The 2014 season saw the Pittsburgh Steelers on the rise, finishing with an 11-5 record and a division title following two straight seasons of missing the playoffs with 8-8 records. They finished off the regular season with four straight victories, but suffered a disappointing Wildcard round loss against the Ravens without their star running back.
Nobody is saying that the Steelers, however, are a finished product. Not even the Super Bowl champion is a finished product after a season concludes, because every team undergoes a series of changes throughout the offseason via free agency, retirement, and the draft, in addition to a myriad of other factors.
Pittsburgh is certainly no different, of course, and they are expected to see a number of new faces in the starting lineup for the third straight season. One of the biggest issues the Steelers currently face is determining how best to navigate the salary cap, and yesterday they chose to begin by initiating the process to restructure some contracts.
With the restructured deals if Marcus Gilbert, Mike Mitchell, and Maurkice Pouncey reportedly completed or pending, the Steelers have already shaved off about $9.5 million worth of cap space, and perhaps have a little over $10 million to spend at the moment.
But that money may not go as far as you would think, so don’t get your hopes up just yet about the Steelers planning to make an even bigger splash in the free agent market this year after dipping their feet in a year ago.
Because in reality, $10 million isn’t really that much to go around at this time of year. Indeed, they will certainly need to create even more to get even their housekeeping and procedural moves done.
Keeping in mind the need for about $7-8 million later in the season to sign the rookie draft class and for an in-season emergency fund, the Steelers still have three restricted free agents that they appear to want to re-sign, at a value of about $1.5 million each.
Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert has also been pretty clear that the team would definitely like to be able to re-sign outside linebacker Jason Worilds, and if they manage to accomplish that, it’s going to cost a decent amount of money.
And, of course, there are the other free agents that they would very much like to re-sign, such as Matt Spaeth, Brice McCain, and Arthur Moats, some of whom may not come as affordably as they did a year ago.
Other moves will come, of course. Some major contracts are due for extensions, which could clear additional cap space. Some cuts, both major and minor, will add up to additional cap savings.
But many of these moves could come beyond the initial free agency rush. The money created now will be used to take care of business from within. Additional space can be created later to fill out the roster in free agency. In other words, I wouldn’t get my hopes up that these moves mean much about making a splash in free agency.