The Pittsburgh Steelers began the arduous task of getting below the salary cap yesterday, of which they were believed to be approximately $14 million over. As has been the case over the last few years with general manager Kevin Colbert and Omar Khan, the weapon in this fight has been the contract restructure, and this year appears to be no different.
There have been reports over the past few weeks of a “cap hell” scenario in Pittsburgh that would force them to undergo another “March Massacre” like last season, when the team parted ways with veterans Hines Ward, James Farrior, Aaron Smith, Bryant McFadden, and Chris Kemoeatu, among others.
What people may not have realized, however, was just how small an impact many of those players had at their time of being released. Ward, for example, became buried to fifth on the depth chart behind younger players. Farrior was being rotated with Larry Foote, who was re-signed to eventually take over, which he did in 2012. Smith could not stay healthy, making 4 trips to the injured reserve list at the end of his career.
If that is the type of ‘massacre’ that the Steelers may be facing this season, then they do not have much to worry about. They are looking to avoid cuts, however, by restructuring contracts, as mentioned. They have already reworked the contracts of Lawrence Timmons and Antonio Brown, and there are reports that others could be in the works. See what kind of money they saved and who they might target next for restructure in the list.
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The Steelers began restructures with Lawrence Timmons, who was head coach Mike Tomlin’s first draft pick when he took over in 2007. The restructure is believed to have cleared over $5.3 million in salary cap space for 2013.
Next on the agenda was Antonio Brown, whom the Steelers re-signed to a long-term extension after just his second season. His restructure is also expected to have alleviated $3 million in salary cap space, putting the total clearance above $8.
It is also believed that the Steelers are in talks with Ben Roethlisberger to restructure his contract as well. Roethlisbergers’ near $20 million cap hit in 2013 is near the top of the league, and they can save over $7 million with a restructure, which would push them into the black with respect to the salary cap.
Additionally, there are reports that linebacker LaMarr Woodley is also expected to have his contract restructured. The Steelers signed him and Timmons both to long-term contracts a couple seasons ago, with Woodley’s being slightly larger, so they can be expected to save about the same amount of money with Woodley’s deal as with Timmons’.
Should that not prove enough, the Steelers also have the option of reworking Heath Miller’s contract, including signing him to a contract extension that would disperse his cap hit over a period of years. Although he is recovering from an ACL injury, he is regarded as one of the most reliable players in the league. A reworking of the Steelers MVP’s contract may provide enough room to get a deal done with free agent cornerback Keenan Lewis, who is expected to be allowed to test free agency.