Willie Colon Settling In Now At Left Guard

Sevens games into the season Pittsburgh Steelers left guard Willie Colon appears to finally be settling into his new position and today I was asked via email if I believed a rumor floating around that he would be a salary cap casualty next year.

Being as so many would rather base their speculation on whims, I will speculate using facts as it relates to how Colon is currently playing and what it would cost to cut him next year.

Colon, who signed a five-year, $29 million contract prior to the 2011 season, is scheduled to earn a base salary of $5.5 million in 2013. His cap hit in 2013 is scheduled to be $7.65 million after restructuring prior to the start of this season.

Should the Steelers decide to cut Colon prior to June 1st of 2013 they will be hit with a $6.45 million dead money charge towards the 2013 cap. So basically they would save only $1.25 million in cap space in doing so. Not really worth it, right?

Sure, they could wait until after June 1st to cut Colon like they did with Max Starks back in 2011 and save $5.5 million in 2013. At that point, though, they would then have a $4.3 million dead money charge due in 2014.

Unlike Starks, once Colon is cut you can bet that he will be snapped up quickly by another team. Let\’s face it, Starks still had gas left in the tank when they cut him and they are fortunate that they have him back in the fold now after the Jonathan Scott experiment flopped and rookie Mike Adams wasn\’t quite ready to assume the left tackle position.

Colon might be 29 years old, but the Hofstra product doesn\’t have a lot of mileage on him for his age thanks to injuries to his Achilles and triceps that forced him to miss all but one game the last two seasons. Prior to those injuries Colon started 50 straight regular season games and he hasn\’t missed a single snap this season. Injury prone? I would call it injury unfortunate, myself.

So what about his play at left guard since the move from right tackle? After all, that is what matters the most. I think we all can agree that the transition certainly got off to a bumpy start, and nobody will forget the four holding calls that he incurred in the game the game against the Philadelphia Eagles. However, since that game, Colon hasn\’t been flagged once and has put together three solid showings.

Has he been perfect? Has it been Pro Bowl worthy? No to both, but progress is being made and the tape doesn\’t lie. If he keeps playing at the same level or better for the rest of the season the Steelers would be foolish to cut him loose.

Also, do not forget that Colon has position flexibility as he could certainly play right tackle should an emergency ever arise.

Every year the fan base and the media freak out about an upcoming salary cap hell. It\’s easy to do, but every year Omar Khan navigates through it with ease and does so without having an extreme amount of casualties that can still play. The last time I checked, Hines Ward, James Farrior, Chris Kemoeatu, Bryant McFadden, and Arnaz Battle never signed with another team following their releases this past offseason.

Sure, the Steelers have some big decisions ahead of them as it relates to Mike Wallace and James Harrison, but they also have wiggle room with the contracts of LaMarr Woodley and Lawrence Timmons as well.

So to answer the question posed by the emailer, unless the play of Colon falls off significantly in the second half of the season, or he suffers another unfortunate injury, he will be back in 2013 under the terms of his current contract.

  • Maurice_hill_district

    Colon still gets knocked back onto his back each game. So he is aggressive now, but not strong. Colon laying on top grinding & humping on a guy on the ground, might be to appear aggresive because he is fighting to not have to take a paycut after this season.

  • Chris S

    He already has a contract for 2 more seasons after this year…why would he be fighting to get a contract when he has one and a fairly nice one at that?!

  • Steve Duncan

    I am more concerned about the status of Troy, who is making a lot of money and can’t seem to get on the field, and Harrison, than I am with Colon.

  • dgh57

    Can’t wait till DeCastro gets back!! O-Line will be STRONG up the middle!! Hope it’s by the Ravens game.

  • Andrew Grigsby

    Im not a big Colon fan overall but he is playing better at guard than i imagined he would in August. As for his future i would imagine he stays around he’s getting the job done. Really can’t see the Steelers drafting another guard in the 1st round of ’13 to replace him so i’d bet he stays.

  • Chris92021

    Colon is playing like I thought he would at LG. I really wished this move happened in 2008 after Faneca left us for the Jets. Colon is always going to have issues with quick guys but he’s a monster if he gets into the open field. Unlike Kemoeatu, Colon’s actually in good enough shape where he can get to the second level. Wait until he gets more experience in the position. Salary cap casualty? I seriously doubt that. If anything, I will say he will be a bargain if he plays LG up to potential.

  • SteelSpine

    Before put Colon in the HOF lets see if he will have more than 1 or 2 decent games at guard & lets see if he can play the season without going to IR again. Tho I too am pulling for Colon to continue to improve his guard play, $7.65 mil is not worth it for guard, that’s why I wouldn’t be shocked if next offseason Steelers brass look at that & look for cheaper players for that left guard spot. Helping Colon’s case is we dont have much option there, unless bring in veteren guard(s) next offseason: Legursky is not good at guard, Beachum was drafted to become a LG but Beachum appears years away, & for-whatever-reason Steeler gurus say Ryan Lee is only a prospect for right guard (that one’s not my words its folks who looked at Lee more than I did). I think Steelers will draft a LG in next draft, but since that probly wont be in the first coupla rounds it wont be the NFL-ready caliber DeCastro was, who we will draft for LG probly wont be ready to start next year. Colon always had potential for being a guard, I’m pulling for him to continue developing there.

  • Tim Barca

    I know that Colon has been out the past 2 years, but before that, this guys was playing at a very high level at the Rt Tackle position and probably our best lineman. I feel that his transition to the LG has been going really well and only getting better each week. At an area of the time where we have had the least consistency, there is no way that the Steelers cut Colon to make space creating all that dead money in turn.

  • Cols714

    As usual freak outs over the Steelers salary cap will be for nothing. Repeat:
    The Steelers do not lose players that they want to keep.
    The Steelers do not lose players that they want to keep.