A June Cap Boom for Steelers

By Ed Bouchette
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 1 year ago

Good morning,

Today is Christmas in June for the Steelers, who already knew they would receive a gift in the form of $8 million in salary cap relief from their release of LaMarr Woodley in March.

That room represents the $8 million salary Woodley was scheduled to earn in 2014 that is now wiped off the books. He will still count against their 2015 cap, but that’s their worry for another time.

Since the cap counts only the top 51 contracts on their 90-man roster during the off-season, Woodley’s removal means the next salary up, and that would be in the form of a $495,000 salary for a first-year player, if I count my top 51 correctly.

So, in essence, the Steelers have $7.5 million more in salary cap room today than they did on Friday when, according to NFL Players Association figures, they had only $194,584. If that is correct, then the Steelers should have about $7.7 million in salary cap space today.

They still have their top four rookie draft choices to sign, so that will be whittled to about $6 million once that’s done.

Some of that room will be used on Maurkice Pouncey, who I believe they will try to sign to an extension before the regular season, the last on his rookie contract.

There is the elephant in the room, the contract of Ben Roethlisberger. Traditionally, they have signed their starting quarterbacks to extensions when they have two years left on their current deals. We will see if they make any moves there.

They really do not have many players who are screaming to be signed to extensions. Cortez Allen might be one. They could sign him now and avert another Keenan Lewis situation if they believe Allen is worth it – provided he can come to terms. You think they have problems at corner now, imagine what it will be like next year if they lose Allen and Ike Taylor retires.

As their starting right tackle, Marcus Gilbert should get a look, but what do they pay him right now and what might he be willing to accept? Here is a little-used fact about Gilbert: He has started all but one game in which he has played for them since his rookie season in 2011. He started 13 games at tackle as a rookie and then the first five games of 2012 at right tackle before his season was cut short because of an ankle injury. He started all 16 games last season at right tackle.

Kicker Shaun Suisham is another they might look at signing to an extension because he enters the final year of his contract.

On to some stuff:

--- Brett Keisel remains a free agent and it makes just too much sense for him not to rejoin the Steelers. He might be with them now if it weren’t for his balking at taking the minimum money. But as a top-tiered veteran, Keisel’s minimum would be $1 million. He probably also would not have to play as many snaps as they rotate rookie Stephon Tuitt at defensive end. The Steelers remain interested in Keisel for a contract that would included a $955,000 salary plus a $65,000 signing bonus but would count only $635,000 against their cap in 2014 because of the veteran minimum salary benefit rule in the CBA.

--- We were wrong about rookie Dri Archer skipping spring practices last week in order to appear at the NFL Players Association Rookie Premier. He was required to attend because he was chosen to attend, per league rules. It may be a stupid rule that keeps a rookie away from his team for his first few practices with his new veteran teammates while others are getting a leg up, but that’s the rule. So, in reality, the practices were not voluntary for Archer last week because it was mandated he stay away. It is nearly as dumb as the rule that prevents rookie linebacker Jordan Zumwalt from practicing with his teammates because UCLA’s spring classes have not yet ended. Archer should be ready to go when OTAs resume Tuesday in Pittsburgh.

--- A couple of college professors have concluded after extensive study that first-round draft picks are overrated.

--- A handful of short queries for Ask Ed:

--- YOU: I wanted to ask you if there was any progress on a potential Big Ben extension

ED: They have not begun negotiations with Ben Roethlisberger’s agents on a new contract.

--- YOU: Any truth to the rumor that, in exchange for adding playoff games the NFLPA wants NO contact practices preseason?

ED: Trouble is, I do not know whether your question is serious or not.

--- YOU: Honest question. How many Derek Moye questions do you receive in an average week?

If Derek Moye attended Missouri or Northwestern, would anyone around here even know who he is?

ED: Not as many as we used to receive on Limas Sweed and we now get about whether the Steelers will sign Santonio Holmes.

--- YOU: Do you buy Cornell Lake’s optimism on the depth of the CB’s based on post draft reporting Justin Gilbert was their first choice in round one of the draft?

ED: No.

--- YOU: What are your thoughts on taking a part-time player in the 3rd round

ED: It’s better than taking a punter or a third-string quarterback in the fourth round.