Steelers Continue Perennial Salary Cap Problem


The Steelers have had salary cap problems for a while now and this year is no exception

So spring approaches and that means a few things. It means flowers, it means shamrock shakes, and it means we’re reminded again that the Steelers have salary cap problems. And guess what gang, the Steelers have salary cap problems. In fact, their salary cap problems are so longstanding and rough they’ve begun to receive honors for it.

Well, not quite. But ESPN Insider ranked the teams according to salary cap situation. The Steelers came in fourth, behind the Miami Dolphins, Buffalo Bills, and New England Patriots. Field Yates of ESPN Insider had this to say,

"The Steelers don’t have a laundry list of roster needs. Getting healthy is the primary focus, and from a free-agent standpoint, there are only a few names of significant note. (Left tackle Kelvin Beachum and cornerback William Gay are among those who come to mind.)Pittsburgh locked up quarterback Ben Roethlisberger last offseason and has wide receiver Antonio Brown under contract for three more years; running backLe’Veon Bell has one year left on his deal and could be an extension candidate. So although the Steelers are heavily invested already in 2016, it’s for good reason — the core of the roster is set to return."

So the Steelers are spread pretty thin. That goes without saying. You can measure that. But think of it this way, it’s ok to have all your money tied up, if what it’s tied up in is a good investment. The Steelers money is tied up in the likes of Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, Le’Veon Bell, Maurkice Pouncey, Lawrence Timmons, and Cam Heyward. We’re all ok with that.

But regardless, the Steelers certainly are cutting it close. Perhaps by coincidence and perhaps by timing the Steelers lucked out however. This offseason the Steelers are pretty well situated for being in a position where you have no money. By that I mean, they don’t really need money right now.

The Steelers lost multiple players for multiple games, including multiple all-pro players. Yet, they still were basically a fumble from the AFC Championship. How does a team get to boast such a feat? By being really good all around. The Steelers have a good QB, RB, WRs, O line, TEs. Their offense is stacked. The defense is solid across the board too except for one glaring spot.

The secondary is where the Steelers need to make moves. This is really the only instance where the salary cap problems the Steelers have are going to hurt them this offseason. The Steelers need to improve their secondary, from the fans all the way up to the Rooneys this is a known issue.

The Steelers have problems at corner and at safety. Mike Mitchell is the lone viable long term option at any of the many positions in the secondary. The Steelers can still bring in players. But the cap situation, even with all the inevitable restructuring, is going to prevent any super star signings.

The Steelers also benefit from another free agency situation, their own. The Steelers don’t really have to worry about a lot of big names needing signed this year. They don’t really have to worry about someone needing to upgrade their contract. Steve McLendon might ask for a little more but not much, same goes for Ramon Foster.

The real problem here would be Kelvin Beachum. Luckily however, though not for Beachum, Alejandro Villanueva emerged as a perfectly capable fill in when Beachum went down with an injury. Villanueva still has things to learn but he’s got Munchak to teach him and the line really didn’t miss a beat when Beachum went out. He’ll likely not be with the Steelers next season, and if he is it’s because Villanueva drove the price down.

Expect the Steelers to be active in a few other ways. First, as we’ve already discussed, they’re going to be restructuring and turning salary into bonus and all that magic Colbert works to get the Steelers some breathing room. This will free up enough to sign draft picks and maybe take a run at a corner or safety, but not Josh Norman, sorry.

Second, this might be the end for Cortez Allen. I know many of us hope it is. But that’s a lot of money for a player I frankly can’t remember doing anything. Like, he’s been on the team for a while. He’s not going to break out at 30 years old. It’s over, let’s free up some of that money he’s been making to do nothing.

Third, the Steelers have to resign some players too. So the restructuring, cutting, and players entering free agency will free up money but the draft and resigning players are going to eat up most of it. The Steelers aren’t just going to be resigning free agents. They’ll likely extend a few contracts too.

Certainly DeCastro, who leaves his 5th year option on his rookie contract after 2016, and Bell, who is Le’Veon Bell, are going to get extensions if the Steelers have their way. There’s also Markus Wheaton and Lawrence Timmons to consider, not to mention Heath Miller and Jarvis Jones too.

Next: Steelers Free Agency: Offensive Line

So ya, it’s going to be tight and it’s going to be busy. Kevin Colbert’s got some challenges but he’s managed so far. Let’s watch what he does.