When you look at the daunting salary cap issues that the Pittsburgh Steelers have facing them in 2012, there seems to be some wiggle room on at least a couple of the high priced contracts of linebackers LaMarr Woodley and Lawrence Timmons and it comes as a result of how the new contracts each signed prior to the start of the 2011 season were structured.
In 2012 Woodley has a $5.5 million roster bonus due to go along with his $3.4 million base salary and his amortized portion of his signing bonus which is $2.6 million. His 2012 cap hit is currently scheduled to be $11.5 million. The Steelers I believe have until the 10th day after the new league year starts in March to reduce the salary cap hit of a roster bonus if they guarantee it before they pay it out. Guaranteeing that roster bonus allows them to spread the cap hit of it over the remaining years on the player’s contract. In the case of Woodley they would guarantee the $5.5 million and spread it out over the remaining 5 years. That would mean a $4.4 million reduction in his 2012 cap number and make his new cap hit roughly $7.1 million.
In the case of Timmons, who has a $4.4 roster bonus due, the same guarantee can be done which would lower his 2012 cap number from $9.125 to $5.525 roughly. His 2012 base salary is scheduled to be $2.625 million and there is $2 million in addition to that which is amortized signing bonus on his new deal.
The maneuvering and guaranteeing of these roster bonuses should be able to lower the Steelers cap number by roughly $8.275 million which may allow players like James Farrior and Larry Foote to avoid being cap causalities. Once again you have to tip your hat to chief contract negotiator Omar Khan for the way he structured these new deals and already in January we are seeing the pending 2012 cap hell seem a little less hellish. There will still be some casualties, but maybe not as many as even I first anticipated.