I was shocked to see the Steelers entered the “lockout week” about $10 million over the salary cap. We never sign big name free agents, we're not flashy, we don't “buy” championships, I doesn't seem right.
Re-signing our own homegrown and drafted
talent is seemingly just as expensive as shopping for UFAs. We develop our own players and when their rookie contracts are up, we re-sign them. It's as simple as that. Sure re-signing Ike Taylor isn't as sexy or flashy as going out and grabbing a high-ticket Free Agent but it's the Steeler Way and 9 times out of 10 it's the right way.
Other teams make big splashes and are talked about on ESPN and NFL Network all off-season while we put our noses to the grindstone and handle our business in a workmanlike/boring manner. It works. It's not exciting in July/August but it's pretty exciting come playoff time when we're consistently winning games.
With that said, there are some guys on the current roster that could lend a helping hand by restructuring their contracts to give the Steelers some room under the cap. We have a few areas that need upgrading and getting more cap space is going to be much needed.
Aaron Smith (no chance he gets cut) — 4.5 million in salary and 6.1 against the salary cap. Love the guy like everyone else but he's always injured, he's old, and he is a team-first player. I see no reason why h
e wouldn't restructure his deal to reduce his cap hit.
LaMarr Woodley (franchise) — OK he doesn't really belong on the list but we need to mention him. As a Franchise-Tagged guy he is slated to rake in $10 million this year. If the team can get him signed to a long-term deal his cap hit will be cut in half. That alone will save the team 3, 4, 5 million dollars on the cap. Signing him to an extension is a no-brainer. Keep in mind that a deal likely won't be struck until August 3rd. Anybody signing a contract now has to sit until August 4th, so by delaying his extension until August 3rd, it allows Woodley to practice with the team between now and then. A little loophole.
Larry Foote (might get cut) —2.4 million salary and 3.0 million cap hit. Stevenson Sylvester makes 400k and seems like he's ready to take your job. A few other young guys also seem capable of taking your spot on the roster. Restructure or hit the road.
Chris Kemoeatu (might get cut) —salary sits at 2.9 million and his cap hit is $4.0 million. Could he really get released? I don't think it's all that likely but what if Legursky and Foster (or some other combo) win the starting jobs? Can't pay a backup OL 4.0 million dollars. Again, it's not likely he gets let go but you kind of get the feeling that the coaching staff is a bit annoyed with his mental errors and dumb penalties.
Arnaz Battle (might get cut) — around 1.0 million in salary with a 1.4 million cap hit. Probably not a guy that would agree to a restructure. Being a special teams “ace” he would prefer to get released and then sign somewhere else. With Ward, Wallace, Sanders, Brown, and maybe Burress on the roster….there is no room for him.