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Breaking Down the Pittsburgh Steelers Six Restricted Free Agents

January 17th, 2013 at 9:00 PM
By Mark Mihalko

As the offseason continues, it is clear that Pittsburgh Steelers fans are still in a haze after their team missed the playoffs. Of course, many will be ecstatic once the playoffs are over and the focus on 2013 truly can begin. This is not the case for general manager Kevin Colbert and the front office, which are already busy preparing the game plan to rebuild the Steelers.

'2012-12-09 12.33.53' photo (c) 2012, The Football Juice - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/
Moving forward, one of the first things that the front office must dissect is the direction they intend to go with their free agents. Specifically, how they intend to disperse the tenders to the restricted free agents, to determine exactly how much extra money they must slash to get under the projected salary cap. They can do that now, as the tender amounts were released to the league, showing the minimum increase allowed by the CBA, five percent.

2013 Restricted Free Agent Tender Amounts

First-round tender $2.879 million

Second-round tender $2.023 million

Original round tender $1.323 million

Right of first refusal tender $1.323 million

In total, the Steelers have six restricted free agents to deal with as they enter the free agency period, with the six varying in degrees of importance. Of the group, running back Jonathan Dwyer, nose tackle Steve McClendon and wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders would appear to be at the top of the heap and will garner the higher tender amounts.

Dwyer, the teams leading rusher, should garner at least a second-round tender. Originally a fifth round selection, it would likely another team would target him at the lower original round tender, complicating the running back situation even more. Like Dwyer, McClendon should also receive the second-round tender considering he was an undrafted free agent and the lower valued tenders would not net the Steelers a selection in return if he signs elsewhere. Sanders may provide them a bit of relief, as a third round selection, they could decide do use the original round tender and roll the dice. Looking at the values of the tenders, it may be wise for Colbert to enter into discussions with these three on multi-year contracts, as the tender values would be much higher.  

The other three players may be a bit more of a challenge. Of those, the biggest challenge may be with running back Isaac Redman, who would have to be tendered at the second-round level to net anything in return, as he was another undrafted rookie free agent. Yes, they could do that, but with the salary cap constraints, it is likely they will decide to tender only one of the two running backs with a higher amount. Sure, that could be Redman, and Dwyer would receive an original round offer (fifth round compensation), only time will tell.

At this point, it is unlikely that the team offers linebacker Stevenson Sylvester or punter Jeremy Kapinos anything more than an original round tender. Kapinos, who missed all of 2012 with a back injury, may not be tendered.

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Tags: Emmanuel Sanders, Football, Isaac Redman, Jeremy Kapinos, Jonathan Dwyer, NFL, Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh Steelers, restricted free agent, Steve McClendon, Stevenson Sylvester

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