Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk evidently just found the contract of Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and as a result, he thought it would be fun to do a little fear mongering now that Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network hasn’t done any in the last couple of days.
Florio is just now realizing that the Steelers have restructured Roethlisberger’s contract three times over the years and as a result, his cap number in 2014 is $18.895 million. Someone should tell him that Abraham Lincoln has been shot and that we have landed on the moon.
Florio, however, is telling the truth when he says the Steelers already have $132 million in cap commitments for 2014, despite having only 40 players under contract. He uses this as a reason why Roethlisberger will need to take less this coming offseason if he signs an extension, but that isn’t necessarily true.
For starters, tackle Levi Brown will not be on the roster come the start of the new league year, so that alone will save the Steelers $6.25 million in cap space. In addition, I fully expect the Steelers will restructure the contract of wide receiver Antonio Brown once again. By turning $5 million of his $6 million base salary into a signing bonus, that will clear another $3.75 million in cap space. Those two moves alone will clear $10 million in cap space and we haven’t even scratched the surface.
Moving on, raise your hand if you think cornerback Ike Taylor will be allowed to earn a $7 million base salary next season. Should he not take a $3 million cut in pay, the Steelers will save the full $7 million by releasing him. You know he wants to finish his career in Pittsburgh, so something will be worked out.
Safety Troy Polamalu, as I have pointed out several times over the course of the last year, will be the huge elephant in the room after the season ends. He is scheduled to earn a base salary next season of $8.25 million and the Steelers will almost certainly go to him and see about reducing that by at least two million. If push comes to shove and they are forced to release him, they will save the full $8.25 million.
Digging deeper, there is just over $2.5 million in cap space to be saved by releasing linebacker Larry Foote and guard Ramon Foster if it comes to that.
While it won’t clear a ton of cap space, I fully expect that tight end Heath Miller will be given a modest extension. Even if that doesn’t come to fruition, they can still work around his $9.47 cap number.
So back to Roethlisberger. A new extension that averages around $21.5 million can certainly be worked out depending on how it is structured and for how long. The guaranteed amounts will be the real meat of the contract negotiations and that’s not breaking news. Even if they were to give him a $35 million signing bonus as part of a new three year extension, his new cap number in 2014 would be roughly $14.8 million and that would be around $4 million less than he was originally scheduled to count against the cap. Guarantee him a second year base salary of $5 million and that results in a 2015 cap number of $18.795 which is only slightly higher than what it is scheduled to be right now. That alone would give Roethlisberger $41 million in guaranteed money over the first two years with three years left to fill in the blanks as it relates to base salaries, roster bonuses and workout bonuses.
Now, will it work out exactly like that number wise? Probably not, but there is some flexibility in there. For Florio to say that Roethlisberger has to give a huge discount, or else, is totally off the mark and irresponsible on his part. As many contracts as Florio has seen over the years and as knowledgeable as he is when it comes the salary cap, you would think that he would know this.