With only six weeks remaining in the Pittsburgh Steelers 2015 regular season, I have started to turn some of my attention to the team’s 2016 salary cap situation as well as the lists of soon-to-be free agents. Over the course of the next few weeks, I will be going through the Steelers roster position group by positron group and will provide you a detailed look at not only player’s contracts and how they fit in the team’s 2016 salary cap picture, but also a detailed look at the soon-to-be free agents in those position groups as well.
Today, we will start things off with a look at at the quarterback position.
Players Under Contract For 2016:
Ben Roethlisberger – As you would expect, Roethlisberger currently owns the Steelers largest salary cap charge in 2016 after signing a huge four-year contract extension with them in March. Because of that, Roethlisberger’s $17.75 million base salary and $23.95 million cap charge in 2016 will more than likely be restructured and lowered this coming March.
For example, the Steelers could turn $12 million of Roethlisberger’s $17.75 base salary in 2016 into a signing bonus and that would free up $9 million in salary cap space in the process. They could, of course, save even more than that by turning even more of his base salary into a signing bonus, but I doubt the restructured amount will exceed $12 million.
Roethlisberger will turn 34 in March so the organization needs to really be careful with restructure amounts with him moving forward.
Landry Jones – As it stands right now, Jones is the only other quarterback besides Roethlisberger currently on the roster that’s under contract for the 2016 season. Jones is scheduled to earn $675,000 in 2016 with a cap charge of $784,805 in his final season. Would the Steelers consider extending his contract during the offseason due to how he’s played so far this season in limited action? It’s possible, but such an extension would have to be worthwhile for Jones as well, as his stock has never been higher than what it is right now. In my opinion, Jones would be foolish to sign a long-term deal that would pay him less than $2 million a season. After the 2016 season, Jones will have earned almost $2.6 million in his first four years in the league. If the Steelers do wind up extending Jones, such a transaction isn’t likely to happen until after the team reports to training camp and plays a few preseason games.
Players Scheduled To Be Free Agents In 2016
Bruce Gradkowski – Gradkowski will be an unrestricted free agent during the offseason and he’s only played a total of 10 offensive snaps since arriving in Pittsburgh in 2013. The year prior to that, Gradkowski played just 31 snaps with the Cincinnati Bengals. In other words, his market value during the offseason should be the veteran minimum. If Gradkowski is willing to sign a one-year qualifying veteran contract for the minimum during the offseason in order to battle Jones for the No. 2 job, the Steelers should be all over that as such contracts come with reduced salary cap charges. It’s really hard to imagine that Gradkowski will have many free agent suitors prior to June. He will also turn 33 in January.
Mike Vick – Like Gradkowski, Vick will also be an unrestricted free agent after the 2015 season is over. Based on his limited play this season, Vick will be lucky to find a team willing to sign him. In fact, the 35-year-old former first round draft pick has more than likely thrown his last pass in the NFL. Vick signed for the veteran minimum with the Steelers during the preseason and thankfully that qualifying contract came with a reduced cap charge of $585,000. I just can’t see the Steelers wanting to retain him even as their No. 3.