Steelers Marching Towards The Tender Deadline

The 2012 NFL combine has come and gone and now the next key date on the 2012 NFL calendar for the Pittsburgh Steelers is March 5th, as that is the deadline for the restricted tenders and franchise tag to be issued.

Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert told the media during his press conference at the combine that they were still waiting to hear what the official cap number will be for 2012, and that will dictate the moves that will need to be made to be cap compliant by March 13th. The team has already reportedly tendered Isaac Redman, Steve McLendon and Jeremy Kapinos, their three exclusive rights free agents, but have yet to tender any of their restricted free agents that include Mike Wallace, Keenan Lewis, Doug Legursky, Ramon Foster, David Johnson, Ryan Mundy and Jamon Meredith. Meredith is the only one of that group that is not expected to be tendered.

The biggest name of course on the restricted list is Wallace, who said prior to the combine that the two sides had been talking about a new contract that would prevent him from being exposed to free agency. There has not been an update as to how those talks have gone, but Colbert made it clear at the combine that Wallace remains a top priority. Should a new deal not be reached by Monday, the Steelers must decide if they want to use a first round tender or the franchise tag on Wallace. There of course could be a new deal close and the Steelers are just waiting on confirmation of what the 2012 cap number is before pulling the trigger. This also explains the wait on the other restricted tenders as well.

Colbert and company should be back from Indianapolis by now and it figures that we will have a busy news week on the way, as he let it be known that a few more terminations would likely be forthcoming. With only the exclusive tenders being issued thus far and outstanding roster bonuses yet to be paid, the Steelers current Rule of 51 number sits at around $120.5 million. The latest rumblings are that the 2012 cap number will come in at $120 million, which is $5 million less than most have projected. Should that indeed be the number, the Steelers will have quite a bit of work to do to afford the displacement cost of the five expected original round tenders and either a first round tender, a franchise tag or first year cap hit of a new contract for Wallace.

The displacement cost alone on the original round tenders figures to be in the neighborhood of $4.35 million. That number is derived from the difference of a projected tender amount of $1.26 million minus the $390,000 base salary of the players whose spot they will take on the top 51 once tendered, times 5 players. Should Wallace not get a new contract by Monday, it is likely that he will only receive a first round tender that is projected to be $2.742 million. That would create a displacement increase of $2.352 million. All combined, assuming the above is true, the Steelers will need to accommodate roughly $6.7 million or in cap space. Of course that number could be roughly $6.658 million more than that should they decide to use the franchise tag on Wallace instead of a first round tender.

It is safe to say that nearly $7 million worth of cap space at the very minimum needs to be cleared by the 13th and the watch is now on for players like Hines Ward, Chris Kemoeatu, Jonathan Scott, James Farrior and Larry Foote, all of whom could likely either have their 2012 salaries cut or be cut themselves. In addition, if Aaron Smith were to decide to retire, one would think that announcement would come very soon. That would free up just over $2.1 million in cap space very quick.

February was a busy month for the Steelers as they trimmed over $29 million off their 2012 cap with 5 contract restructures and 2 terminations. The month of March is one day away now and so begins the final march towards getting cap compliant.

  • Intropy

    How does retirement differ from a cut with respect to the salary cap and actual take home pay for the player?

  • Lergursky & Mundy are must signs.

  • Joe D

    CUT, CUT, CUT….
    Smith, Ward, Kemo, Farrior…
    I would probably keep Foote and Scott… Foote will probably be a starter if Farrior was cut… and Scott will be a backup… now is the salary too high for Scott as backup… if that is the case… cut/resign!

  • chris

    steelers need to stop playing around and get the vets that they know there going to cut and quit making it ! a waiting game be fair to our vets like hines u know dawn well your not keeping him ….me i think they should get the 2 rounds picks in first round for wallace …get poe and another player and pick up stephen hill to replace wallace runs a 4.36 and gives steelers the tall wr they have been missing !

  • I feel that loyalty is one thing, however if guys like Hines can’t perform at the level thwy use to then desisions have to be made…taking out feelings…feelings dont win games..thank Hines for all he’s done, but a guy have to be honest with themselves when they get older…when to know when to fold-em…sames gos for Smith, and Farrior.

  • kevin

    Scott costs 2.7 mill this year.

  • Am I correct in assuming that we also need to clear space for draft choices or is that included in the 120.5 figure?

  • Joe D

    If they make the cuts now…. they can’t use the negotiating tactic of over CAP with Wallace…
    Steelers will wait until the last minute on March 5 to tender Wallace as they are hoping to get Wallace to sign a contract before tendering!!!
    You will see movement after March 5 and before March 13 (drop dead CAP date!)
    Also, Steelers still don’t know the CAP figure so hard for Steelers and Wallace to negotiate… Wallace seeking to maximize $$$.

  • I’m not sure I would go so far as to say they are must signs but I agree we need to sign them and not risk letting them go for next to nothing.

    My biggest concern at this point is that between cutting guys like Hampton, Kemo, Foote and Farrior and possibly losing some of the other guys due to really low tenders we could get painted into a situation where we have to replace too many players right away. I wouldn’t count on any draft choice except for a first rounder playing next year and if we go ILB in the first we might not get any draftees getting significant time next year.

    We seem to have a lot of options with the cap but guys like Gurk and Mundy can’t be allowed to go for nothing if we are going to have any real flexibility.

  • Joe D

    According to Dave’s CAP figures… top 51 is at $127 million…
    and it doesn’t include draft picks!!!
    So, the amount left to CUT… will be determined with CAP figure is finalized.
    If 120million is CAP…
    Steelers probably have at least another 15million to cut or reconfigure.
    Add Wallace above tender + draft + 7million currently over CAP.

  • SteelersDepot

    The $120.5 figure is where they are at this very moment. It does not include any tenders. They key date right now is to get cap complaint once the new league year starts. Then they will deal with clearing cap space for the draft picks.

  • SteelersDepot

    They save his base salary. It would be no different than a player having his contract terminated. They still would eat the remaining proration of the signing bonus this year as dead money.

  • Thanks Dave.