Cap Space Should Not Prevent Steelers From Signing Alex Carrington

While the Pittsburgh Steelers did make a move in free agency yesterday to help bolster the defensive line, it wasn’t the move that many were hoping they would make. Rather than coming to an agreement with free agent defensive end candidate Alex Carrington, the Steelers signed Cam Thomas.

Thomas, a former San Diego Charger, was brought in to fill the void, and the role, left behind with the departure of Al Woods. Woods was the utility man, the Chris Hoke of the defensive line last season.

In addition to taking regular reps in a defensive end rotation with Brett Keisel, Ziggy Hood, and Cameron Heyward, Woods also spelled nose tackle Steve McLendon at times, and ended up starting there twice toward the end of the season.

This is likely the role Thomas will fill in Pittsburgh, though he is more of a nose tackle than an end. He probably isn’t much of a threat to win a starting job, but his $1.5 million cap charge is not much problem either.

The NFL Players Association had the Steelers at approximately $5.25 million under the cap entering the day, which is after the five-year, $25 million contract given to free safety Mike Mitchell. The other recent signings moved the needle less than $1 million combined.

Factoring in displacement, the Thomas signing should still leave the Steelers with almost $3.5 million in cap space by the Rule of 51.

That should be more than enough room to get a deal done with Carrington, who according to Ian Rapoport had a good meeting with the Steelers and passed his physical, despite leaving the facility without a contract.

If Rapoport is indeed accurate in his account and that the sides will continue to talk, it should simply be a matter of whether or not they can work out a mutually agreeable value amount for his services.

Hood and Woods seemingly placed themselves out of the range that the Steelers were willing to pay for what they believed they would get in return, which could help explain the apparent lack of effort for Pittsburgh to retain them.

With Woods’ less than 300 career snaps, $2.5 million per season over two years seems to be a bit rich. Meanwhile, it’s been evident all along that Hood was not an ideal scheme fit, but did his best to fit the required mold anyway. At $4 million per season over four years, however, the value wasn’t there.

Carrington, on the other hand, has the ideal size and seeming skills to potentially grow and flourish over time in Pittsburgh’s 3-4 scheme, although that conclusion is a far cry from being a given.

The bottom line is that I don’t believe the obstacle between the Steelers’ ability or inability to sign Carrington comes down to how they can fit his contract into their allotted cap space, as they still have over $4 million available to them before inheriting another $8 million in June. It’s not about the cap; this time, it’s about the cash.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.

  • Jason White

    I wonder how much the Steelers head honchos told him. I mean I wonder if they actually told him they wanted him or if he would be a starter or at least have a chance to start. I am sure if he knows he will be a starter it would be interesting to him rather than go to a team simply as a rotational player.

  • NW86

    Dave, have you factored in Cody Wallace yet? Not that that would change the point of this article – I’m sure he’ll add less than a million to the cap after displacement. I’m just curious, I don’t think I’ve seen those numbers anywhere yet.

  • bonairsfavoriteson

    With Carrington now visiting the Browns where the head coach was his defensive coach last year and the Browns so much better off as far as the cap goes, I think it is doubtful the Steelers get him. Seems like always it is all about the money, and in some cases we just have to big an obstacle to over come. It’s not over till its over but and it is a big but.

  • joed32

    I would think that would come up in the course of their conversation. If I was the player I would ask what my role would be.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    Steelers are being to risky letting guys of need walk out their doors especially of a position where we seem to be lacking a starter.

  • Babybull

    Maybe Ben needs to take pay cut at this rate he will only have one WR left I think JC will be leaving who wants to stay with this mess Colbert an Tomlin are making of this once proud franchise.

  • dkoy85

    Not gonna happen. An extension, yes… but not a pay cut.

  • Joe

    Well… Cotchery does. As he has said a number of times

  • Justin Barlow

    of the numerous need positions, this is the one over all others that is most easily addressed via FA.

    The RB market is thin, the WR market is thin, the LB market has thinned out, and they are likely to go after a CB in the draft no matter what. This deal just flat out needs to get done. It opens up their options tremendously, and theres a low probability that a rookie can come in here and start at DE anyway.

  • Rob H

    The only thing that’s a mess is your post, along with your perception of the team and the people that run it.
    A team that was 2-14 and in need of a total rebuild would be a mess, at team that’s in the last stages of transitioning from the older players of a multiple SB winning team to a younger one that still has a franchise Qb, and finished last season 6-2 is not.

  • Sid

    Jason, all he has to do is look at the Roster. If they sign him, he will start… at least for a year. McClendon would remain at nose and Thomas would rotate in with McClendon. They would have interchangeable parts with Carrington in the pic as well. Apparently he is going to Cleveland… which has a solid 3 man front.. so I would believe he would not be promised a starting slot.

  • grw1960

    For Matthew Marczi. can anyone look at those cap figures on the NFLPA site or is access limited in some way?
    I now see Steelers Depot ( Dave I assume) has recently tweeted $ 3,469,434 under the cap.

  • mlc43

    Are you serious!!!!??? I honestly don’t know if I should take this post seriously. I mean, it’s a joke, right? It has to be a joke. It is just not possible for a person to be so panicky and uniformed. I will give you the benefit of the doubt and just say good one, bro. Lol smh

  • steelster

    Big Ben is a steeler for life and it should be that way until his skillset declines to the point where he can’t help the team win.

  • Matthew Marczi

    With all the new contract values slowly flowing in over the past day, their cap space is actually closer to $3.5 million, but that is still more than enough.

  • Matthew Marczi

    Correct, the adjusted numbers of the recent signings are now verified and have changed the amount. But that is still enough cap space for a potential deal with Carrington.

  • Matthew Marczi

    I don’t think the RB market is that thin, at least not for what the Steelers require.

  • Babybull

    Yes 6-2 at end of season we were still home with 2/14 teams so if that’s good for you then you are getting used to losing I love my steelers but 2 years of 8-8 not getting it done