The Pittsburgh Steelers made several moves on Monday and now with less than 24 hours to go until the start of the new league year and the free agent signing period, we have a little better picture as to what may or may not happen leading up to the 2015 NFL Draft.
It took a while, but the Steelers finally got around to re-signing linebacker Arthur Moats and tight end Matt Spaeth. Moats signed a three-year deal worth $7.5 million while Spaeth signed a two -year contract that we are still waiting to hear the final numbers on.
The Steelers also issued Right of First Refusal restricted tenders to cornerback Antwon Blake, safety Robert Golden and fullback Will Johnson on Monday. With each of those $1.542 million tenders now in place, the team will be able to match any offers that three might get during the signing period. It’s unlikely that any teams will chase any of those three players, but you just never know.
The Steelers also released veteran defensive end Brett Keisel on Monday and unless he winds up signing elsewhere during the offseason, it looks like his career might be over. Keisel was due a base salary of $1.5 million in 2015 so that’s the amount of salary cap space that the Steelers saved Monday prior to displacement in the top 51 salaries.
Even though the Steelers made a slew of moves on Monday, cornerback Brice McCain still remains unsigned. If his status remains unchanged until 4 p.m. Tuesday, he will become an unrestricted free agent. There was a report last week that the Philadelphia Eagles might have interest in signing McCain should he hit free agency and one would think that the Tennessee Titans might also have their sights set on the cornerback. The Steelers really could stand to have McCain back in 2015, so just keep your fingers crossed when it comes to him.
As far as linebacker Jason Worilds goes, it appears as though he’s quickly running out of suitors for his services now that several other edge rushers have agreed to deals. The Titans, however, still might have their sights on signing him away, but judging by other deals that have already been agreed to, it’s not looking like he’ll break the bank this offseason.
Veteran safety Will Allen will also likely be allowed to test free agency once again, but I can’t imagine that any team would want to pay him more than the minimum on a one-year deal. If that winds up being the case, you would have to think that the Steelers might be interested in signing him to another one-year qualified contract for the minimum with no guarantees that he will make the final 53 man roster out of training camp. We’ll see.
We will all be watching to see what happens with veteran safety Troy Polamalu over the course of the next 48 hours as well. All signs are pointing to him not returning in 2015 so there’s a chance he might be released after the new league year starts if he chooses not to retire.
Cornerback Ike Taylor, linebacker James Harrison, wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey, tight end Michael Palmer, defensive end Clifton Geathers and running back Ben Tate are the Steelers other soon-to-be unrestricted free agents that aren’t expected to be re-signed prior to Tuesday evening.
As of right now, it doesn’t look as though the Steelers will be big players at the beginning of the free agent signing period. If they do decide to make a big move during the first 72 hours or so, they might have to free up more salary cap space. Restructuring the contract of center Maurkice Pouncey could free up as much $3.8 million in salary cap space and another $3.75 million in cap space can be created if Polamalu is released without a post-June 1 designation.