Thursday, February 20, 2014

NFL Salary Cap Increase Greatly Benefits Steelers

As Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert has said in his media tour this week as prepares for the NFL Combine, the Pittsburgh Steelers have tough "decisions to make" to be able to comply with NFL Salary Cap rules.

“We have some decisions to make,” Colbert said. “We have some cap issues, but it’s not overwhelming. We have got to go through the whole process and make the best decisions we can. There are so many moving parts. This will continue up to the free agency March 11 deadline and beyond."

That sound you hear is the collective sigh of relief from countless on the South Side as the things just got a little easier Thursday. 
 
Per league sources, the "NFL will raise its Salary Cap to about $130 million." - http://tinyurl.com/py8mk3t

The news of the NFL's increase in its Cap greatly benefits the Steelers, along with a handful of other teams that have moves to make by the start of the new NFL year on March 11.

When I spoke with Capologist Ian Whetstone of Steel City Insider and IanWhetstone.com a little over a month ago on Twitter about the Steelers Cap situation, he let me know where the team stands as far as their Salary Cap, with respect to the Rule of 51 and dead money, is concerned.

@IanWhetstone: @SteelerJsun I have them at $135,572,583 in top 51 contracts plus $4,552,933 in dead money. Here's a breakdown: https://pitt.box.com/s/q75myyihriwumrcgk5ry

That now means that the Steelers are less than $6 million over the Cap as far as the Rule of 51 (top 51 current contracts) is concerned. Add the dead money in and they have roughly $10.1 million to trim. A lot better than the approximate $13.5 million thought to be needed to shave when the Cap was expected to be around $126.6 million.

One swipe and Levi Brown, acquired from the Arizona Cardinals for a conditional 2014 draft choice in Week 5 this season (which was nullified by the fact he didn't suit up for any games, thus allowing the Steelers to keep their draft pick) will be cut creating $6.25 million of cap room. 

Immediate Cap compliance. 

Then the Steelers could restructure the contracts of a couple of player, say wide receiver Antonio Brown and maybe inside linebacker Lawrence Timmons. That will free up over $7 million in cap space combined (i.e. converting most of their 2014 salaries, except for their league minimums, into signing bonuses).

Cap compliant, plus at least a couple of million.

Then, add to that the other inevitable releases (Brett Keisel), an extension or two (Ben Roethlisberger and/or Troy Polamalu), and a possible pay cut (Ike Taylor), as well as the small amount not used last season that will carry over, and the Steelers suddenly have quite a bit to spend. Then, once they decide what to do with LaMarr Woodley, that amount could change yet again. Stay tuned.