Time For Steelers’ Offseason To Get Underway After Day Of Formalities

The Pittsburgh Steelers got behind themselves two major hurdles in their offseason strategy yesterday, placing the exclusive franchise tag on four-year veteran running back Le’Veon Bell and completing a four-year extension for perennial All-Pro wide receiver Antonio Brown that will pay him $17 million annually in new money and ties him to the organization through the 2021 season.

The Steelers no doubt quickly realized that they were not going to be able to complete a long-term deal with Bell prior to the deadline to place the franchise tag on players, which is what caused them to take that action now, knowing that it would give them plenty of time to complete a deal later in the offseason.

As for Brown, the Steelers had already made an informal commitment to him that they would get a new deal done with him in the final year of his contract, something that he has waited for patiently—in relative terms—over the course of the past two seasons after he vastly outplayed his then-current deal.

Locking up Brown and tagging Bell secures the team’s primary objectives for the offseason, and their primary focus, which was to keep their offensive triplets intact—even in light of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s retirement talk, though nobody with any inside knowledge is worried that he will actually retire this offseason.

So with that out of the way, and on the final day of February, the Steelers have to themselves a sufficient amount of time to take stock of where they sit heading into free agency and to consider what they hope to accomplish before then, as well as during the free agency period.

General manager Kevin Colbert said that Brown’s contract was at the time the only one that they were working on, despite having very serious interest in keeping some of their impending free agents. Now that his contract is taken care of, the Steelers can turn their focus to a couple of those players and see if they can get something done before they hit the open market in another week and a half or so.

It was reported at one point that the team was in negotiations with 10-year veteran inside linebacker Lawrence Timmons, a notion that was refuted by Colbert’s claim that Brown’s contract was their singular focus. With that out of the way, however, perhaps now the dialogue has begun on the former first-round pick’s situation.

The team will also, of course, have to take inventory not only of their roster for area of need but also of their feasible salary cap in preparation for exploring potential free agents that they may wish to entertain over the course of the next month or so.

Having been able to complete their main objective in February provides the front office a good deal of breathing room, as well as clarity, as they move on to the next phase of the offseason, reassured in the notion that the biggest domino has already fallen.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

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

  • Michael Mosgrove

    we have no room for any free agents.
    big al

    though i would wager that tuitt and deebo are the highest concerns now it looks to me like timmons will be gone unless he comes super cheap.

  • H.K. northern cali

    Any free-agent guys on d. We could sign to free up the draft a little? Cb- rb?

  • Sam Clonch

    TU-ITT! TU-ITT!!!

  • CP72

    I wouldn’t be surprised at all the see them bring in a veteran running. You can usually get them pretty cheap.

  • CP72

    What do you think for Tuitt…5 years 50 million?

  • Sam Clonch

    I could see that. If he goes out and has a pro-bowl season this next year, that would look like a bargain compared to what he’d get as a FA.

  • Sam Clonch

    I’d like to see them keep the people you list, but there’s still some fat you could trim if there’s a good FA out there. Arthur Moats, LJ Fort, Shabazz, plus losing some guys like Shamarko, etc.. there’s a few roster spots that wouldn’t stop them from bringing those guys above back.

  • The Sun is Pro-Black

    Pay him more than heyward? No thank you.

  • Beaver Falls Hosiery

    I see basically a 3 year window for 1-3 rings – believe Ben’s contract is through the 2019 season. I’d keep this roster as intact as possible including Timmons and Deebo for one more year.

  • Nolrog

    The market continues to move up. Cam got his deal in 2015. In 2018, with the salary cap raising some 40 million dollars, guys make more.

  • The Sun is Pro-Black

    Let’s see, in 14 games this year he had 37 tackles and 4 sacks. I understand he’s a valuable piece to us but do you really think that production is worth 10 million a year?

  • Michael Mosgrove

    more about cap room then roster spot.

  • Sam Clonch

    What were Cam’s stats for the season? I think they’re pretty close to the same level. Some could even argue that Tuitt’s going to end up being better.

  • The Sun is Pro-Black

    Well, considering he only played 7 games this year…but you’re, right nearly the same. 21 tackles, 3 sacks.

  • RickM

    Good luck with the Timmons negotiations if they re-open them after talking last off-season. They just gave a receiver $17 Million a year, knowing 80% of his contract will be played in his 30’s. I’m not sure what the team is offering LT and what the soon-to-be 31 Timmons will accept. But in my mind, yesterday made it almost certain Timmons will be off to free agency. We’ll just have to see if he generates interest.

  • Matthew Marczi

    Brown’s cap hit is the same as it was before the deal. What happens with their other pending free agents remains to be seen. If they want to sign somebody, they could make it work.

  • LucasY59

    if he doesnt get a deal done this yr and gets a franchise tag in 2018 instead, it could be closer to 15 mil