Ben Volin, who covers the Miami Dolphins for the Palm Beach Post, joined me for a short phone interview just a while ago to clarify the $3 million veteran salary cap credits included in the new labor agreement that teams can use in 2011 to give them some instant cap relief. Volin explained that teams can designate up to three players currently under contract, with at least 5 accrued seasons or more in the league, and take a $1 million salary cap credit on each. The credit has to be accounted for in future years, but can be stretched out over a course of a four year span in years 2014-2017. Should the team use all three $1 million credits in 2011, for example, it would count as a $750,000 dead money charge in 2014, 2015, 2016 & 2017. In addition, Volin explains that in 2012 teams will have another $1.5 million in credits they can use in the same way. This equates to a $500,000 credit per player for up to three veteran players and they too can also be stretched out over the same four year period as well.
As far as how this relates to the Steelers, you could see them use these credits on veterans like Flozell Adams, Aaron Smith and Hines Ward for example and receive a quick $3 million salary cap credit in doing so. This would likely lower the chance that there will be many, if any, salary cap casualties over the next few days as the Steelers attempt to get under the $120.4 million salary cap number by Friday. Should the Steelers quickly sign linebacker LaMarr Woodley to an extension over the course of the next few days and convert a big portion of the 2011 base salary of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger into signing bonus money, it could possibly be enough to get the Steelers close to, if not under the cap number if they choose to also use these credits at their disposal.
This does not mean that there will not be any salary cap casualties at all, but certainly lessens the chance if the credits are indeed used. You could also see a few more base salaries restructured and turned into signing bonus money to also lower the cap hit of a player.
I thank Ben for joining me on a short notice and you can listen to the interview with him below. Make sure to follow Ben on Twitter at @BenVolinPBP.