With the calendar now flipping over to June, the Pittsburgh Steelers can now put the rest of their offseason plan into action thanks to them having nearly $8 million more in salary cap space with the release of linebacker LaMarr Woodley finally coming off of the books.
Here is a look at several things the Steelers might have on their to-do list between now and the start of the 2014 regular season.
Sign Top Four Draft Picks: Beginning as early as this week, the Steelers can begin signing Martavis Bryant, Dri Archer, Stephon Tuitt and Ryan Shazier. Thanks to the CBA, these deals are already pretty much slotted and pre determined so the dominos should fall quickly. Thanks to top 51 roster displacement, these four contracts should only eat up roughly $1.65 million in cap space.
Contract Extensions: The names that headline the list of players that could possibly have their contracts extended between now and the start of the regular season is not very long, but it’s not likely that all will get done. Here is a brief look at the candidates.
Cortez Allen – While he’s only started 11 games and played just less than 1,350 defensive snaps during his first three years in the league, one would think that Allen is high on the Steelers priority list to get extended during training camp. Thanks to him qualifying for the proven performance escalator, Allen is scheduled to earn a base salary of $1.431 million in 2014, so you can use that as bottom starting point for an average per year that he will want as far as an extension goes. How much is he worth per season as far as an extension goes? $2.5 million? Higher? His number should come in somewhere in that vicinity and it’s hard to see this not getting done at some point.
Maurkice Pouncey – Pouncey is coming off of a severe knee injury and when you combine that with the fact Cleveland Browns center Alex Mack just signed a five year contract worth $42 million, with $18 million fully guaranteed, you can see that the Steelers really have a big decision to make. The Florida product might also decide to bet on himself in 2014 if he feels what the Steelers offer him isn’t fair, so his situation will be a fun one to watch over the course of the next 90 days.
Jason Worilds – I have written quite a bit about Worilds’ situation over the course of the last several months and unless he’s willing to give the Steelers a pretty big discount, the team is likely best served to let him play out his one-year transition tag in order for him to show that he can improve on is 2013 performance. If he plays well, they can simply tag him again next offseason and reboot the process. If he doesn’t, at least they didn’t lock him up long term.
Ben Roethlisberger – Roethlisberger is under contract through the 2015 season, so if the two sides can’t get a new deal done this offseason, they’ll have to try again next offseason. It’s all about average yearly value of new money with Roethlisberger and it’s hard seeing him settle for anything less than $22 million per season when it comes to that. This really could go either way, but it’s starting to look like it won’t happen prior to the start of the 2014 season.
Marcus Gilbert – While he’s worth adding to this list for discussion purposes, it’s hard to make a case for Gilbert getting extended this offseason. In fact, he might be better served betting on himself in 2014 with an eye towards trying to cash in during free agency.
Veteran Additions: Unless there are any surprise cuts around the league next week that strike their fancy, the Steelers could ultimately decide to bring back defensive end Brett Keisel and linebacker James Harrison. Ideally, getting either or both signed to one-year veteran qualifying contracts that come with reduced cap hits would be the way to go. That really lowers the risk involved with each player and provides the team nothing but upside. Like or not, the team really could use the veteran leadership of both players in addition to whatever they can contribute on the field.