Now that the Pittsburgh Steelers have made their final roster moves we have a much firmer grip on what the 2014 salary cap situation will look like.
As of Sunday, the Steelers have 38 players under contract for 2014 with cap chargers totaling just over $119 million. In addition, they currently have nearly $4.5 million in dead money charges on the 2014 books with most of it coming from the post June 1st release of guard Willie Colon. When you add everything together you will see that the Steelers already have nearly $124 million in cap charges for 2014, and they also need 13 more players to fill out the Rule of 51.
When you add in 13 more players at the minimum, you might as well tack on another $7 million in cap charges, so that brings the grand total to $131 million.
It will be several months until we know what the cap number will be for 2014, but many have projected that it will remain flat. For now, we will go with the assumption that it will come in at $125 million. So essentially the Steelers are already $6 million over that projected number.
While the task of getting the number under control looks daunting right now, the main point of emphasis next offseason will be to extend the contract of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in a way that will reduce his cap charge in 2014. In addition to extending Roethlisberger, the Steelers will also look to extend the contracts of center Maurkice Pouncey, cornerback Cortez Allen and quite possibly even tight end Heath Miller. Baring any of those four players suffering a serious injury in 2013, you have to think those extensions will get done without any issues at some point during the offseason.
Early next offseason, the Steelers will need to address the contracts of safety Troy Polamalu and cornerback Ike Taylor, the two elephants that will be in the room that will be entering their final years. This past offseason those two elephants where Colon and linebacker James Harrison and we all know how that turned out.
Should Polamalu return to greatness in 2013 and play in all 16 games, it will be mighty hard to ask him to take a pay cut next offseason. In other words, his play and health in 2013 will dictate whether or not he stays in 2014. It's hard to imagine that the Steelers would cut him outright, but there might not be any way around it. As blasphemous as it may sound, 2013 could very well be Polamalu's final year in Pittsburgh.
As far as Taylor goes, they will likely ask him to take a pay cut. How much of a pay cut? Probably around $3-4 million. If he refuses, they will have no choice but to release him as it would save $7 million in much-needed cap space. I know Taylor wants to play out his current contract, and I truly believe he will return in 2014 at a discounted rate.
Will the Steelers have to restructure any contracts next year? It's really hard to say right now as it could depend on whether or not wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders and defensive end Ziggy Hood get extensions worked out over the course of the next week. If Sanders is indeed extended, his contract will likely have second year money that can be turned into a signing bonus through a simply restructure. Outside of him, the bank of Antonio Brown will be open for business as he has a $6 million base salary due to him in 2014 of which $5 million can be easily restructured.
We will revisit this again in a few more weeks, but the plan for next offseason is already set in stone as the Steelers will once again need to trim around $20 million in cap space.
|Player||Base Salary||Cap Charge|
|Total Under Contract||$88,981,009||$131,318,583|
|Total Dead Money||*||$4,552,933|