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Thread: Dollars and sense drive Steelers' signings

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    Dollars and sense drive Steelers' signings

    Dollars and sense drive Steelers' signings

    April, 7, 2014
    By Scott Brown |

    PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Steelers have signed seven players from other teams and they have been active in free agency despite limited room under the salary cap.

    They have been able to add to their roster by taking advantage of a rule that allows teams to sign players to veteranís minimum contacts and get a discount with such deals in regard to the cap.

    The rule was instituted so veteran players did not get left out in free agency because of what they command as far as a minimum base salary, per the collective bargaining agreement, and the Steelers have signed three players under those provisions.

    The maximum signing bonuses allowed in veteran minimum contracts is $65,000 and that is the only guaranteed money the Steelers gave to wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey, linebacker Arthur Moats and cornerback Brice McCain.

    Mike Mitchell was the Steelers' biggest signing, but even he makes a modest base salary for his first two seasons with the team.

    Take that with the guaranteed money -- almost exclusively given in signing bonuses -- the Steelers doled out to the four other outside free agents they signed and they are on the hook for only $8.04 million for those seven players, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

    Of course, the money paid to those players should be much higher assuming the Steelers properly evaluated the free agents they signed and donít cut ties with a number of them prematurely.

    But guaranteeing just over $8 million to seven outside free agents shows how the Steelers have been able to reshape their roster despite the constraints of the salary cap.

    Here is a review of the contacts, according to ESPN Stats & Info, signed by the seven outside free agents who have joined the Steelers since March 11:

    Safety Mike Mitchell: The Steelers made their biggest signing on the first day of free agency when they landed Mitchell with a five-year, $25 million contract. They also protected themselves if Mitchell, who will take over at free safety for Ryan Clark, does not work out. The fifth-year veteran received a $4.75 million signing bonus and has already earned a $500,000 roster bonus. Mitchell has modest base salaries his first two seasons ($750,000 and $2 million) and base salaries of $5 million per season in each of the final three seasons of his deal. The Steelers could cut ties with Mitchell after two seasons if he is not a good fit in Pittsburgh and not absorb too much of a hit in regard to the salary cap.

    Running back LeGarrette Blount: The Steelers signed the player who emerged as the Patriotsí best running back in the latter part of 2013 to a two-year, $3.85 million contract. Only the signing bonus ($950,000) is guaranteed with Blount scheduled to make base salaries of $900,000 and $2 million in 2014 and 2015, respectively. The Steelers have some protection in the event that they want to part ways with Blount after one season since more than half of his money comes from the 2015 base salary that is not guaranteed.

    Wide receiver Lance Moore: The Steelers signed Moore shortly after losing Jerricho Cotchery to the Carolina Panthers, landing the ninth-year veteran with a two-year, $3 million contract. Only a signing bonus of $645,000 is guaranteed and Moore will make base salaries of $855,000 and $1.5 million. Half of the money in Mooreís contract is in the second season giving the Steelers another escape hatch if they want to cut ties with the former Saint after one season.

    Defensive lineman Cam Thomas: The Steelers badly needed bodies along their defensive line when they signed Thomas to a two-year, $4 million contract. The player known as ďBaby ZillaĒ because of his size received a $1 million signing bonus and base salaries of $1 million and $2 million. Again, even in shorter contracts given out by the Steelers they left themselves an out by putting half of the money in Thomasí deal in the second year of his contract.

    Wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey: Itís easy to see why the Steelers took a chance on a player who has an excellent blend of size and speed but has inconsistent hands. Heyward-Bey agreed to a one-year, $795,000 contract and the only guaranteed money is the $65,000 the fifth-year veteran received as a signing bonus. This is a classic low-risk, potentially high-reward proposition for the Steelers.

    Linebacker Arthur Moats: The former Bill signed the same deal as Heyward-Bey, and Moats will provide great value for the Steelers if he can handle the role of No. 3 outside linebacker as well as contribute on special teams. Moats really becomes a bargain is he also provides depth at inside linebacker, something the fourth-year veteran said he will be able to do.

    Cornerback Brice McCain: Like Heyward-Bey and Moats, McCain signed a one-year, $795,000 deal that includes a mere $65,000 signing bonus. As with Heyward-Bey and Moats, McCain will count only $635,000 against the cap this year because of the veteranís minimum deal he signed.


  2. #2

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    The Steelers 2015 salary cap in detail

    By Simon Chester @SteelersWarRoom on Apr 18 2014

    After many years of suffering in salary cap hell brighter times are on the horizon for the Steelers in 2015 with more cap space than they will have had in many years but there will still be some hard choices to be made.

    With a number of key free agents decisions looming in 2015 and the hopes of fans to see some players extended this off-season it seems like a good time to take a look ahead at the Steelers salary cap situation for next year.

    Currently the Steelers have 28 Players under contract for 2015. As of today that is the lowest number of any team in the league followed closely by the Broncos with 29. For comparison the Eagles, Cardinals and Browns on the other hand currently have 51 players under contract for next year. With so few players under contract the Steelers will have the 10th lowest cap payroll but that only tells part of the story.

    To get the true picture of the Steelers salary cap commitments in 2015 we need to go beyond the numbers that can be found on a quality site like OverTheCap and factor in the other hidden costs that will be included to give the true amount of cap space the team will have to play with next year.

    Firstly we need to establish a cap number to work off. The final cap figure of $133 million was determined rather late in the day this year and it would be no surprise if teams were left guessing on the final figure until a few weeks until compliance again next year. Those in the know like Adam Schefter have the 2015 Salary Cap expected to be in the $140 million plus range:

    It seems reasonable to go on the conservative side and use a figure of $140 million for this exercise. There is a good chance it will be a bit higher with the new TV revenue but is unlikely to be less so it is a good starting point.

    Another assumption made to create this more credible cap figure is to assume Cam Heyward has his fifth year option exercised in the next few weeks, discussed on this site already and add that into the teams cap calculations for next year. That figure should be no higher than $7 million.

    Additionally the Steelers will have their draft class from 2014 to take into consideration for next years cap. Using the figures gleaned from the estimates on OverTheCap and discussed in detail on these pages we end up with a number of $7,413,587 that should cover all nine selections. While it is unlikely the Steelers will keep all nine rookies any that are not kept will be replaced by futures signings most likely which brings us to the next addition that needs to be made.

    To this point we have accounted for 38 players under contract so far in 2015. Much like this year the Steelers will sign a number of players to futures contracts at the seasons end. With 38 players expected to be signed the team will add at least 13 players to get to 51 players and that should include the 2014 practice squad and a few street free agents. The Steelers signed more than 14 players to futures contracts this year for comparison. If they have not kept all nine rookies they will likely sign one or two more players to futures contracts which would be around a similar cost to a low round draft pick they could otherwise have kept so for accountancy purposes here there shouldn't be much difference to the final figures. The minimum salary for these futures contracts will be $435,000 each in 2015.

    The only dead money the Steelers are currently carrying for next year will be for LaMarr Woodley and that accounts for a rather chunky $8.58 million. Should any draft picks be cut prior to the season like Terry Hawthorne was last year they would add to this figure but for now Woodleys is the only number to worry about.

    The final accountancy issue that needs to be addressed is the loan the Steelers took against future cap years in 2011 and 2012. Under the terms of the new CBA (page 53 if you want to read the specific part) teams were allowed to essentially defer $3 million of cap money in 2011 and $1.5 million in 2012 to assist with the what was termed as the "transition" to the new reset lower cap number of 2011 and beyond. Teams like the Steelers that did this would have to repay this money back against the cap at some point in the years 2014-2017. The Steelers repaid $1.125 million of that money this year and it seems logical to think that they intend paying it back equally over the next four years and so that figure has been entered against the 2015 cap for this calculation.

    So with all that being said and congratulations if you got this far without your head hurting, here is a comprehensive breakdown of all the expected cap charges for the Steelers in 2015 and their expected cap space as of today:

    Pittsburgh Steelers Projected 2015 Salary Cap

    Player Position Base Salary Prorated Bonus Other Bonus Dead Money Cap Hit
    Ben Roethlisberger QB $ 11,600,000 $ 6,795,000 $ - $ -6,795,000 $ 18,395,000
    Lawrence Timmons ILB $ 7,500,000 $ 5,066,250 $ - $ -8,132,520 $ 12,566,250
    Antonio Brown WR $ 6,000,000 $ 3,787,500 $ - $ -9,662,500 $ 9,787,500
    Troy Polamalu SS $ 6,000,000 $ 2,250,000 $ - $ -4,500,000 $ 8,250,000
    Heath Miller TE $ 4,000,000 $ 1,666,666 $ - $ -3,333,334 $ 5,666,666
    Mike Mitchell FS $ 2,000,000 $ 950,000 $ 2,000,000 $ -3,800,000 $ 4,950,000
    Steve McLendon NT $ 2,250,000 $ 558,333 $ - $ -558,333 $ 2,808,334
    Cam Thomas DE/NT $ 2,000,000 $ 500,000 $ - $ -500,000 $ 2,500,000
    David DeCastro G $ 1,030,531 $ 1,030,709 $ 425,000 $ -1,030,709 $ 2,486,240
    LeGarrette Blount RB $ 2,000,000 $ 475,000 $ - $ -475,000 $ 2,475,000
    Jarvis Jones OLB $ 1,196,410 $ 1,177,818 $ - $ -5,144,161 $ 2,374,228
    Ramon Foster OG $ 1,850,000 $ 300,000 $ - $ -300,000 $ 2,150,000
    Bruce Gradkowski QB $ 1,550,000 $ 283,334 $ - $ -283,334 $ 1,833,334
    Lance Moore WR $ 1,500,000 $ 322,500 $ - $ -322,500 $ 1,822,500
    William Gay CB $ 1,500,000 $ 166,667 $ - $ -166,667 $ 1,666,667
    Cody Wallace OG/C $ 1,100,000 $ 150,000 $ - $ -300,000 $ 1,250,000
    Mike Adams OT $ 873,225 $ 254,300 $ - $ -254,300 $ 1,127,525
    Le'Veon Bell RB $ 779,600 $ 344,200 $ - $ -688,400 $ 1,123,800
    Sean Spence ILB $ 680,000 $ 136,345 $ - $ -136,345 $ 816,345
    Markus Wheaton WR $ 605,000 $ 147,844 $ - $ -295,688 $ 752,844
    Shamarko Thomas S $ 585,000 $ 113,288 $ - $ -226,576 $ 698,288
    Landry Jones QB $ 585,000 $ 109,805 $ - $ -219,610 $ 694,805
    Kelvin Beachum OT $ 660,000 $ 11,474 $ - $ -11,474 $ 671,474
    David Paulson TE $ 660,000 $ 11,474 $ - $ -11,474 $ 671,474
    Vince Williams ILB $ 585,000 $ 19,670 $ - $ -39,340 $ 604,670
    Nick Williams DE $ 585,000 $ 14,462 $ - $ -28,924 $ 599,462
    Hebron Fangupo NT $ 585,000 $ - $ - $ - $ 585,000
    Nik Embernate OG $ 510,000 $ 2,500 $ - $ -2,500 $ 512,500
    After expected option is used
    Cam Heyward DE $ 7,000,000 $ - $ - $ - $ 7,000,000
    Dead Money
    Lamarr Woodley OLB $ - $ 8,580,000 $ - $ - $ 8,580,000

    Totals: $ 67,769,766 $ 35,225,139 $ 2,425,000 $ 106,919,906

    2014 Rookie Class Salary Cap Hit Projection for 2015: $ 7,413,587
    2011/12 season salary cap transition payback: $ 1,125,000
    Post 2014 season futures signings to get to 51 players on the roster: $ 5,655,000
    Estimated 2015 Salary Cap: $ 140,000,000

    Projected 2015 Salary Cap Space: $ 20,386,507

    With 43 players out of contract at the end of the season including 16 free agents the Steelers will have some work to do before the 2015 season starts and some tough questions regarding which big names they will be able to afford to keep. Even with just over $20 million in projected cap space it will be hard to keep everyone and with next years figures in mind an extension or two this year might be a cost saving measure against potential breakout years for players like Cortez Allen and bigger wage demands.


  3. #3

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    Here is the list for 2015 free agents with their salaries:

    Jason Worilds OLB, LB UFA PIT TBD 26 $9,754,000 Hopefully we lock him up and he is our OLB for the next 8 years
    Ike Taylor CB UFA PIT TBD 33 $7,692,403 His last year
    Maurkice Pouncey C UFA PIT TBD 24 $5,514,000 Price to high? Hopefully not
    Cameron Heyward DE UFA PIT TBD 24 $2,133,418 Should be about a 7 million cap hit as we pick up the option
    Shaun Suisham K UFA PIT TBD 32 $1,762,500
    Cortez Allen CB UFA PIT TBD 25 $1,528,875 Resign at a fair price
    Matt Spaeth TE UFA PIT TBD 30 $1,037,500
    Marcus Gilbert RT, T UFA PIT TBD 26 $1,026,905
    Chris Carter OLB, LB UFA PIT TBD 25 $685,700
    Kion Wilson ILB, LB UFA PIT TBD 27 $645,000
    Will Allen S UFA PIT TBD 31 $635,000
    Darrius Heyward-Bey WR UFA PIT TBD 27 $635,000
    Brice McCain CB UFA PIT TBD 27 $635,000
    Arthur Moats ILB, LB UFA PIT TBD 26 $635,000
    Greg Warren LS UFA PIT TBD 32 $635,000
    Guy Whimper G UFA PIT TBD 30 $635,000
    Robert Golden S RFA PIT TBD 23 $571,667
    Antwon Blake S RFA PIT TBD 23 $570,000
    Will Johnson FB RFA PIT TBD 25 $570,000
    Michael Palmer TE UFA PIT TBD 26 $570,000
    David Snow G ERFA PIT TBD 24 $570,000
    Vic So'oto OLB, LB UFA PIT TBD 27 $570,000
    Brian Arnfelt DE ERFA PIT TBD 24 $495,000
    Terence Garvin ILB, LB ERFA PIT TBD 23 $495,000
    Isaiah Green S ERFA PIT TBD 24 $495,000
    Derek Moye WR ERFA PIT TBD 25 $495,000
    Ross Ventrone S RFA PIT TBD 27 $495,000
    Alvester Alexander RB ERFA PIT TBD 23 $420,000
    Justin Brown WR ERFA PIT TBD 23 $420,000
    Bryant Browning LT, T RFA PIT TBD 25 $420,000
    Danny Coale WR ERFA PIT TBD 25 $420,000
    Jasper Collins WR ERFA PIT TBD 22 $420,000
    Jordan Dangerfield S ERFA PIT TBD 23 $420,000
    Bryce Davis LS RFA PIT TBD 24 $420,000
    Chris Hubbard G ERFA PIT TBD 22 $420,000
    Al Lapuaho DT ERFA PIT TBD 22 $420,000
    Miguel Maysonet RB ERFA PIT TBD 24 $420,000
    Daniel Molls ILB, LB ERFA PIT TBD 23 $420,000
    Kashif Moore WR RFA PIT TBD 25 $420,000
    Tauren Poole RB RFA PIT TBD 24 $420,000
    Lanear Sampson WR ERFA PIT TBD 23 $420,000
    Devin Smith CB ERFA PIT TBD $420,000
    Brad Wing P ERFA PIT TBD 23 $420,000
    Ryan Baker LB RFA PIT TBD 24
    Mike Blanc DT RFA PIT TBD 27
    Jason Ford RB RFA PIT TBD 24
    Andre Freeman CB RFA PIT TBD 24
    Buddy Jackson CB ERFA PIT TBD 25
    Grant Ressel K RFA PIT TBD
    Myron Rolle CB RFA PIT TBD 27
    Juamorris Stewart WR RFA PIT TBD 27
    Jimmy Young

    Worilds, Pouncey and Allen seems to be the 3 big questions for 2015.

  4. #4

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    Is there a way to knock down the 18+ million in Ben's last year or are we stuck losing a big chunk of cap money in his last year?

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by winwithd View Post
    Is there a way to knock down the 18+ million in Ben's last year or are we stuck losing a big chunk of cap money in his last year?
    Sign him to an extension...


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