Monday (correction that deadline is the 13th, not today) the deadline for restricted tenders to be issued around the league and while several eyes will be fixed on wide receiver Mike Wallace, and his expected first round tender, the Steelers two undrafted guards, Doug Legursky and Ramon Foster, will also be an interesting tender decision to watch as well.
As Ed Bouchette pointed out on Saturday, with the cap room that the Steelers have right now, they could now decide to place second round tenders of $1.927 million on both Legursky and Foster instead of right of first refusal tenders on them to virtually guarantee that no other team will sign them to an offer sheet. Both were undrafted players so there would be no draft pick compensation if both are tendered at the low original round projected level of $1.26 million.
Now keep in mind that the Steelers Rule of 51 number before any of the restricted tenders are handed out is about $111 million and a first round tender on Wallace would cost approximately $2.742 million. That leaves roughly $7 million in tender room, based on a 2012 cap number of $120 million, to tender the other 5 restricted free agents we expect to receive tenders. My current Rule of 51 number projection with those 5 free agents being tendered at the original round level is just shy of $117.85 million. Tendering both Legursky and Foster at a second round level instead would jump that number up to $119.184 million or so. That is still short of the $120 million or so cap number, but it would leave even less wiggle room outside of that.
If Wallace does not reach a long term deal by the time the tenders are handed out, the two sides still have a week to get it done and the Steelers would more than likely need a little more cap room for the first year cap hit for that new deal. They could of course still terminate a contract or two of a player like Jonathan Scott or Will Allen to clear additional room for that, and that is not out of the question of happening. You never know what other contract might be renegotiated as well for say a player liker Casey Hampton.
You also need to keep in mind that if Legursky and Foster only receive the low original round tenders, the Steelers still have the right to match whatever offer sheet that they could receive once the free agency process begins. Neither will likely get much attention in free agency and any offer sheet that they sign could wind up having a lower first year cap number than a second round tender would cost. Of course all it would take is for one team to over value either one of them and the Steelers would likely not be able to match it, but that is a risk the Steelers might be willing to take. It essential lets other teams set the market value for the player.
As Bouchette points out at the end of his piece, the release of Chris Kemoeatu, which wasn\’t totally unexpected, leaves the Steelers real thin at the guard position now and it would be even thinner should they lose Legursky or Foster or God forbid even both. Now you see why all eyes will be on the level of tender that both receive. Being as neither bring compensation of a draft pick, it is the ultimate game of restricted tender chicken should they only tender each at the low original round level. We will only have a few more hours to wait and see just how much the value both and just how much they are willing to risk playing chicken with the restricted tenders.