No New Deal For Beachum Likely Means Tackle Will Explore Free Agency In 2016

The Pittsburgh Steelers failed to sign tackle Kelvin Beachum to a contract extension prior to their Week 1 game against the New England Patriots and that now means the former seventh-round draft pick out of SMU will more than likely test free agency next offseason. We will never know why the two sides couldn’t come to some sort of an agreement, but at this point it just doesn’t matter.

While the Steelers will have the right to place either the franchise or transition tag on Beachum next offseason, in order to help prevent him from signing elsewhere, one would think that route wouldn’t be the most prudent or cost effective one.

For starters, the transition tag this past offseason for offensive linemen was $11.096 million and that number figures to be even higher next offseason. When you consider that center Maurkice Pouncey, guard David DeCastro, and tackle Marcus Gilbert are currently set to collectively count nearly $25 million in total against the cap in 2016, you can see where it will be tough to carry another big number for Beachum in addition.

So, won’t DeCastro’s 2016 cap charge be lowered prior to the start of the regular season? Sure it will, but being as an extension won’t likely be worked out with him until July at the earliest, the team will still have to account for his $8.07 million cap charge until then.

Can’t they just tag Beachum and get a long-term deal worked out with him prior to the start of the regular season? Sure, that’s a possibility, but please keep in mind that Beachum and his agent will have quite a bit of bargaining power at that point should tagging be the course of action. In other words, should the team place a tag on him, they are telling him he’s worth that amount for a single season. At that point, Beachum’s side will then expect an average yearly value amount of the tag number or higher when it comes to an extension. While I do believe that Beachum is currently worth around $8.8 million a season, he really would have to have a fantastic 2015 season to warrant a yearly average of $11 million or higher.

Now, the Steelers could let Beachum explore free agency and hope his best offer is something that they can afford, but one would think if he plays well again in 2015 that his market value will be at least $10 million a season or higher. Besides, reliable starting left tackles don’t just grown on trees and that could also result in Beachum’s market value being slightly elevated because of supply and demand.

At this point, I will be surprised if Beachum is back in Pittsburgh next season and if that happens, one would think that Alejandro Villanueva will be given first crack to fill his shoes. While Villanueva did play well at both tackle spots during the preseason, it’s yet to be seen whether or not he can be a starter in the league. It looks like the Steelers are betting that he can.

Personally, I’m surprised Beachum wasn’t extended, but life goes on.

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