No Vacancy For The Hotel

I have been asked quite a bit why the Steelers have not re-signed Flozell Adams back after right tackle Willie Colon was lost for the season this past Sunday and the simple answer is there just is not enough cap room to meet his likely salary demands. I finally cleared up my 2011 salary cap numbers following the final cutdowns and prior to the new contract signed by Troy Polamalu, the Steelers were roughly $2.23 million under the cap. The new official contract numbers have yet to surface, but it figures it would only slightly increase or decrease his original 2011 cap hit of $8.595 million.

The Steelers reportedly reached out to Adams after the Sunday game, but no deal was imminent likely because of his demands. Adams was released shortly after the Steelers reported to training camp this year as he was set to earn $5 million this year. They likely asked Adams to take a pay cut or add another cheap year to his contract, but he likely declined.

The Steelers have nearly $3 million worth of dead money this year after the release of Max Starks, Antwaan Randle El, Limas Sweed, Crezdon Butler and the other free agents, draft pick and undrafted free agents that had signing bonuses. Thanks to the Colon injury, he now joins Byron Leftwich and Baron Batch on injured reserve where they combine to cost the Steelers over $5 million in cap space. Yes these players still count against the cap even though they are on IR.

As far as clearing cap room right now, they can not release players with 4 or more accrued season like Aaron Smith because their contracts are now fully guaranteed after week 1 of the season. They still would be on the hook for the $6.1 he counts against the cap. The only players they economically release would be the ones at the bottom end of the roster with less than 4 years accrued. If those players have signing bonuses attached, that would add onto the dead money for this year. That boils down to players like Steve McLendon and Ramon Foster as realistic cuts, but they just do not save you any real money to do so.

The other option would be to go to a few players and try to restructure their 2011 base, but you will be pushing even more money off to future years and setting up an even bigger cap hell. Not that it is not manageable to do that and worry about it later though and should yet another injury happen; they might not have any other choice to do so.

Also if you look at the risk involved in signing a 36 year old tackle that missed quite a few snaps last year like Adams did, you can see that by meeting his high contract demands you are putting all of your eggs in one basket that he will not go down with an injury.

What about re-signing Starks you ask? He already counts $2 of the $3 million in dead money this year and has another $2 million left in dead money that will hit the cap next year. That money is long gong as part of his signing bonus paid him on his last contract. The $4 million is just for accounting purposes as he has long since been paid that. Thus the dead money term. There is no way to tie that into another contract to my knowledge. He must have really been out of shape and unhealthy for them to eat that type of money, so bringing him back now is highly unlikely unless he is the player he was prior to the injury last year and he would have to play for damn near the minimum.

Judging by the looks of Smith in week 1 against the Ravens, you can see that this one decision to keep him and his $6.1 million cap charge might be one of the biggest gaffs that Kevin Colbert has made in some time. Had they released Smith prior to week 1 he would have only cost $1.6 in dead money this year, a savings of $4.5 million. There is your money needed to re-sign The Hotel for a season or another higher profile tackle.

The Steelers have chosen to sign a former student of Sean Kugler, Jamon Meredith, after placing Colon on IR. His salary is not guaranteed and there was no signing bonus included in his minimum contract. If he does not work out the Steelers can just release him and replace with yet another street bum until they find one to their liking.

As of right now there is no vacancy in Steelers hotel for Adams.

  • I cannot understand why they didn’t cut Smith. Everyone thought his salary was way to high and we could of used that money for a good O line free agent when they were available. Its not like we didn’t know the line sucked. Not to mention we held a roster spot for Smith last year which was a waste. I love Smith but the Steelers don’t sem to be good at cutting guys at the right time. We let Porter and Faneca go when they still had a little bit in the tank, but it was the right choice. Now we seem to keep guys that barely have anything left and pay them big money!!!!

  • Intropy

    Consider the situation before the season. Cutting Smith saves 4.5 million for one year, but that year doesn’t look like the problem year for salaries. If you’re going for real upgrades, you’re looking for multi-year guys, and cutting Smith doesn’t help much with that since he’s a free agent in 2012 anyway. Cutting Smith frees up money for stop gap players, or maybe restructuring a contract to bring money forward and lower the hit in the future years. Today we know Colon’s on IR and Flozell would be nice to have, conditioning permitted. But Adams made it clear he was only interested in starting at tackle, and you already had Colon for that. Unless you think Adams could start at left or were on the Colon to guard bandwagon, there’s just no place to fit Adams. An argument could be made for keeping a rainy day fund, but the front office probably saw Aaron Smith as a player more valuable than 4.5 million just in case. The injuries have been a real concern, but I would be wary of declaring Smith finished based on just the first game, especially since nearly the whole team stank up the joint.

  • SteelersDepot

    I by no means am ready to call Smith finished on 1 week of play, but that is all we have to go on at this point. The tape through game 4 will tell the story on him for sure though. At the very least Smith should have been given the ultimatum to take a cut or be cut. I think we all can agree on that. You indeed can’t predict injuries and yes I was the pioneer for the Colon to guard switch, but all of that is a moot point right now. Smith is the 5th highest cap hit now on the team this year and that wiggle room could have been used anywhere. Hopefully Smith lives up to that money so we will not be tempted to point to it. Hopefully Gilbert is who I think he is. It is way too early to point at that one decision I agree, but it is worth throwing out there for discussion. We will have our answer after week 4 I think.

  • Kenneth Wilt

    Ultimately the NFL needs to go to the NHL system of injury replacement. In the NHL once a player goes on the long term IR, you can spend up to his cap hit for a replacement player. This is ideal for the NFL as well, but I would tweak it to only be players who had guaranteed contracts. This would preserve vets jobs while still allowing teams wiggle room should the player get hurt.

  • Ty019

    We have gone from a team that would never keep a talented vet to paying every vet. I know the accounting aspect of the salary can be difficult but, to say we have 3 vet on defense that should have taken significant pay cuts or been cut. (Smith, Farrior too slow but great leader and Gay, he must have picture on management doing something aweful.

  • Joe D

    I’ve been point to Aaron Smith salary since summer camp started…
    Yep… they should have cut him and brought him back at lower salary if he didn’t voluntarily agree to a cut!!!
    Heck, he owes it to the Steelers… he got what $10 million the last 2 years for sitting at home!!!