Over the last few days the Pittsburgh Steelers have been reported as having interest in former Denver Broncos defensive end/outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil and current St. Louis Rams tackle Jake Long. While these reports certainly get the Steelers fan base excited, you have to wonder how much water that these reports hold.
Face it, the Steelers are working with very limited cap space right now. In fact, it is probably less than $3 million right now as we are still waiting to see what the real numbers of quarterback Bruce Gradkowski and tight end Matt Spaeth come in it. That\’s not a lot of room for a first year cap hit for either Long or Dumervil.
Long signed a four-year contract worth as much as $36 million. It also includes guarantees of around $20 million, according to the early reports. We don\’t have the breakdown of the base salaries and signing bonus for Long as of yet, but it is hard to imagine that the Steelers could have come anywhere close to a deal like that that would have produced a first year cap hit that they could afford without cutting another player or restructuring another contract.
Dumervil was willing to take a pay cut to stay with the Broncos, but even he would command way too much money for the Steelers to afford. Both he and Long would want a pretty good amount of money at signing, so both of their first year cap hits would have to be more than $3 million.
We hear that teams are interested in players all of the time during this part of free agency. I am willing to bet that agents are behind a lot of this, especially when it comes to the Steelers, who never confirm or deny any media reports when it comes to interest in free agents, generally. Agents know that the Steelers will not rebuttal the reports, so why wouldn\’t they link their client to them? It creates buzz. It creates a good smoke screen for the Steelers in addition.
Former Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw is a different story, however. Why? He is a running back for starters, and one that has health related question marks attached to him. Running backs are usually crapped on in free agency. The asking price for Bradshaw is likely very cheap. In fact, it is likely pretty much near the minimum right now. A one-year deal for him could easily fit in the Steelers current salary cap situation.
Sure, the Steelers will get an additional $5.5 million in cap space come June when the Colon release is official, but until June 2nd gets here, they have to carry his previously scheduled cap number until then.
What am I getting at here? Don\’t read too much into higher profile free agents being linked to the Steelers. Unless more cuts or restructures are on the way, and I don\’t believe that there are, they can\’t afford to sign anyone high profile. It never hurts for the Steelers to call and ask about each any free agent player, because you never know what the situation is with every one of them. If they did indeed call about Long and Dummervil, I imagine that both of those phone calls didn\’t last very long.