The biggest remaining questions for the Pittsburgh Steelers are when they will sign Le’Veon Bell and Alejandro Villanueva. With their remaining cap space, this may not get done in 2017.
The Pittsburgh Steelers currently have $14,941,928 in cap space available this season. Although, not all of that money can go towards contracts. The front office needs to save $1.08 million for the last two members of the 53-man roster, $1.224 million must go towards the practice squad, and $3.5 million is expected to be retained for emergency purposes.
So, realistically, Pittsburgh has $9,137,928 to work with when signing their two star offensive players. That isn’t crazy amounts of money, leaving questions as to whether or not they’ll be able to sign both by the end of the season.
For Bell, he may be okay with keeping his $12 million franchise tag. Although it offers no long-term security, it does hand him a hefty chunk of change for the 2017 season. Something he won’t receive from Pittsburgh by signing a deal this season.
Villanueva, on the other hand, is dealing with a much bigger problem. He’s only been given an exclusive rights tender, which will pay him $650,000 this season. While, to the average person, that’s a substantial paycheck, NFL left tackles usually receive much more than the league minimum.
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By adding Stephon Tuitt to the mix, who won’t need a contract extension until the end of 2017, Pittsburgh needs to somehow find a way to sign three star players with less than $10 million in cap space.
Realistically, only one player is likely to get signed in 2017. With Bell already receiving a significantly larger sum of money compared to Villanueva and Tuitt, he’s likely last on the list of priorities this season. Even if fans are optimistic a deal will get done, Bell may not be willing to take a pay cut when he can sign a long-term deal after the season.
Tuitt and Villanueva could both receive contracts if they’re the only two to sign this season. Tuitt’s current $1,466,641 in 2017 could be increased to somewhere near $5 or $6 million, while Villanueva could receive the remaining cap space.
As much as Bell, the Steelers, and the fans would love to see their star running back sign a long-term deal this season, the numbers indicate that it’s not a strong possibility. If Pittsburgh wants to utilize their money in a smart and efficient way, they’ll look to use this year’s cap space to sign Tuitt and Villanueva and focus on Bell next offseason.
It’s not the outcome everyone is hoping for, but the logical outcome of 2017 is using Pittsburgh’s remaining cap space to sign two stars other than Bell.