fill his roster spot. On the flip side, if he plays out his deal, he has a high cap number this year but no impact next year.

    The closer these guys get to the end of their deals, the less dead money there will be.

    I'm not rooting for everybody to come back. I'd like to see Aaron Smith retire. I was hoping Ward would retire, but if he is going to come back, I'd like to see him take a pay cut and do it with the Steelers.

    The Steelers have a difficult balancing act. With a guy like Kemo, cut him immediately? See if he'll take a pay cut to return this year as a backup and then cut him next year with less dead money?

  8. #8

    Re: Steelers temporarily 'capping' problems

    Quote Originally Posted by Oviedo
    Quote Originally Posted by steeler_fan_in_t.o.
    I really don't think that this Hensley guy paints an accurate picture when it comes to the Steelers. IIRC he is a former Ravens beat writer before hitting the AFC North scene, so he does have his biases.

    I don't disagree with what he says, it is mostly the things that he does not say. For example, he does not mention that the Steelers will have aging and depreciating vets like Ward, Smith, Foote, Farrior, Hampton coming off the books by the end of next year. This mitigates the pain that the team is going through and does allow us the leeway that he says we don't have.

    This is a temporary tightening and the team will be back in strong cap shape by the end of 2013, in time for the rise in the cap.
    The "aging and depreciating vets" you mention need to be gone this year not next year.

    As far as the Brown situation, all the more reason to hope that someone grabs Wallace as a RFA. If Brown continues to perform like he did in 2011 then it is unlikely we could afford both Wallace and Brown.

    That said it doesn't change the fact we need to get younger and less expensive so we have the flexibility we need going forward.
    I hear you OV, and many of them could/should be gone this year, and the rest next year. The point of this article is that next year the cap will hit us and my point is that by next year these salaries will all be off the cap - whether they actually come off this year or next.

  9. #9

    Re: Steelers temporarily 'capping' problems

    Quote Originally Posted by phillyesq
    Quote Originally Posted by Oviedo
    The "aging and depreciating vets" you mention need to be gone this year not next year.

    As far as the Brown situation, all the more reason to hope that someone grabs Wallace as a RFA. If Brown continues to perform like he did in 2011 then it is unlikely we could afford both Wallace and Brown.

    That said it doesn't change the fact we need to get younger and less expensive so we have the flexibility we need going forward.
    From a purely cap perspective, it makes some sense to keep these guys as long as they can. If they cut Casey Hampton, there is a big dead money hit -- either $3.5 million this year or a split between this year and next if done post June 1. And you still need somebody else to fill his roster spot. On the flip side, if he plays out his deal, he has a high cap number this year but no impact next year.

    The closer these guys get to the end of their deals, the less dead money there will be.

    I'm not rooting for everybody to come back. I'd like to see Aaron Smith retire. I was hoping Ward would retire, but if he is going to come back, I'd like to see him take a pay cut and do it with the Steelers.

    The Steelers have a difficult balancing act. With a guy like Kemo, cut him immediately? See if he'll take a pay cut to return this year as a backup and then cut him next year with less dead money?
    Your info is incorrect on Hampton. This is the last year of his deal, so there is no hit next year regardless. His salary this season is $4.89M. His remaining bonus amount is approx. $3.16M. Whether or not he plays for the team this season we will take a hit equal to his remaining bonus amount. There is no deferring a portion to next year in any case without an extension because this is the final year of his contract.

    The options then are:

    1) Keep him on the roster and pay him that $4.89M - cap hit approx. $8.056M
    2) Ask him to accept a reduced salary to play this year - cap hit $3.16M + new salary
    3) Cut him - cap hit $3.16
    4) Extend him and give him a low salary for this year and next and spread out the cap hits - cap hit unsure, but a bad move anyway

    To me the only real options are 2 & 3. If he accepts $1M to play this season after coming off of ACL surgery, then his cap hit is $4.16M and we save $3.89M. Otherwise we thank him for his many years of service and allow him to sail off into retirement.

  10. #10

    Re: Steelers temporarily 'capping' problems

    Quote Originally Posted by steeler_fan_in_t.o.
    From a purely cap perspective, it makes some sense to keep these guys as long as they can. If they cut Casey Hampton, there is a big dead money hit -- either $3.5 million this year or a split between this year and next if done post June 1. And you still need somebody else to fill his roster spot. On the flip side, if he plays out his deal, he has a high cap number this year but no impact next year.

    The closer these guys get to the end of their deals, the less dead money there will be.

    I'm not rooting for everybody to come back. I'd like to see Aaron Smith retire. I was hoping Ward would retire, but if he is going to come back, I'd like to see him take a pay cut and do it with the Steelers.

    The Steelers have a difficult balancing act. With a guy like Kemo, cut him immediately? See if he'll take a pay cut to return this year as a backup and then cut him next year with less dead money?
    Your info is incorrect on Hampton. This is the last year of his deal, so there is no hit next year regardless. His salary this season is $4.89M. His remaining bonus amount is approx. $3.16M. Whether or not he plays for the team this season we will take a hit equal to his remaining bonus amount. There is no deferring a portion to next year in any case without an extension because this is the final year of his contract.

    The options then are:

    1) Keep him on the roster and pay him that $4.89M - cap hit approx. $8.056M
    2) Ask him to accept a reduced salary to play this year - cap hit $3.16M + new salary
    3) Cut him - cap hit $3.16
    4) Extend him and give him a low salary for this year and next and spread out the cap hits - cap hit unsure, but a bad move anyway

    To me the only real options are 2 & 3. If he accepts $1M to play this season after coming off of ACL surgery, then his cap hit is $4.16M and we save $3.89M. Otherwise we thank him for his many years of service and allow him to sail off into retirement.[/quote]

    You are correct that all of Hampton's hit is absorbed this year if he is released. My bad there. I was thinking of some of the other guys (especially Kemo) who have more time on their deals.

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