Immediately after the news started circulating around that Pittsburgh Steelers guard Willie Colon might be done for the season with a knee injury, I received several questions via Twitter about how much it would cost to release Colon after the season.
Colon signed a five-year, $29 million contract prior to the 2011 season and he restructured that contract to this past offseason to help the team lower his 2012 cap hit. That restructure added on more prorated bonus onto each of his final three years in the process giving him $6.45 million worth of proration left, or $2.15 million per season.
Colon has a base salary due him in 2013 of $5.5 million which means his cap hit in 2013 is scheduled to be $7.65 million. If he were to be released prior to June 1st the entire proration of $6.45 million left on the books comes forward as a dead money hit. So the Steelers essentially only save $1.2 million against next year’s cap.
Should Colon be released after June 1st, his dead money hit would be the originally scheduled prorated amount of $2.15 million, with the remaining $4.3 million scheduled proration counting as dead money in 2014. After June 1st saves $5.5 million in cap space doing it that way, but creates the 2014 dead money hit.
Keep in mind that both Ramon Foster and Doug Legursky are scheduled to be unrestricted free agents as well and that means you run the risk of losing three linemen in the offseason. Colon would easily get signed as free agent if cut, and both Foster and Legursky would also likely get lower valued attention.