Four Steelers Players That Could Wind Up Being Salary Cap Casualties

Pittsburgh Steelers General Manager Kevin Colbert talked to members of the media on Wednesday and he had some pretty strong words as it relates to the 2013 roster. Colbert said during that talk that the organization is not married to any one player on the roster.

“If we don’t change 8-8, if we don’t change the roster that produced 8-8, we\’d be silly to expect a better result if we have the same group of guys … We\’re not married to any of these guys,” Colbert said.

Colbert also let it be known that the Steelers will get themselves under the salary cap through terminations, extensions, and restructuring of some existing contracts.

As far as terminations go, these will be what you would call cap casualties and there aren\’t many candidates for those when you look at the players currently under contract for 2013.

Below are the four players that Colbert is most likely looking at releasing over the course of the next 8 weeks and the amount that the team will save salary cap wise by doing so.

James Harrison – I have been talking about Harrison being a possible salary cap casualty this season long before last season even got underway. The veteran linebacker will be 35 in May and his base salary due him next season is $6.57 with a cap hit of $10.035 million. The Steelers can clear $5.105 million in cap space by releasing him. Will he take a straight $3 million plus reduction in his base salary to stay? We will see, but even that might not be enough to save him.

Willie Colon – Colon has been on the injured reserve list for three straight seasons now and has played in a total of 12 games since he signed a five-year, $29 million contract prior to the 2011 season. The Steelers also restructured his contract last season as well in order to free up cap space, but you can bet there will be no restructure this time around. The Steelers only stand to save $1.2 million in cap space by releasing him, but at least they will not be paying a $5.5 million salary to player that is now a high risk to not play a full season.

Brett Keisel – Keisel is next on the list only because of his age and his salary. Do I think that he will ultimately be a cap casualty? No, but I would also not bet my house that he is 100% in the clear either. 2013 is the final year of Keisel\’s contract, so the math is pretty simple with him. He is scheduled to earn a $2.825 million base salary and count $4.5 million against the cap. The cap savings here? The base salary of $2.825 million.

Jerricho Cotchery – I can hear everyone now. No, not Jerricho! Much like Keisel, you have to at least consider him as a possibility because of his cost and production up until this point. Cotchery is set to earn a $1 million base salary in 2013 and count $1.5 million against the cap. Releasing him saves that $1 million. How bad do they need that $1 million in cap space? We will soon find out.

The other names that folks will likely try to throw around as potential cap casualties are Troy Polamalu, Ryan Clark and Ike Taylor. I can tell you right now, all four of the players are safe even though Colbert claims that he isn\’t married to anyone right now. I would be pretty shocked if any of those three players are released.

Should all four of the aforementioned players wind up being released the Steelers will clear a total of $10.13 million in salary cap space.

You can see the complete 2013 salary cap situation for the Steelers here that is updated on a regular basis.

  • steeltown

    I understand mentioning guys like Cotchery and Keisel, but I just dont see it.

    I said it before, in an effort to save more/spend less I could see them NOT tendering a player like Sylvestor (not spending $1.3million) rather then cutting a player like Cotchery to save basically the same amount

    I think it really comes down to Harrison and Colon and as much as it pains me, it doesnt make sense to cut Colon to only save $1.2million in cap

    Question: Bryan, doesnt cutting Colon AFTER June 1st save 5.5million in cap in 2013 (pushing some dead money to 2014)??? So in theory, cutting two players (Colon & Harrison) could save over 10million as well? If thats the case, that really could be a possibility.

    The biggest unknown is Harrison, who is still playing well, but cost too much. Worilds could very well start at OLB, he seems to be ready and has been productive when given a chance to play. Still, will be sad day when Harrison is no longer in a Steelers uniform.

  • Cols714

    Cotchery, Harrison, and Keisel are probably all coming back. Colon is different, I could see that going either way.

  • steeltown

    If Foster is re-signed, Colon is gone in my opinion. If I were the Steelers I would doing everything I can to keep Foster. Ramon stays healthy and contributes, Willie does NOT, simple as that

  • SteelersDepot

    Problem with designating them as post June 1st cuts is that you still have to carry their original cap charge until June 1st. They need to be cap compliment by the middle of March. If they are indeed going to release both they will do so early enough so they can catch on with other teams.

  • steeltown

    Aha, right right thanks

  • SteelersDepot

    To refresh the your memories of the cap casualties from last offseason, they were: James Farrior, Hines Ward, Aaron Smith, Chris Kemoeatu, Bryant McFadden & Arnaz Battle

  • chitownsteel

    You think colon be cut and re-sign?

  • steeltown

    Funny how LG seems to be such a chore.

    ILB, WR, DE, OG, CB… hmmm seems eerily similar to ‘possible’ positions of need THIS offseason

  • Mike Carroll

    Agree completely on the analysis for Colon. As his employer, I am sure team is much more likely to cut Colon due to the additional $5.5M in salary they would have to pay out of the team’s pocket, as compared to the fairly small cap savings the team gets by cutting him.

    And the more I consider the current state of the Steelers, the more I am convinced Colon will be the first guy cut this offseason in spite of his minor cap savings.

  • SteelersDepot

    No, because he wouldn’t be a savings then if he was a pre June 1st cut. You only save $1.2 million in the first place. Signing him back to the minimum reduces those savings greatly.

  • chitownsteel

    ok, i see.

  • JohnnyV1

    I believe Cotchery stays given the unsettled receiver position. Colon goes. Keisel gets some sort of extension. Harrison is the tough one to figure out. Once his knee healed, he played progressively better. If his knee checks out, and he’s willing to restructure (aka paycut w/ incentives) he will stay. If his knee isn’t sound and/or he’s unwilling to the restructure, he’s out.

  • steeltown

    Man, 12games since signing that 5yr deal?…absolute garbage

    I think theyve shown to have given Willie a chance to prove himself and to prove he can stay healthy.. when healthy he plays well.. but that is too seldom. Colon is due to make the majority of the contracted money over the next three yrs (high base salary with high cap hits)

    An 8-8 team can no longer afford to carry dead weight at such a high price

  • Jollyrob68

    Keep Cotchery and play him,Reduce Kiesel to vet minimum if he balks/release him, Cut Harrison & Colon. Reduce Troy P to 2 mil, Reduce Ike’s cap hit. Don’t resign Hampton, Foote,Mendenhall. It’s time for a youth movement..

  • Jefferson_St_Joe

    If I looked at film and studied every play, I might feel differently, but I think I want Harrison for 1 more year instead of getting in to a deeper cap hole hoping Woodley gets back to form.

  • awlcohen

    And not one of those got a job. Sad to think that if they didn’t have big cap numbers at least a few of these underperforming relics would still be on the roster. Colbert can only save this team from themselves when he has absolutely no other choice.

  • Maurice_hill_district

    Agreeing with all that. Glad u predicted the reaction to Cotchery, becaus I’m one of many who thinks Cotch can contribute more than many Steelers who get paid more than Cotch. The system of having to keep players (all positions) just becaus they got drafted high or get overpaid, isnt fair to Cotch.

  • Maurice_hill_district

    That info is indeed helpful.

  • Maurice_hill_district

    Wow, good catch!

  • Maurice_hill_district

    Amen amen, regarding Colon. Colon had bin healthy, so Steelers gambled by signing him to long-term deal, then it bit them in the.. eh.. colon.

  • Maurice_hill_district

    Cut colon sounds painful.

  • Mike Carroll

    Good point about none of last year’s guys landing on another team. The team’s management needs to keep that in mind when they are assessing their own job performance.

  • Maurice_hill_district

    I think that all is right on.

  • steeltown

    I think Harrison played well when healthy and I DO think he has more good football in him, but at that price, he is in serious consideration for release. I think he would have to take a straight paycut to remain

  • NW86

    Good point about potentially not tendering Sylvester, and keeping Cotchery. I agree. Also, even without tendering Sylvester, there’s a chance he might not get much attention and you could still end up getting him back at league minimum.

  • NW86

    All right, I’ll take the bait here…why is Troy so safe? We all know he can be an incredibly dynamic player, but how much of that did we get to see in 2012? How much more do we expect in 2013? With a $7.5M salary and $10+M cap hit, it just doesn’t seem worth it (as much as I love him). I think he gets asked to take a pay cut, and I think he takes it. If he doesn’t though…I’m just saying it’s not impossible that he won’t be in a Steeler uniform in 2013.

    Basically we need to save at least $25M in cap in order to make room for tenders, draft picks, and a couple free agents. Only about half of that can reasonably be expected to come from restructures. Cutting Harrison and Colon only gives you another $6.3M. As much as I hate to see it, I think we do see at least one more cut, I just don’t know who it will be…

  • mokhkw

    & lets not forget the ones we did cut who are doing well with other teams; John Kuhn FB Packers (Pro-Bowl) and Kraig Urbik ( starting RG for Bills who had the best pass protection % of all starting Guards in 2011)

  • 3 of the 6 also retired…

  • steeltown

    Exactly.. I know Timmons and Foote both stayed healthy and played every game last year, so Sly didnt get playing time by default, but also he hasnt stayed healthy himself.

    If you remember when Sly was drafted Coach Butler said he would compete with Foote for the backup (BUCK) spot behind Farrior. Then last year he would compete with Foote for the starting BUCK spot. Well, now here we are a year later, Foote is the starter and might be gone as Farrior was before him, but there is NO WAY they see Sylvestor as the starting BUCK LB if Foote leaves, no way. He barely played a handful of snaps on Defense in 2012.

    Because of this, I see them retaining Foote for ONE more season.. they could give Foote the $1.3million they save from NOT tendering Sly, ha!

  • Tom

    “why is Troy so safe? We all know he can be an incredibly dynamic
    player, but how much of that did we get to see in 2012? How much more
    do we expect in 2013?”

    I agree with this concern.

  • alex

    Colon has been an unfortunate annual injury in waiting, Harry just might have a year left in him, Keisel to, and Cotchey catching 40 passes is just what the youngsters need to see to focus…

    and then there is the salary cap issue…!?

  • Remember, we basically cut Kuhn and Urbik with out giving them a real chance, to keep guys that are killing us now.

  • Mike

    If we wait until after June 1, we can save $5.5M by releasing Colon. The extra $4.4M charge will come next year when the cap is set to significantly expand due to the new TV deals.

  • wiggle bead

    Somebody had smoked crack, thinking that the steelers liked LSD. The question is=who smoked it?

  • wiggle bead

    Who likes the smurfs. They are my friends. We watch steelers games together.