While the Pittsburgh Steelers may have gained some tangible evidence of improvement, improving their win total by three games and hosting a playoff game as a division champion for the first time in four seasons, there is no doubt that the team is far from a finished product.
No team, of course, is a finished product in the offseason. Every team loses players to free agency and retirement, and replaces them through the same free agency process, as well as the draft.
With all of the change that occurs during the offseason, it’s often difficult to predict how a particular team might fare. They may wind up holding the Lombardi trophy or the first overall draft pick when all is said and done.
In order to gain a better feel for not only the issues facing the team this year, but how those issues might play out, it’s useful to take the devil’s advocate approach. This is the pessimistic side of the coin.
Question: Should the Steelers continue to restructure other players to gain cap space in 2015?
Believe it or not, the Steelers were, for once, already cap compliant this offseason before they made any moves. Just barely compliant, but it still counts.
Still, you can’t improve your team without spending any money, and you can’t spend any money when you’re up against the cap, so the front office began chipping away at their salary cap last week with the reports of a pair of restructured contracts, to go along with whispers of others in the works.
The Steelers reworked the contracts of Marcus Gilbert and Mike Mitchell, which in the process saved them about $6.5 million or so. They seem poised to continue this process with Maurkice Pouncey and Antonio Brown as they seek to create space well in excess of $10 million.
Yet if they intend to create space to allow them to become major players in free agency, while still having money left over for their own free agents and other necessary expenses, it seems likely that they would have to resort to even more restructures, and before electing to do that, there are some questions that they must consider.
While it’s true that they are in sell out mode with a franchise quarterback, they have to consider just how far away they are from legitimately competing for a championship. This is a question of both quality and quantity. How much must the team improve as a whole in order to be truly competitive, and how many pieces must be replaced in order for that to happen?
I think most will agree that they are probably not simply one player away from being the Super Bowl champion—or at least that one player will not be the difference between them winning it all or falling short.
While it’s always nice to add top tier talent into your organization, there are risks and rewards to consider. What kind of position will you be in a year or two from now with all the money you pushed down the road in order to get that talent this year?
If you didn’t win it all, will it have been worth it? How much should sustainability still be a factor? After all, it’s not as though Ben Roethlisberger is exactly in his twilight years.