While the Pittsburgh Steelers ultimately failed to sign running back Le’Veon Bell to a long-term contract extension prior to Monday’s deadline, the team is still likely to get new deals done with at least one other player and quite possibly even more prior to them traveling to Cleveland for their regular season opener.
With no new deal being consummated with Bell, the Steelers still have plenty of salary cap space to work with even though the running back will count $12.12 million against it. While the NFLPA currently has the Steelers with $16,175,763 in available salary cap space as of Monday morning, the actual available amount the team has to spend is much lower than that number being as they still need to account for things such as a 52nd and 53rd player on their final roster in addition to a 10-man practice squad and a roughly $3 million reserve amount to use in case of injuries.
Those forthcoming accounting expenditures and others aside, the Steelers still should have plenty of salary cap space needed to sign defensive end Stephon Tuitt to a new lucrative long-term contract extension prior to the start of the regular season. It would be a huge surprise if that ultimately doesn’t happen being as Tuitt is now in the final year of his rookie contract. A new deal for Tuitt could ultimately look similar to the one fellow Steelers defensive end Cameron Heyward signed a few years ago and especially when it comes to average yearly salary.
Another player who could sign a contract extension prior to the team traveling to Cleveland is tackle Alejandro Villanueva, who is currently set to earn $615,000 in 2017 after being issued an exclusive rights tender ahead of the start of the 2017 league year. Villanueva’s situation is very different than Tuitt’s when it comes to leverage, however, because the Steelers can easily retain the former undrafted free agent after the 2017 season is over with a second-round restricted tender. In short, his average yearly value ceiling for a new contract this offseason could ultimately be right around $6 million, which is what fellow Steelers tackle Marcus Gilbert currently earns. That amount, however, would still result in him being one of the league’s lowest paid starting left tackles.