The Pittsburgh Steelers are in a bind financially entering the 2020 offseason. Here’s why Mark Barron, among others, could soon be cap casualties.
Now that the 2019 season is officially over for the Pittsburgh Steelers, they can now turn their focus and get an early start on their salary cap situation. As a team that will certainly need to restructure, release, and re-think their position on which players to retain, there is no question salary cap casualties are forthcoming.
As it currently stands, my top salary cap casualties include OG Ramon Foster, ILB Mark Barron, and OLB Anthony Chickillo.
Foster, breaking into the NFL as an undrafted rookie free-agent in 2009, has defied the odds while being a mainstay in Pittsburgh, as one of the team’s best interior lineman. However, injuries and age, 33, have devalued his stock in recent years.
Last year, Foster hyperextended his knee, forcing him to miss the majority of training camp. This year, he suffered a concussion, sidelining the 11-year veteran for two games, before returning to the starting lineup Week 11 against the Cleveland Browns.
Combine those injuries with his age, and you can see where his value lies. Sure, he’s been a staple and modeled citizen throughout his time in Pittsburgh. That’s huge. But looking at the Steelers’ current salary cap situation, there’s no question, Foster is at the top of the list, in terms of being a cap casualty. His departure would instantly save the Steelers $4 million.
Then there’s Barron. The former Los Angeles Rams inside backer, who was later released, only to be signed two days later by the Steelers. A move that was backloaded, should the team decide to move on after only one season into a two-year deal, it appears that’s what’s about to happen to the Alabama product.
Barron was signed on to help the Steelers 4-2 nickel package. Instead, he has been a routine target covering the curl/flat routes. By my count, Barron was targeted 61 times this season yielding 45 completions for 476 yards, 22 first downs, and 3 touchdowns. If you’re doing the math, that’s yielding a 105.6 passer rating.
Think he’s on the hot seat? Absolutely. Especially since the team would save in excess $5,250,000 million. Like I said earlier, Barron was supposed to be an asset but instead, he was a liability. The team can now clear him off the books and wipe their hands clean with only $2,875,000 in dead money counting against the 2020 cap.
Finally, we have Chickillo. The special-teams ace and rotational depth piece at outside linebacker, Chickillo is also a likely candidate to be looking for work elsewhere. Involved in an alleged domestic incident earlier this season, Chickillo could easily be a cap casualty while saving the Steelers $5 million.
Chickillo is set to earn $6,097,500 in 2020, but the Steelers could cut him, instantly saving $5 million off the books while only absorbing a hit of $1,097,500 in dead money. Financially, this is a no-brainer move, and why the five-year veteran will likely be out of a job in Pittsburgh.
It’s no secret. The Steelers need to restructure some current contracts while wiping their hands clean of others. In a perfect world, they would love to keep the players aforementioned above but that’s not how the NFL works. It’s just the nature of the beast.
With Steelers GM Kevin Colbert’s contract talks up in the air, it will be interesting to see how this thing plays out, as whoever is in charge will have their work cut out for them. Here we go!