The Pittsburgh Steelers have found themselves in quite the pickle this off-season. The team is reportedly $14 million over the NFL‘s 2013 salary cap of $121.1 million and this is before signing any player in free agency. What are some of the tough decisions the Steelers might have to make in order to get back under the cap?
The Steelers are in an unfortunate position where they will most likely be unable to re-sign any of their double-digit free agents. This also means the team will not be able to go out into the market and acquire new players to help improve on their 8-8 record from last season. On top of this dreadful news for Steeler nation, the team may also be forced to cut ties with fan favorite veterans in order to preserve money.
Pittsburgh currently sits at $135.31 million and that includes $47.51 million in bonuses alone. The Steelers also have linebackers LaMarr Woodley, James Harrison and Lawrence Timmons on contract for an incredible $163.25 million over several years obviously. Timmons and Woodley could both be asked to restructure their contracts while it is a very real possibility that Harrison will be released in order for the team to save $5.1 million.
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is receiving $102 million over an eight-year span, the largest contract on the team. He will consume $19.59 million of Pittsburgh’s salary cap in 2013, which means the organization may have no choice but to give him another extension. This will help reduce the cap hit for next season but it by no means fixes the overall problem with one swing of the bat.
Other players that will most likely be asked to restructure their contracts are tight end Heath Miller and wide receiver Antonio Brown. The 24-year-old Brown recently stated that he wants to be a member of the Steelers for life, which means he will most likely do what it takes to stick around. Meanwhile, Miller, who is arguably the top offensive weapon for Roethlisberger, may not like the idea of things changing quickly around him but will probably play ball because he wants to remain in Pittsburgh as well.
Obviously, free agents such as Mike Wallace, Rashard Mendenhall, Larry Foote, Casey Hampton and Plaxico Burress are out of the picture. This is a huge blow for a team that struggled to remain competitive with them on the squad. If the Steelers want any chance of competing in the AFC North in 2013 they will have to do so with quality draft picks.
In my opinion, Steelers fans have every right to be angry at what the organization has done. Whoever’s idea it was to put together some of these ridiculous contracts deserves to be fired. I cannot imagine the Rooney family is happy how their money is being spent, especially for a .500 team that misses the playoffs.