The Steelers were able to keep Bud Dupree around for the 2020 season, but not without a cost. Here’s what Pittsburgh can do to retain B.J. Finney and Mike Hilton.
The Pittsburgh Steelers were hardly the center of attention yesterday. A handful of NFL teams made some splash trades (some more head-scratching than others). Though Kevin Colbert doesn’t have the finances to makes moves of that magnitude, the Steelers did a retooling of their own.
On Monday, Pittsburgh parted ways with four players. Anthony Chickillo, Mark Barron, and Johnny Holton were all cut, while long-time starting guard, Ramon Foster, decided to hang up his cleats for good. In addition, the Steelers handed Bud Dupree the $15.89 million franchise tag and they restructured Vance McDonald’s contract to create more cap space in 2020.
Even with all of these moves, the Steelers had barely enough money to dig themselves out of a hole. Now they are left with some major vacancies.
Obviously, Javon Hargrave will not be returning to the team in 2020. He’s projected to receive $14.7 million in yearly value, according to Spotrac.com, and the Steelers can’t free up that kind of money for a part-time player. In addition, the hole at the starting left guard needs to be filled with the departure of Ramon Foster, but B.J. Finney is an unrestricted free agent.
The Steelers need to make a decision regarding Finney and cornerback Mike Hilton very soon. Both players are expected to hit the free-agent market unless the team is able to offer them a tender. However, money is obviously scarce. As of Monday, Pittsburgh was dead last in the league in cap space, and they will need to free up more than $6 million if they are hoping to retain both players in 2020 on a second-round tender.
Though the Steelers are running out of options and players to cut, one way they could free up this cap space is to restructure Ben Roethlisberger’s contract. Pushing some of Ben’s cap numbers back into 2021 could free up nearly $10 million this season, according to Over the Cap.
While this would be more than enough money to keep both Finney and Hilton this season, it doesn’t come without its ramifications. Pushing back Ben’s money will cost Pittsburgh upwards of $40 million against the cap in 2021 – a number that seems a bit unreasonable for a quarterback who will be 39 years old. The Steelers will essentially be locked into Roethlisberger until his deal expires in the 2022 offseason.
It’s never easy trying to crunch all of the numbers and figure out how to keep key players around, but the Steelers are one of the best team’s in the league at doing so. Pittsburgh will still need money to fill out their roster and sign their rookie draft class, so retaining both Finney and Hilton may not be in the cards. However, restructuring Roethlisberger could help.