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Questions About Steelers Salary Cap Situation Need Answers

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Ya ever have that co-worker who comes in with a look that says "I have a gun and a shovel, and I doubt anyone will miss you, so don't toy with me today"?

A co-worker who, perhaps, is running a fever, and is royally ticked off at his dog's escape from his collar and subsequent trek through four inches of wet, heavy snow this morning.

It may not be rational. Or logical. It may be pure insanity, but that's me today. So I'm going to rant a little. The thought and realistic possibility of the Bengals nabbing WR Mike Wallace away from us with a low-end first round pick just does that to me, and I want answers. Sometimes, Twitter just doesn't give you enough room to ask the questions needing to be asked. Here's what I want to know.

How did the Steelers get locked into Salary Cap Jail? This is a team renowned for its front office savvy. A dream team of numbers nerds, Kevin Colbert and Omar Khan, never steered this franchise into such perilous waters.

Are we just blindly loyal to this franchise, so much that we aren't questioning its leadership right now? I get the fact Colbert walks past six trophies on his way into work, but now, he's staring at a team salary largely increased last season. Were they gambling heavily on a 2012 salary cap that would have been about a 15 percent increase from this season?

Extensions were given to Ike Taylor (a new deal, actually), LaMarr Woodley, Troy Polamalu and Lawrence Timmons last season. Taylor, Woodley and Timmons were asked to restructure those deals less than a year after they were signed. That's not standard business practice on the South Side. Did they not see the problems those decisions may bring this year?

Adding to it is RB Rashard Mendenhall's base salary increase from 2011 to 2012. His cap number went from around $ 800k to $ 1.2 million, and all that factors into the cap. Were they planning on him rushing for fewer than 900 yards?

Since they were in the giving mood last year, why not talk to QB Ben Roethlisberger then about an extension? Clearly, the team has its quarterback. That quarterback's legacy is winning. He obviously can win here, but since you know (before training camp 2011) his best friend, Bruce Arians, will be the offensive coordinator that season, why not ask him to take a few bucks less in 2012, and in exchange, you'll tack on another two years, and spread money out from what's left on his deal then? New money for him, cap savings for the team, and none of this "burn the midnight oil to free up money to sign WR Mike Wallace to a long-term deal" junk.

The upside to that (in a manner of speaking) is they have the exact same scenario with WR Antonio Brown next year. They're guaranteeing a lot of money to veterans now, it's reasonable to think some of that is going to have to hit the books next year.

Granted, they may not have anticipated the highest level RFA tender (a first-and-third round compensation) going away in the new CBA, but they had it in enough time where they could have anticipated the scenario we're discussing now.

Giving a restricted free agent a franchise tag seems out of the spirit of its purpose, but at the very least they could have seen Wallace having another big season, and really becoming a possible target in the RFA market. Knowing they'd have to franchise him to protect him, why didn't they talk last year about an extension for Wallace? Maybe they could still have gotten him on the cheap.

The linebacker tag is likely to be $ 1.5 million less in 2012 than the wide receiver tag.

So someone throw a glass of cold water on my face, or toss me a bottle of whiskey a la Delta House's John "Bluto" Blutarsky, and tell me why we needn't worry about any of this.



Source: Behind the Steel Curtain

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Fitting Mike Wallace Under The Steelers 2012 Salary Cap While Wearing Franchise Tag

Since my last post on Mike Wallace, as it relates to trying to protect him via free agency, I have had a few questions about how the Steelers can possibly fit Wallace underneath the cap by the start of the new league year if they indeed were to place the franchise tag of $ 9.4 million on him.

Let's assume that the Steelers tender all of their other restricted free agents and exclusive free agents except for Jamon Meredith at the lowest levels, which I fully expect they will do, and assume they give Wallace the franchise tag that is estimated to be about $ 9.4 million. With the current players Read more [...]

Source: Yardbarker: Pittsburgh Steelers


A View on How the Steelers Will Deal with the Salary Cap Issues in 2012

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Football Outsiders is out and doing Division by Division looks at the salary cap and how it affects each team around the league.

To see about the entire AFC North – click HERE

Here’s the Steelers breakdown, and some of the background on how they think things will play out for the team.

Estimated Cap Space: Around $ 12 million over

Unrestricted Free Agents (11):
Charlie Batch, Jerricho Cotchery, Dennis Dixon, Trai Essex, William Gay, Chris Hoke (retired), Byron Leftwich, Anthony Madison, Mewelde Moore, Daniel Sepulveda, Max Starks

Restricted Free Agents (7): Ramon Foster, David Johnson, Doug Legursky, Keenan Lewis, Jamon Meredith, Ryan Mundy, Mike Wallace

David Johnson, Ryan Mundy, Ramon Foster, Doug Legursky and Keenan Lewis can expect, at minimum, an original round tender worth $ 1.26 million in non-guaranteed base salary.

Franchise Tag Candidate: One season after ranking first in receiving DYAR and DVOA, wide receiver Mike Wallace ranked fifth and eighth in those statistics in 2011. With the elimination of the “first- and third-round” tender in the new collective bargaining agreement, a team in need of a wide receiver could target Wallace if the cost is only a 2012 first round pick. It’s worth noting that two teams in need of a deep threat at wide receiver are the Cleveland Browns and New England Patriots, both of whom are armed with cap room and an additional first round pick, so the Steelers may have no choice but to construct a bigger fence around Wallace by placing the projected $ 9.5 million franchise tender on Wallace.

Potential Cap Casualties/Restructures: The Steelers have already cleared around $ 18 million from the cap by restructuring the contracts of Ike Taylor, LaMarr Woodley and Lawrence Timmons (Following these links to see the details of the Woodley and Timmons restructures). Ben Roethlisberger and James Harrison both restructured their contracts to free up cap space last August. Doing so again could potentially free up another $ 8 million of cap space, which helps, but still won’t get the Steelers far enough under the cap to be able to tender offers to their restricted free agents.

Other restructure candidates include Troy Polamalu ($ 9.1375 million cap number), Casey Hampton ($ 8.057 million cap number in final year of his contract), offensive linemen Willie Colon ($ 5.7 million cap number) and Chris Kemoeatu ($ 5.262 million cap number), and Hines Ward. Ward is due $ 4 million in base salary and has a $ 4.61 million cap number in 2012. Outright releasing Ward would free up $ 3.39 million of cap space, but Ward is open to restructuring his contract and lowering his cap number. Pittsburgh would likely seek to reduce their cash commitment to Ward, so a reworked contract would certainly be incentive-laden.

Source: Steelers Gab

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Salary Cap Savings & Injury Benefit Clarification Should Hampton & Mendenhall Be Released

As the Pittsburgh Steelers get closer to having to make key personnel decisions for salary cap purposes, I thought I would take time to research out the ramifications of terminating the contracts of nose tackle Casey Hampton and running back Rashard Mendenhall from both a salary cap savings angle and because both are still recovering from ACL surgeries, as both expected to start the 2012 season on the PUP (physically unable perform) list.

Let us start from an injury standpoint first, as I was confused how this worked myself. I was trying to look at it from an injury grievance viewpoint as it Read more [...]

Source: Yardbarker: Pittsburgh Steelers


Report: Roethlisberger & Harrison Ready To Restructure Contracts To Help With Salary Cap

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review is reporting early Wednesday morning that that the agents of Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and linebacker James Harrison have both said that their clients are agreeable to restructuring their contracts before the start of the NFL's new year to help the team get in compliance with the salary cap. March 13th is the magic date that the Steelers need to be in compliance with the cap and it has long been speculated that both Roethlisberger and Harrison would be potential restructure candidates. Both restructured their contracts prior to the start of Read more [...]

Source: Yardbarker: Pittsburgh Steelers

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Salary Cap Issues: What Decisions Are The Steelers Faced With in 2012, Part I

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With the releases of CB Bryant McFadden and WR Arnaz Battle, the Steelers are taking their first steps toward getting their top 51 players under the salary cap by the start of the 2012 league season - March 13.

Other moves will certainly be coming, but there are several options the team could pursue by that date.

In part I of this two part series, we'll dive into the looming cuts expected within the roster, and some projections for restricted free agency.

Aaron Smith's Decision

There are two choices, both between the team and Smith. After an outstanding career in Pittsburgh, Smith could decide to hang them up. The team would then eat the remaining balance of his contract, but not the whole thing, and save around $ 1 million.

Option 2 is a bit more blunt (but at least as realistic). If Smith doesn't retire, he won't play for the Steelers next year. The time and money they've sunk into the defensive line came through most of last season, and young players like Cam Heyward and Ziggy Hood have nowhere to go but up. It would, perhaps, be ideal to have a healthy Smith play through a farewell tour in 2012, provide adequate amount of playing time and continue to foster the development of the younger players. The financial reality is his physical condition makes him too much of a liability to risk paying that much, and a reduced salary may not be of any benefit, should he get hurt again.

Pay Reductions

The Steelers will also ask some guys to take paycuts. WR Hines Ward said he would, and is under contract for one more year. Getting him down to the veteran minimum would save another $ 1 million and change, and regardless of his stats from 2011 (under former offensive coordinator Bruce Arians), he can still contribute as the team's 4th receiver. WR Jerricho Cotchery is a value guy, not a necessary guy, and likely won't be back in 2012, judging by the current cap predictions of around $ 120 million.

NT Casey Hampton tore his ACL Jan. 8 at Denver. That means the 35-year-old Hampton began the standard rehabilitation time in 2012, and the likelihood of making a full recovery in the same calendar year at his age (let alone conditioning issues) is very low. He doesn't have much of a choice but to take a pay reduction and start the year on the physically-unable-to-perform (PUP) list. That would give the Steelers a roster exemption to keep Hampton there until he's able to play.

Nine months is the typical stated recovery time for a torn ACL. Even if you don't factor in the time to get back into shape from that many months of relative inactivity, Hampton would have to exceed expectations if he'll be ready to play by Week 1.

With James Farrior and Larry Foote - the current buck linebackers - it seems at least one of them will have to take a paycut to stay in town. The Steelers could decide to cut one and reduce the contract of the other, but the main concern with this is depth. The buck is the quarterback of the defense - the guy who makes the pre-snap adjustments at the line. The Steelers will not find anyone this year more experienced and ready to play the position in this regard than Farrior or Foote, so the release of either of them will hurt this team on the field in the short run. It's something that likely has to be done though, so expect the Steelers to find someone in this year's draft to groom for the spot in 2013.

Contract Restructures

OLB LaMarr Woodley and ILB Lawrence Timmons have agreed to contract restructures, which will provide some needed relief (exact figures were not released, per the Post-Gazette).

While the Post-Gazette reported they may look into restructuring the contracts of SS Troy Polamalu and QB Ben Roethlisberger, it seems more likely that Roethlisberger's contributions to the cap issue could come in the form of an extension. If he agrees to tack on another two years to his current deal and spreads the money due to him in that time frame a bit more evenly, he'll get more in the end and help keep the team financially viable so he can continue winning (he has to be aware that it'll be hard to compete with the amount of rookie and veteran minimum guys the Steelers will need to sign if money doesn't get freed up). Now that Patriots QB Tom Brady has been to five Super Bowls and Giants QB Eli Manning has won his second, Roethlisberger knows he's got some work to do.

March 13 and Restricted Free Agency

Some combination/variation of those moves would probably get them to the point where the top 51 guys are under the cap - required by March 13.

March 13 is also when restricted free agency begins, concerning players whose contracts have expired but who have no more than three years of experience.

The Steelers restricted free agents are WR Mike Wallace, TE David Johnson, LG Doug Legursky, RG Ramon Foster, CB Keenan Lewis, and FS Ryan Mundy.

Restricted free agents are allowed to pursue offers from other teams, but depending on the level tendered by their current team, the new team must provide a draft pick or picks as compensation. That compensation is based on this scale:

  • First Round (highest tender), $ 2.742 million
  • Second Round, $ 1.927 million
  • Original Round/Right of First Refusal $ 1.26 million

Before the new Collective Bargaining Agreement reached between the league and the NFLPA, the highest level tender was for a first and third round pick. That level no longer exists.

Each of the Steelers' restricted free agents will receive one of the top three tender offers. Steel City Insider's Jim Wexell estimates the total amount tendered to those six players will be around $ 7.75 million. To get to that mark, the extra cap space provided by restructuring and releasing will need to be bolstered by a few other cuts. The amount of room those cuts will provide depends on the structure of their contracts (some players are owed a certain amount of money if they are still on the roster on the first day of the new league year, meaning, they would have to be cut before March 13, like Bryant McFadden and Arnaz Battle), but some are owed certain money if they are on the roster a few days after the start of the new league year.

With that, it's likely Chris Kemoeatu and Will Allen will be released in order to free money up for the restricted free agents.

Part II will deal with some of the specific tactics used in restricted free agency, as well as a potential candidate for a contract extension.



Source: Behind the Steel Curtain


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