Steelers Could Ask Pricey Reserves To Take Pay Cut Or Get Cut

By the time that the Pittsburgh Steelers take the field on Sunday against the Browns, there is a fair chance that they are going to have on their roster a pair of backups who will constitute a base salary this season of at least $2 million on the defensive side of the ball.

The more egregious of the two comes at the outside linebacker position, where the Steelers have rostered five players at the position, with a sixth on the practice squad and a seventh on injured reserve. I’m sure some of you already saw where I was going with this, but perhaps the team should be looking to ask eighth-year veteran Arthur Moats to take a pay cut.

In the final year of a three-year deal, Moats is projected to play by far his least significant role in four total seasons with the Steelers. In fact, there is a reasonable chance that he is a gameday inactive for most of the season, depending on how the rest of the roster breaks.

With T.J. Watt starting on the right side and James Harrison backing him up; with Bud Dupree starting on the left side and Anthony Chickillo backing him up: where are the snaps for Moats? Not that there is anything wrong with him as a player, but there are clear disadvantages to having him on the roster in his role at his current salary.

For one thing, with the numbers coming in from all of the trades and signings that the Steelers made over the course of the past couple of weeks, Pittsburgh is now far closer to their salary cap than many might expect. According to Over the Cap, their latest updated numbers, for example, have their top 51 figure at just $2,811,742 below the cap.

This is a bit of a spoiler alert, but that is not enough. It’s probably just barely enough for what they would like to carry into the regular season for emergencies, and it’s definitely not enough to work out an extension for Stephon Tuitt.

So it’s time for the Steelers to trim some numbers here. They still have to release a player, so one way they might consider doing it is to release the player with the biggest contract who is projected to have the smallest role: Moats and his $2.25 million base salary.

If he is not going to be released outright, then he should take a reduced salary, and if William Gay is going to be demoted to working as a dime back, then I would like the Steelers to consider asking him to reduce his $2 million base salary as well.

I know that Dave Bryan was more optimistic than I was yesterday about the team’s salary cap situation, but if they don’t make some cap-saving cuts or reductions, then it seems to me a restructure is inevitable. That would not be all that bad of a thing, but it is something that seemed rather unlikely to be needed even a month ago.

That is of course if they want to get a deal done with Tuitt. Adding Joe Haden, Vance McDonald, and J.J. Wilcox added more than $8 million, minus displacement, to their salary cap, and their five players on injured reserve do not help.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

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

  • The Sun is Pro-Black

    Cut Golden!

  • RickM

    Moats is far and away the most logical. But I doubt it’ll happen. The guy seems like teflon when one talks about his salary not matching his playing time.

  • An article was just written about how we have no reasonable KR to start the season, you also would have them cut one of the better special teamers we have? What happens then when we give up a big return for a TD? Or have a punt blocked because he wasn’t the punt protector. You can’t cut all of the ST guys…

  • The Sun is Pro-Black

    Our ST’s units are bad even with Golden. I don’t see any drop off.

  • Bradys_Dad

    I could see a couple of restructures whereby the base is reduced and “bonuses” are made available if/when the snap-count is increased or hits a certain level. Granted no one is forced to take a reduction but they do so at their own peril.

  • Some said the same thing about Dri Archer, how could Jacoby Jones be worse? He was worse…

  • JT

    I love everything about Arthur Moats the person. But in no way in that salary reasonable.

  • CountryClub

    As of this morning, the NFLPA still has them with 11 mil of space. My guess is there’s probably an explanation for that. Looking forward to reading what it is.

  • The Sun is Pro-Black

    Not the same. Golden doesn’t have the ball in his hands. I don’t see Golden making that many stops on kick coverage though. Nix would be a bigger loss than him in that regard. I understand they kinda have to keep him around for now, but the sooner he’s gone the better imo. I don’t even want the possibility of him taking anymore defensive snaps with this team.

  • Alan Tman

    How can a player be strong arming the team when they feel they have outplayed their contract, but the team is within their rights to ask for paycuts? You can’t have it both ways.

  • The Sun is Pro-Black

    What?

  • Fred Sandusky

    It so easy to talk about taking someone else’s money. Why should we care if Art Moats makes 2 million in a backup role. Its the Rooney’s money not ours. Live and let live. The Steelers are fine and have plenty of cash. Anyone want to take a pay cut? I doubt it.

  • JT

    And you have to see him NOT being voted ST captain a damning assessment of his future.

  • Michael Conrad

    Let me say one thing about the cap and money and Steelers. Those numbers are numbers the Steelers will tell you what you want to hear about why they did this or that. No team in the NFL has more players they drafted and signed and resigned. They simply have a great handle on it and someone has to be cut to make room for Bell . That person could make around 2 million but they were not cut for the money. The Steelers don’t operate that way they would restructure before taking player X and saying he makes 2 million he is gone.

    Moats makes about 3 million way to much for his role on the team. Do you think it would be good for team moral to ask him to take a pay cut. Maybe restructure

  • The Sun is Pro-Black

    Yea, I guess I’m sort of rushing the inevitable, but if we cut him yesterday it wouldn’t be soon enough.

  • thomas hmmmm

    Good for moral like it was good when they asked the best defender on the team in JH to take a pay cut or get cut?
    They are all adults and I am pretty sure they all understand that it is a business on a budget. They all know that their times are limited in the NFL and know that if a team asks for a pay cut then they only have two options. Take the pay cut and make some money, or get cut and make none.

  • thomas hmmmm

    The ST’s were actually pretty good last season. They were great if you compare them to previous Steelers ST units of the recent past.

  • thomas hmmmm

    Life is full of contradictions. The sooner you get use to that fact, the better off you will be.

  • Joeybaggadonuts

    What are Ben’s numbers against the cap. Perhaps he pulls a Brady and takes one for the team? I believe he has in the past.

  • gdeuce

    you do know that Golden is the upback on the punt unit, right?

  • The players vote, not the coaches. Is it damning of Jordan Berry or Chris Boswell because they weren’t voted captains either? Certainly not.

  • Alan Tman

    Exactly, Colbert said in Carolina on TV that they wouldn’t have made these moves if it would have precluded them from being able to sign their own players.

  • The Sun is Pro-Black

    But was that because of Golden? I highly doubt it.

  • The Sun is Pro-Black

    And?

  • Alan Tman

    He already did. He makes 12 million per.

  • Bruce

    according to the NFLPA the Steelers have 11.07mil of cap space.

  • He’s a part of it, you already lost one special team maven in Vince Williams. You want to cut the other, who does that leave with Nix and DHB as the other standouts on those units? No body.

  • thomas hmmmm

    It’s a unit and each man plays his part. He has experience doing it and has been doing it at a high level for several years. He might not be the one making the tackles but I am pretty sure his presence on the ST unit makes it easier for the other guys to make more of an impact.

  • Is that completely updated? Overthecap had them at a similar number before the flurry of moves last week.

  • Alan Tman

    I find it interesting that people who are everyday ordinary side with billionaire owners. That’s not a contradiction. That’s an example of something else.

  • Todd Hall

    This was reported by Jeremy Fowler of ESPN today “Steelers have $11.07 M in cap space despite several moves last week, according to NFLPA data, which updates daily. The additions of defensive backs Joe Haden and J.J. Wilcox account for $5.541 M in 2017 cap hits on the surface”

  • popsiclesticks

    He never took one for the team – he took a restructure, which any player would have to be insane to not accept.

  • The Sun is Pro-Black

    Hilton? Matakevich? Conner? Chick? Juju? Wilcox? Dangerfield if he’s signed back. There are plenty of possibilities. Golden isn’t the end all be all of anything lol. He can be replaced.

  • popsiclesticks

    He makes $21 per year. That signing bonus isn’t free money.

  • hmmmm, there is a discrepancy somewhere then. I wonder where?

  • The Sun is Pro-Black

    That’s the only advantage he has is his experience, but did he have that experience when he first started? Someone eventually has to take his place just like he took someone else’s. I don’t see him doing anything that can’t be replaced. These are professional football players, with professional coaches.

  • There is no guarantee on Hilton, Conner, JJSS, or even Dangerfield returning. I forgot about Chick and Matakevitch isn’t on that level just yet.

  • TroymanianDevil

    Hey Matt, I think overTheCap has a mistake right now.
    I just added up the top 51 salaries and it’s nowhere near what they say it is (And I did it twice ). Maybe they aren’t doing the top 51 only? who knows. Plus Fowler reported that the Steelers have ~11mil in cap space, which is roughly what I’m getting. Probably some credits/debits and stuff accounting for the difference between me and Fowler’s numbers.

  • Experience and the trust the coaches have in him to play his role above the line.

  • The Sun is Pro-Black

    Nothing is a guarantee, that’s what the coaches are for. To make sure the players are prepared to do their jobs.

  • TroymanianDevil

    They’re not siding with the owners.
    They just want more cap space which means better players which means better team which means more winning ( in general ).
    Plus, the “everyday ordinary” people don’t gain anything extra when that player buys another Ferrari b/c they fought for an extra 1mil/yr in their contract. But they will at least enjoy the team winning more games and possibly championships

  • The Sun is Pro-Black

    I’m fine with him being on ST’s, don’t get me wrong. I just don’t want to see him lining up at safety anymore. I’ve seen enough. I think the benefits of him never playing with this defense again far outweighs the risk of replacing him on ST’s. But that’s just me.

  • Alan Tman

    Cap space doesn’t equal wins in no shape or form. The Steelers are very calculated with all of their moves. See the Colbert interview during the Carolina game. He said none of these moves will have any bearing on signing our own players.

  • Alan Tman

    It only matters how it counts in cap space. 12 million. ☺

  • Sam Clonch

    Getting really nervous about a Tuitt deal. Hoping regular season deadline spurs some action!!

  • TroymanianDevil

    Of course it does. If the Steelers had another $30 mil more in cap space, they could sign another elite defender or two. Or if there was no cap.. see baseball. No one would care about players taking paycuts.
    Yes these moves didn’t impact the cap, I’m never mentioned these moves.

    I’m talking in general why people want players to play for less than the max. Again so they can sign another player or two. Not b/c they’re siding with the owners

  • SteelersDepot

    Still working off of Rule of 51 and don’t believe Wilcox trade has hit as well.The OTC number is a much in line with my numbers

  • H.K. northern cali

    Bye to both.

  • TroymanianDevil

    He can’t be restructured, he’s on the last year of his contract.

    But your point is still valid. I’ll add that he’s also very active in the community as well and represents the Steelers with incredible class. And on the field, I think Moats has earned this year’s salary based on previous years. He should make his full money and then maybe next year, we resign him for the minimum

  • TroymanianDevil

    I believe it’s ~160mil. I posted below, OTC has the top 51 salaries as ~160 mil ( has Wilcox ) and the overall total around ~166mil but they’re using that number instead of the ~160mil for some reason.

  • Alan Tman

    I do see your point though. Especially with the toys.

  • Jeff McNeill

    Sportrac has the team at 3.98 mill under the cap.

  • Boots

    I trust that the team knows what their cap situation is and they will take the steps needed to make sure there’s enough money available for the season. They’ve certainly handles more dire situations.

  • Bruce

    they supposedly update it everyday

  • Anthony Barnes

    We need to clear up cap space so we can resign Tuitt

  • Jeff McNeill

    Bens cap hit is 18.2.

  • Alan Tman

    You are right. I must have been looking at Le’Veon’s.

  • So now when a player fails, it’s only on the coaches? It’s never the player fault?

  • The Sun is Pro-Black

    Didn’t say that

  • Rocksolid20

    Injuries can and will happen . Moats ability to play outside or inside
    is a plus , ( See Bell #1 RB & #2 WR ) . LMAO .

  • RickM

    Brady is always mentioned, but he’s an outlier. And my guess is that there’s some side arrangement where he is being, or will be, compensated in other ways. This is New England we’re talking about. Virtually every top QB in the NFL is paid well and you’re not going to have an Aaron Rodgers, a Matt Ryan, a Drew Brees, etc. accepting less than market value. And that’s understandable.

  • RickM

    Lol, good comparison. I think Moats is a great guy but if you look at his total snaps over his contract and his salary it’s likely pretty amazing what he’s been paid per snap.

    I do laugh. Some fans rightfully argue that players should be paid according to their production when contracts are being negotiated. But when a player isn’t producing, they don’t want a penny of his contract touched. Inconsistent thought process much? As much as football players want all contracts guaranteed it will never happen with 53-man rosters.

  • SteelersDepot

    I have the Steelers at roughly $3,467,109 under the cap right now.

  • John Phillips

    Especially after what’s his name went to Miami

  • Bradys_Dad

    You mean like how can the players utilize the union line when it suits them yet negotiate independent contracts much like a sole proprietor or an independent agent? No doubt the contradictions run rampant in professional sports.

  • RMSteeler

    Is it only roughly because you didn’t calculate down to the penny? jk

  • gdeuce

    do you know what the upback does?

  • The Sun is Pro-Black

    Block?

  • Matthew Marczi

    The NFLPA’s data is not up to date.

  • Matthew Marczi

    Speaking on a completely practical level, the Steelers are going to clear some money between now and Sunday no matter what anybody thinks about the rights of people to make a certain amount of money. If part of their plan includes completing a new contract with Tuitt, and given that they still HAVE to cut a player from the 53-man roster to take Bell off the exempt list, the internal logic here suggests that Moats is the prime candidate. Given the fact that it is necessary for something to happen, then this is a very reasonable something under the circumstances.

  • Matthew Marczi

    The Steelers asked James Harrison to take a pay cut and then they released him when he refused. They also asked Casey Hampton and Ike Taylor to take pay cuts and they accepted to stay on the team for one more year.

  • Matthew Marczi

    It doesn’t preclude them from signing Tuitt, but it does change what they need to do in order to complete the signing.

  • Matthew Marczi

    Injured reserve and practice squad, dead money. The NFLPA numbers (which Fowler cited) are not up to date and not factoring in these expenses.

  • Matthew Marczi

    That’s for damn sure. Like pretty much every year from 2011 to 2016.

  • Boots

    Precisely, sir! Those should make this look like child’s play!!

  • Matthew Marczi

    An August in which the Steelers add a starting quarterback and tight end and a contributing safety is definitely a Madden-like fantasy come reality. A minor restructure for a reliable veteran like Heyward is a small price to pay.

    To be perfectly honest, restructures are really no big deal at all even for the cap. All it really does is borrow from the future, with no interest. If you never use the cap space you gained from the restructure it’s just going to keep carrying over into future years anyway, so really all you’re doing is making future capital available early.

  • Boots

    The FO has definitely made this an August I don’t think I’ll ever forget! In one week they completely changed my outlook on the off-season and I couldn’t be more excited. Actually trying to temper it a bit bc we all should expect a few growing pains the first quarter of the season but these moves were ultimately made for December and January and hopefully The first weekend in February!

  • thomas hmmmm

    Yea they are all professionals. Yet the Steelers up until last year have continuously fielded terrible ST units for the past 20 years or so.. With the exception of AB returning punts and a few other good returners sprinkled in between.

  • The Sun is Pro-Black

    Evidence that is falls back on coaching

  • thomas hmmmm

    I didn’t know my statement was a declaration of what side I chose. Either way the Players have a Union, and not to long ago they went on strike to get a better contract. So whose fault is it that they didn’t fight for guaranteed contracts?
    Also on a side note there was only one team smart enough to vote against the current contract. Which in case you didn’t know the Steelers were that team.
    Although they voted against it because they didn’t want Godell to be Judge, Jury and executioner.

  • TroymanianDevil

    I counted dead money.
    How does practice squad and IR count towards the cap? I thought the rule of 51 still holds precedent in those 2 areas.

  • Zuami Montanez

    Cut golden bring back DANGERR lol

  • Matthew Marczi

    The Rule of 51 should be discarded at this point, since it ends…I’m guessing tomorrow with the first game being played. All money should be accounted for.

  • Michael Mosgrove

    i dont see any price cuts happen. not unless something happens. tuitt’s should be off set by cam’s contract movement.

  • CountryClub

    well today, after the restructures that were done yesterday, they have their space at 13 mil. Seems pretty up to date to me.

  • Matthew Marczi

    It still doesn’t reflect the reality of the situation. It is operating under the Rule of 51, which is irrelevant as of the kickoff of tonight’s game. To be accounted for: roster spots 52 and 53, a 10-man practice squad, 5 players on injured reserve. The bottom line is that the Steelers absolutely do not have $13 million in space space in any practical sense. It’s closer to $7 million.