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Just How Bad is the Pittsburgh Steelers Salary Cap Situation?

February 17th, 2013 at 9:36 PM
By Mark Mihalko

Over the past month, the major talk around the city has been the Pittsburgh Steelers salary cap and how it will influence this offseason. Some fans wonder if it is that bad. It is! At this point, it appears that the Steelers have $133,498,298 in adjusted salary cap salary on the books moving forward, a number that would place them at nearly $12 million ($11,998,298) over the cap.

'Troy Polamalu on the Tackle' photo (c) 2008, Andy - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/
What makes this even more challenging is the breakdown of salaries of the highest paid Steelers, a list that across the board is short on in-house replacements on the roster.  The top 10 salaries on the team belong to key contributors spanning from quarterback Ben Roethlisbergers’ $19,595,000 cap figure to safety Ryan Clarks’ $4,750,000 salary. In fact, this top 10 list comprises over $100 million ($100,180,166) of the projected $121,500,000 salary cap. What players sit between them in that group? Starters LaMarr Woodley, Lawrence Timmons, Troy Polamalu, James Harrison, Ike Taylor, Heath Miller, Willie Colon and Antonio Brown all sit on that list and all have relatively high base salaries.

At this point Harrison, who carries a $6,570,000 base salary and $10,035,000 cap number has been one of the most talked about potential cuts. Yes, he did not have a great 2012 and is growing older, but one can say the same thing about Woodley, who carries a larger cap number. Yes, he is younger, but Woodley ($9 million base $13,240,00 overall)has been less productive than Harrison over the past two seasons. Now, we at Steelers 101 are not in favor of releasing Woodley, we are just pointing out some basic numbers.

Looking back at those numbers, it is clear that the team will be unable to sustain their competitive nature with the majority of their cap space tied up in 10 players, especially when a large portion of those players are closer to the end of the road of their careers. While it would likely be an unpopular move, it would make sense for the team to part ways with at least Colon, Harrison and Polamalu. In the worst case, all three should be in line for pay cuts, and not renegotiations, with the combined potential savings being $19,570,000 with their release. That idea may sound ludicrous to some, but the reality is if it does not happen this offseason, it will almost certainly happen next offseason. As much as fans hate it, the fact remains that the Steelers must start to rebuild, and they cannot do that with their backs strapped to the salary cap wall.   

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Tags: Antonio Brown, Football, Heath Miller, Ike Taylor, James Harrison, LaMarr Woodley, NFL, Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh Steelers, salary cap, Troy Polamalu, Willie Colon

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