Friday, June 6, 2014

Steelers Sign Shazier, Now Must Sign Roethlisberger Sooner Rather Than Later

by Jason Robinson and Jayden Matthews

"Shazier's 4-year contract with #Steelers is for $9.5 million, $9 million guaranteed including $5.23 M signing bonus" - Ed Bouchette via Twitter (@EdBouchette)

On Thursday, the former Ohio State standout became the sixth of nine Pittsburgh Steelers draft picks to sign a rookie contract, and the first to be signed with the new cap room money freed up from LaMarr Woodley's release. 

The versatile linebacker with blazing speed, or as one scout put it, "He's a blur," can play any of the four linebacker positions in the 3-4 defense and could likely make an immediate impact for the Steelers.

In college, Shazier played in 39 games at weak-side outside linebacker as well as inside. He totaled 316 tackles, including 101 tackles in 2013 when he was a first-team All-American, 14 sacks, 44 1/2 tackles for a loss, nine quarterback pressures and nine forced fumbles. 

Considering those numbers and his skill set, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Mark Kaboly from his Twitter (@MarkKaboly_Trib) account, "The Steelers are going to use Ryan Shazier in sub packages to rush from the outside. Not exclusively, but there will be a package for that."

Speaking of prodigious numbers and skill sets, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger brings his gaudy career numbers back to OTAs with an, as was put by the NFL Network's Aditi Kinkhabwala, "awfully instructive" and an excited demeanor, but without a contract extension. - 

The news that Big Ben has risen to a new level of leadership is the best news to come out of OTAs. Shouldn't that be rewarded or at least acknowledged by the front office? 

Big Ben has said many times that he doesn't get involved with the business side of things, that he just wants to worry about football. But that doesn't mean he isn't aware of what's going on around him. 

In the midst of those post-OTA interview questions, he congratulated San Francisco 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick on his six-year, $126 million contract. The real numbers, however, being just a two years for $28 million and "only $13M guaranteed." After year, however, it starts to turn in Kaepernick's favor. -

Some believe Big Ben is headed for a franchise tag that will earn him in excess of $19 million. His Salary Cap hit is set to be $18.895 million this season and $18.395 million in 2015. The Steelers should want to avoid this Cap hit and make sure Big Ben ends his career in Black and Gold. 

It's a process which only gets harder the longer they wait. Not only because of Kaepernick's deal, but because of what's to come. -

“Word around NFL is that when Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson get new deals next year, they will come in between $24-$25 million per year.” - Adam Schefter via Twitter (@AdamSchefter)

There is definitely a way to avoid this, however. If It Ain't Steel has actually covered it before, and it came hard upon the New England Patriot's Tom Brady's contract extension. 

"Rip up his current contract and redo it overall, which in effect turns his old agreement into a new one, and of course extend him....The New England Patriots did that very thing with Tom Brady, doing away with his old contract and its liabilities and most of his salary was paid as a bonus which doesn't count against the Cap. -

"In doing this the Steelers would not only save money but it would also allow them two years to clear up other money issues, freeing up money under the cap allowing them to re-sign their free agents and possibly sign other players....He is all about the team and will do what is needed to help the team. -

"The only drawback is the possibility of a per year salary being around $20 million." At the same time, though, the Cap numbers would be lower, which is the main objective here after all. 

That and to keep one of the best QBs in the NFL "excited." 


TIDBITS: Antonio Brown's 1,499 yards receiving in 2013 were by far the most in NFL history for a sixth-round draft pick.


OLB Jason Worilds has missed five of the first six OTA practices because of a calf injury. He has been running and riding the stationary bike.


“@jimwexell: Don't buy this nonsense about the #Steelers' no-huddle looking like all that. It was awful Wednesday, as it should in June.”


Sean Spence participating in Steelers offseason workouts