With the start of NFL free agency only two weeks away, teams are making preparations to get their salary caps in order, trim the fat from their rosters and all 32 teams hope to use this time to make their teams better. A big part of getting that salary cap in order is re-structuring veteran contracts. On the surface, what it appears in many cases to be is that players take pay cuts for their teams or are somehow losing money. But in most cases, it’s simply a matter of bookkeeping. Money is shuffled from salary to bonus in order to spare cap room to sign other contracts.
News out of Pittsburgh this week is the Pittsburgh Steelers are doing the salary shuffle in a big way. According to Matt Freed of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, there are several veterans, including quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who could really help the team through the this offseason and end up no less paid in the end.
According to Freed, with re-structures to Rothelisberger, linebacker Lawrence Timmons and linebacker LaMarr Woodley, they could save something in the neighborhood of $15 million in cap space. This would get them under the cap and even give them a little wiggle room to sign a player like wide receiver Steve Breaston with plenty left over. There would still be rookies to consider and so further salary movement could occur with a player like linebacker James Harrison.
There will also be cuts. It’s hard to speculate at this point, but some overpaid, under-achieving Steelers could simply find themselves out of work, further allowing for additional cap space. These are always tricky as contracts often leave dead money on the books. But desperate times call for desperate measures and so some of those sorts of decisions may need to be made.
Regardless of what the particulars are, a few things are certain. The Steelers front office will find a way to get under the cap, they will not be big players in free agency and they will focus their attention to re-building this team via the NFL draft. March 14 can’t get here soon enough.