Steelers Can Now Turn Focus To Possible New Deals For Tuitt, Villanueva

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.

  • alevin16

    I am sensing an Antonio Brown/Mike Wallace situation (Bell being Wallace). The others do well and Bell, years later, wishes he stayed on the Steelers.

  • StarSpangledSteeler

    I’m sure I don’t need to suggest this to Dave Bryan (as he is probably already writing the article as we speak) but perhaps you might post a thread on what potential contracts might look like (that give extensions to both Tuitt AND Villanueva) this year?

  • BigAl

    How can they “focus on other deals”? Once you account for the tag, how much cap room is left?

  • Flip Fisher

    Wallace had 1k yards last season and makes 8 million this year. I think he is happy to be where he is at.

  • nutty32

    Big Al will be a top 10 paid Tackle or close to it after its all said and done. Tuitt will be harder to sign as his skill set is valued higher by a lot of teams more than the steelers, hence asking for a bigger home discount.

  • pittsburghjoe

    Great thought…. Invest in these other studs, go get a new RB in the draft. You can always franchise LB again next year. At least its an option. Bell is officially a rented mule in my book. Run him hard and often.

  • Jeff Papiernik

    (Re-posting this from last article) My prediction: Bell is tagged next year as well and then walks the year after in free agency. Martavis will also be leaving that year via free agency. Ben will see the writing on the wall and retire the year Bell and Martavis depart which is also the year Harrison’s 2 year contract is up and he will retire as well. That means we will lose Ben, Bell, Martavis, and Harrison in the same year. The Super Bowl window has been set ladies and gentlemen. 2 years.

  • Ravens Team Gynecologist

    Sustained pressure up front is something this defense could really use. I am really hoping they get him locked up this offseason.

  • nutty32

    Ben is the only indispensable piece. So long as he doesn’t retire or start sucking the team will by-in-large be in contention.

  • pittsburghjoe

    I think there is a good chance of that happening. It makes sense too in alot of ways. After 2 years of running him like a rented mule, there wont be much left.

  • dennisdoubleday

    If Villy can get a 5 year $30M deal, he should sign it now and laugh to the bank. If he goes FA in two years and signs for $10M/year, it will still come out around the same money for the next 5 years, and he gets it sooner, especially if he gets a good signing bonus.

  • SfSteeler

    if you dont show up to the dinner table, the other kids are gonna eat your supper….Bud, VW, and MB, if he has his glasses on to see this all right in front of him…

  • Lee Foo Young

    If we sign those two long term, this might be a blessing in disguise?

  • dany

    Without Bell, can even add another extension right? Like Cockrell perhaps

  • dany

    Pretty much what we all thought but yeah that’s confirmation now. Unless JuJu Coates Conner and Jesse plus next year’s possible draft picks suddenly explode, Ben has no reason to stay with only AB after 2018, even without possibly the best line in the league

  • Brian Miller

    I don’t think he ever cared about anything more than the money anyway….you are probably right.

  • falconsaftey43

    Read the article again, it is clearly stated. $16.17M. that includes the tag already.

  • Marcel Chris Chauvet

    Lol

  • falconsaftey43

    Bell’s cap hit would have likely gone down a little with a long term deal. Don’t think there is much impact.

  • falconsaftey43

    Wallace has made something like $42M. I don’t think he is too upset.

  • Marcel Chris Chauvet

    Mike Wallace turning that money down was the greatest blessing in modern Steelers history. Had he not, AB would be playing elsewhere. I hope that this is exactly like that.

  • John Pennington

    Sign the other players to get them in the fold and worry about Bell next season in the meantime the scouts better do a good job scouting rb this up coming season.

  • LucasY59

    I think it will be smart for the Steelers to get these deals done,

    the Open Market Values for those positions is getting crazy

    some examples for Tuitt: Calais Campbell got 15 mil (as a 30yo) and a franchise tag would cost more than this yr which was 13.387 for a DT and 16.934 for a DE if they needed to tag him because they didnt get a deal worked out this yr, so getting him to sign for anything close to what they signed Heyward for 2 yrs ago would probably be a deal, and they might have to add another mil or 2/yr, so my guestimate for a deal could be something like 5yrs 55mil (which adds a little less than 54 in new $)

    and for OT (specifically LT) the deals can get kinda scary as well (especially since some of the guys getting $$$ arent that good) Eric Fischer, Russel Okung, Matt Kalil and Riley Reiff are getting 11+ and so is 35yo Andrew Witworth, the franchise tag isnt something they have to worry about with AV next yr, but it was 14.271 this yr so another big # to look at, I think a deal similar to Gilbert’s would be great for the team (and is a big raise over the 615k he would make on the ERFA tender this yr) but I think they might need to pay him a bit more as well (looking at 2+ yr old NFL contracts is kinda like comparing a iPhone 7 or 8? to a iPhone 4 or somethin like that) I think there is a realistic chance the deal could be closer to 8 mil per yr (but wont be anymore that that) so I am guestimating in the 6-8 range, 4 yr deal 30mil (which is also close to 30 mil in new $)

  • LucasY59

    Bell still costs 12 mil against the cap this yr, him not getting an extension does not help them get more deals done…him getting a extension mightve lowered that cap hit a little which could help get an additional deal, but other than the 2 mentioned there arent any deals likely to get done (regardless of the Bell situation)

    in the future not paying Bell will free up some $ to spend on other players, but no idea what that situation will look like until next offseason

  • LucasY59

    these deals were likely to get done anyway (Bell was just ahead of them in priority because of the deadline)

  • LucasY59

    that is the same deal I am guessing they will sign AV to, I think it benefits both sides, Al doesnt have to wait 2 yrs to get paid, and the Steelers get a Starting LT for almost 5 million less than it costs to get one on the open market

  • blackandgoldBullion

    Just Ben leaving allows a huge savings which would be enough to pick up a couple of studs at other positions. If the O line is still good and you have a running game it could get terribly interesting. The D might be Top 5 or 10 by then.

    The next QB might not need to be a stud. Fascinating!

  • LucasY59

    2019 is also a yr where Mitchell, Foster, Golden, Gay, Alualu, Sensabaugh, Hey-Bey, Landry and Vince have expiring contracts (some might be gone before then?) so It could get real interesting in 2 seasons, will definitely have a young team after some of those Vets retire

  • Shane Mitchell

    Why would it be a huge surprise not to extend Tuitt early? No way in hell does he deserve a 10 million dollar a year contract extension right now. People need to take their homer glasses off and look at reality.

    How much is 4 sacks, 18 QB pressures and leading the league in missed tackles at his position worth? Its not like we are playing base 3-4 that much anymore, and he isnt a great pass rusher, Hargrave is a better pass rusher than Tuitt in nickel package.

  • LucasY59

    look at the market, guys are getting even more than 10

  • Jeff Papiernik

    No offense to those guys you listed, but I don’t consider them difference makers the way those other guys I mentioned are…..maybe Foster but that’s about it.

  • Marcel Chris Chauvet

    If Tuitt accepts anything close to Hayward’s deal, they should ink that thing immediately and then thank the good Lord. I still like Villy at 4 years for $30M.

  • Shane Mitchell

    He isnt worth more than Heyward at the moment, he has to prove himself this season, otherwise I would let him walk.

  • Marcel Chris Chauvet

    Hargrave is also a natural 3-technique whom we are playing as a shaded Nose. He is most likely always gonna be a better pass rusher than Tuitt.

  • falconsaftey43

    Well they aren’t tagging him after this season (will be like $17M), so if no extension now, he’s hitting FA. For reference, Heyward had 15 sacks and 93 tackles in 128 games when he signed. Tuitt has 11.5 sacks, 80 tackles in 44 games. (Obviously Heyward was a sparsely used backup for 1st 2 years.) Tuitt did lead the team in pressures last year. He’ll only be 24 to start the season.

  • Shane Mitchell

    I dont think its a good comparison for a couple of reasons, number one we are different defense now, and there was little to no doubt about Heyward when they extended him, Tuitt there is doubt. They cant pay everyone 10-12 mill a year. His value isnt as high.

  • falconsaftey43

    I don’t have much doubt about Tuitt. He needs to continue no I to get better, but his 2015 season was legit. 2016 wasn’t quite as good, but still up there. I don’t know where his true value is, but around 9-10 would seem to be right.

    Unfortunately, sometimes you have to pay guys before you’re 100% sure. They made Gilbert the highest paid RT before he’d really proved worth, that worked out. They paid Cortez Allen based on his early flashes, and it didn’t work out. Sometimes you have to take risks.

  • Shane Mitchell

    Thats why you dont over pay for average production at the position, the Steelers can draft another young Dlineman early and get 4 sacks and 18 QB pressures out of a rookie.

  • nutty32

    That’s not how contracts work. There’s always inflation except for running backs currently undergoing market correction. Zero chance Tuitt gets less than Cam.

  • Shane Mitchell

    He isnt on Heyward’s level, people are acting like he is just as good as Heyward thats false.

  • Shane Mitchell

    So let me get this straight, fans think Tuitt deserves a contract extension right now that would likely be more than they offered Bell?

  • Shane Mitchell

    I expect a new contract for Villanueva before camp not Tuitt unless he signs for much less than Heyward’s contract. When the Steelers gave Heyward that contract they clearly viewed him as one of the best dlineman in the NFL, if they value Tuitt just as much right now than they are insane, Hargrave deserves more snaps at Tuitt’s expense in sub package.

  • LucasY59

    not saying they are difference makers just that there could be a lot of change in 2 yrs

  • Robert E Lil

    Mr. Mitchell:
    I read your comments and well, they make far too much sense. I am continually amazed by the homer glasses you speak of.

  • Steve

    Sounds like Bell only cares about the money. Seems like when we needed him, he was hurt or suspended.

  • Steve

    Conners no slouch and ready to be our RB.

  • Steve

    Seems like Mike has played for a different team every year. Was even traded from the Dolphins to the Vikings for a 5th round pick. That’s not saying much for his value.

  • Steve

    Ben cried a few years ago when Starks and Arians left. Football life goes on.

  • Steve

    AV will be 29 this year. Do you really think he can last 5 more years?

  • Steve

    Why Cockrell? He’s going to have trouble making 53 this year.

  • falconsaftey43

    We’re do you put his worth at currently?

  • Steve

    Why?? Just drafted Conner.

  • Steve

    Steelers got Hawkins waiting in the wings. Was hurt all last year as a Rookie.

  • Steve

    Tuitt takes too many plays off, when Hargave brings his game every play.

  • T3xassteelers

    This is sad… Please don’t happen haha. I could unfortunately see it happening this way though.

  • falconsaftey43

    No he isn’t. He’ll start this year. There is zero chance they cut him. Zero.

  • Steve

    Last year Heyward was out half the year, so that is really not a good comparison.

  • falconsaftey43

    Probably a good chance. He started his career late. There were 24 OL to start at age 34 or older over last 5 years (min 12 games).

  • falconsaftey43

    Those are stats from his first 4 seasons, what he did prior to getting his long term deal.

  • Steve

    Start,,, for who? The guy give us very little in run defence. If he makes the team, it will be on the bench by mid season.

  • dany

    True, but he wasn’t 35 and on a “year to year basis” then

  • Steve

    Started his career after 3 tours as a Army Ranger in Afgan. Them tours took their tool on him. There is no way Villy last 5 more years with the Steelers.

  • dany

    lol sure man!

  • Beaver Falls Hosiery

    Agree – but they need to play as if 2017 is the window. No telling what will happen in 2018.

  • Steve

    Ben has been year to year the last 2 years. He just can’t turn the money down. Will admit, Ben had a very good year in 2016.

  • Shane Mitchell

    His team value is much less than his market value at the moment because he under performed last season and Hargrave emerged as a better pass rusher than Tuitt towards the end of the year. So I have no value for him at all at the moment because I dont want to extend him right now for anything close to market value. If we were running a lot our old base 3-4 defense sure I would look to sign him early, we arent, they need to get pressure inside rushing 4, if you give him a 10-12 mill a year contract you are saying you are happy with your inside pass rush or lack there of for years to come.

  • dany

    Well if he was year to year last year you know him better than most of us cause the first time he’s said anything about that was April of this year

  • nutty32

    Ugh, Cortez Allen. Colbert blew that one big time.

  • blue

    Tuitt and Marty Bryant are the top priorities for next season after L Bell. AV can walk if he don’t want fair contract.

  • Gautama Om

    And how do we know Connor or any other RB drafted can’t be the torchbearer. I mean you don’t have to be top 3 RB ya know; if we find a top 10 RB is plenty sufficient.

    For all we know, Juju may be the next Hines Ward or better in 2 years.

    Harrison won be missed as much because his production should be at the bottom by then and TJ Watt (in 2 years) might be a versatile 10 sack OLB who will be more than capable than old man Deebo.

    The only thing that really matters is Ben; if we can win 1 SB and keep it very close the other year then Ben may be tempted to come back for a 3rd or 4th year.

    One thing is certain is things will change and it’s not always going to be what everyone assumes to be worse. That’s not just in football but everything in life.

    There’s too many factors like with unknown up and comers , free agents , new draftees, injuries, surprises like say Dobbs being find like Dak Prescott. Now i’m not predicting that but you get the idea; don’t predict or assume.

  • Sam Clonch

    Tuitt should be done this season. Focus next off-season will be Shazier.

  • kamil

    Wow yall really think low of tuitt..

  • blue

    Shazier is under contract next year, Marty B is unrestricted FA.

  • Sam Clonch

    At worst Bryant will be a RFA, most think that his contract is going to be docked do he’ll actually be playing under the last year of his rookie deal. So he’s under contract.

    And Steelers like to extend their players when they have 1 year left, which will be Shazier next year.

  • Gautama Om

    If he leaves next year, there’s no question Bell is not going to do as well if he had stayed. There’s just too many things going against his way that we’ve all mentioned already and not mentioned like is wherever he should leave us for might have a terrible OL thus he might be cut due to less than expected performance…on top of that he has set up goals (pay wise) that are near impossible to match.

    Mark my words: he can only lose or rather be compensated less than what he would have gotten had he remained a Steeler.

  • mezzetin1

    Uh.. No.

  • mezzetin1

    See my last comment.

  • mezzetin1

    Allen did.

  • mezzetin1

    Puh-lease…

  • mezzetin1

    Heyward. Alright?

  • mezzetin1

    Right?