Steelers Offer Little Guarantees To Their Incoming Free Agents

In stark contrast to recent offseasons, the Pittsburgh Steelers have already handed out new contracts to seven different free agents coming from other teams over the course of the past month since the start of free agency.

In the process, they have handed out close to $40 million, with only Mike Mitchell’s contract extending beyond the 2015 season. That contract also made up the vast majority of that nearly $40 million total, coming in at $25 million over five seasons.

One way that they managed to hand out all that money—in addition to their many re-signings, most notably the nearly $10 million committed to Jason Worilds—is because those contracts include comparatively little guaranteed money.

Mitchell’s contract, for example, totaled just $5.25 million in guarantees over the life of the five-year contract.

Given the questions of consistency that surround him considering that he’s coming off just one solid season with the Carolina Panthers, it gives the Steelers the opportunity to opt out with little damage done should Mitchell underperform before the contract’s base salary values top out in the later years.

After losing both Ziggy Hood and Al Woods, the Steelers sought help along the defensive line by adding Cam Thomas on a two-year, $4 million contract, with a $1 million signing bonus as a guarantee.

Lance Moore’s two-year, $3 million contract only included a guaranteed value of $645,000, while LeGarrette Blount’s two-year deal worth close to $4 million came with just under $1 million in guarantees.

Of the other three contracts the Steelers reached with outside veteran free agents, all were veteran-minimum qualifying contracts with cash values of $730,000.

Each of those contracts came with a signing bonus of $65,000, assuming that is the case with the Darrius Heyward-Bey deal. Thus, the total guarantees of the three combined come to just $195,000.

All told, assuming the aforementioned contract values, the Steelers have committed just $8,040,000 to their seven signings this offseason in guarantees.

Yet the seven contracts that they handed out to these free agents, assuming they all reach their maximum values, total $38,040,000.

With little more than 20 percent of the total values of those signings actually being guaranteed, the Steelers have put themselves in a position of being able to minimize the damage should any of those contracts not pan out for whatever reason. Given their cap issues, that was certainly a point of focus in their contract workings this offseason.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi
Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.
  • dkoy85

    They did a mighty good job.

  • Kurt Williams


  • srdan

    Very wise. Took a scalpel to the roster, not a chainsaw.

    I like it!

  • awlcohen

    They are able to do this because most of these guys aren’t any good.
    Is this team really better than they were in 2013 on paper? And that wasn’t a very good team.

  • steeltown


  • srdan

    I’m not a fan of talking about football on paper, but since you brought it up….

    Last year we started two rookies on defense. Besides that, we had an emergence of some young players (cam and 93) as leaders and borderline probowl players in their first year as full time starters. That is an infusion of 4 players into an aging defense. This year we signed maybe the fastest free safety in the game, with an arrow pointing up by all accounts. All this before the draft.

    On offense IMO it was addition by subtraction. Wheaton is penciled in as a starter. We lost two guys Manny (who i liked more than most) and cotchery (who I was indifferent about). We signed two receivers that are “lesser”. But Wheaton evens that out if you ask me. Please don’t overlook the Munchak signing. Oh, and Blount over whomever we had backing up bell last year is a big upgrade. We lacked a power running game for the last decade it seems like. With the Munchak and Blount signing, I think you will see more of it. Don’t forget that we get our pro bowl center back.

    And now we draft…in one of the deepest drafts recently.

  • steeltown

    The only area that we didn’t really improve is the DL, which will be accounted for in the draft, not to mention the young 2nd yr DE projects we currently have on roster. We didn’t really touch the CB position in regards to adding talent, but it’s clear that it will be the focus in the upcoming draft.

  • steeltown

    Also, I don’t see why Moore gets so much grief, he might end up being a really solid player for us.. I know the players and fans in New Orleans didn’t like his departure

  • cencalsteeler

    I mentioned last week Moore has big shoes to fill replacing a fan favorite in Cotchery. Fans will have high expectations of him and if he doesn’t put up high numbers, I fear the fans will be calling for his head. It’s a similar scenario as to when the time comes for someone to replace Ben,…..hard shoes to fill. Cotch put up nice numbers last year and people have a tendency to remember the most recent. I’m with you, I like the Moore signing, I just hope everyone is patient with him.

  • tfoden

    srdan, that is a lot of optimism in one post. I would consider a borderline probowl player as one who would be the next alternate if the original probowl player cannot play. I don’t think we had any of those that were first year full time starters. Although I’m happy with the Mitchel signing, he has had only one good year out of five and at that it was with a strong defensive unit. I don’t know what Wheaton has done to prove he will will strengthen the receiving corp other than he had a nice training camp. We will get our “probowl” center back but history suggests there will be another player who goes on injured reserve for the season. I am excited about the Munchak and Blount signings. Let’s hope for a draft class that can contribute this year, but were are going to need some luck for all of your scenarios to come true.

  • steeltown

    Yea agreed.. and I previously mentioned how ironic it all is because before last season a lot of fans didn’t even want Cotch on the Team. I’m a huge fan of Jerricho and have been since we signed him, but even I can understand the business side of things and look forward to the future with a really solid player in Moore

  • srdan

    You are right. That post reflects my personality.

    The truth is somewhere between your post and mine.

  • disqus_6wLDLEg5Ai

    Matt has does hitting incentives in contracts affect the salary cap?

  • John

    Lance Moore is good. DHB is an NFL receiver that looked decent with Oakland in 2012. I have no idea what happened in Indy last year, but they wanted him to be a No. 2 receiver at least. We need him only to be No. 4. Blount is a real NFL back with upside. The O-Line appears to have answered the many, many questions from last year. On D, except for losing Woods, we seem better off than last year across the board. We need some depth at DL and LB and one additional cover guy at CB. Maybe a better NT at some point. Otherwise, with the recent signings, we appear to be moving forward. We are not worse than last year — the only question is whether we are significantly better. Mitchell, Spence, V. Williams, Jones, et al. will be a big part in determining that. Hopefully, Jones is not a bust, Mitchell can play, and we can draft another CB that can play. Oh, and if Shamarko could play, that would be nice as well.

  • Matthew Marczi

    Any performance-based incentives put into contracts, if reached during a season, affect the following year’s cap.

  • RyanW

    Colbert and company have earned their keep this offseason so far. Hope the draft solidifies it.