Terminations should come soon
by Ray Fittipaldo
Feb. 28, 2014
The new salary cap NFL teams will be operating under next season is expected to be announced next week. All 32 NFL teams must be under the new cap, which is expected to be $133 million, by March 11, which also is the first day of free agency.
Many teams have already begun to cut players. The Ravens on Thursday released longtime fullback Vonta Leach and linebacker Jameel McClain. Their releases saved the Ravens and nearly $5 million and they now will be more than $25 million under the new cap number, according to the Baltimore Sun.
The Steelers will soon release offensive lineman Levi Brown and his $6 million salary. That will get the Steelers to the point where they are almost cap compliant. But merely being compliant is not the answer for the Steelers, who need money to sign their own impending free agents such as Jason Worilds as well the money they’ll need for their new players that come through the draft.
That means other veterans are likely to be terminated or have their contracts restructured. Ike Taylor would save the Steelers $7 million in cap space if he is released. The Steelers could act as soon as today on Taylor. He is the most likely first release because the situation with the outside linebackers is more complicated.
The Steelers can save $8 million this season by releasing veteran outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley as well as $8.5 million next year and $9 million in 2015. But they might not be willing to sever ties with Woodley until Worilds is signed.
If the Steelers do not sign Worilds they would be in a situation where they might be forced to keep Woodley and his $13.6 million cap hit because their most experienced outside linebacker would be Jarvis Jones, who had to be benched in his rookie season for failing to produce.
If the Steelers do sign Worilds they could cut Woodley soon or wait until June 1, when he would cost less against the cap this season.
More cap relief could come from restructuring contracts of other high earners such as Ben Roethlisberger and Troy Polamalu.
Steelers president Art Rooney II said last week the Steelers could be more active in free agency this year because the cap’s expected increase. In order for that to happen, look for Taylor to go first and then the Woodley/Worilds situation to play out next.