The Pittsburgh Steelers may be looking at some offseason roster changes to make cap space for a major signing.
This offseason it is for real. The Steelers are up against the cap and will need to cut some players as well as restructure some contracts. The Steelers will also have to pay Le’Veon Bell if they want to keep him. So, it brings us to a point where we should look at possible cap casualties.
The biggest name that could be a cap casualty is Mike Mitchell. He is starting to age and is on the wrong side of 30 now. He may have been playing hurt, but it is clear that his game is beginning to decline. He also has been somewhat outspoken and might be an overly emotional player. The Steelers have him under contract for 2018, but you have to think if the Steelers get a safety in the first couple rounds of the draft that the Steelers may want to move on from Mitchell. I think he ends up playing out his contract, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the Steelers drafted safety early.
Vance McDonald is another starter that could be a cap casualty. He has a long contract, but it is structured in a way that a team could part ways with him easily. McDonald was the Steelers best tight end and a surprisingly good blocker last year. He had a big game that was overshadowed by the ire felt after the Steelers early exit from the playoffs. The problem was that he was hurt a lot of the year and the Steelers may want a healthier, cheaper option at tight end.
Darius Heyward-Bey is due over a million dollars next year and his decline as a special teams player may make him expendable. The Steelers are early in the offseason, but you have to think cheaper special teams players are attainable. Heyward-Bey has been a gunner over the years but may have sunk to only a part-time gunner and kickoff coverage specialist. That may not be enough going into 2018.
William Gay is now 33 and is not the player he was a couple years ago. Over his career, his intelligence has improved as he has declined physically. He is still a good athlete for his age, but what is keeping him in the league is the ability to be in the right place at the right time. The Steelers have six other corners under contract next year and so it may be time for Gay to go. I could see Cameron Sutton taking over as the top backup on the outside and in the slot.
JJ Wilcox is another possible cap casualty. The Steelers got him at the beginning of the season because they were very thin at safety. From a depth standpoint, you have to guess the Steelers will draft a safety as they wanted to last year. This makes expensive, backup safeties like JJ Wilcox expendable.