It’s time to move forward with our position by position look at the Pittsburgh Steelers salary cap situation for 2016 being as the team is exiting from their bye week. We’ve already looked at the quarterback wide receiver position groups and today we will move forward with our look at the tight end position group.
If you missed my previous posts in this series, you can find the links to them below this article.
Players Under Contract For 2016:
Heath Miller – While Miller has certainly lost a step at 33, there’s currently no indication that the Steelers veteran tight end won’t be allowed to play out the final year of his contract in 2016 that’s scheduled to earn him a base salary of $4 million. However, thanks to the team having to restructure his contract prior to the 2015 season in order to clear additional cap space, Miller’s cap charge in 2016 will be $7,181,668. If for some strange reason the Steelers do decide to part ways with Miller during the offseason, they will save $4 million in cap space.
Even though the odds are very good that Miller will be back in 2016, he could see a slightly diminished role in the offense if current rookie tight end Jesse James continues to make progress. Additionally, it won’t be surprising to see the Steelers draft another tight end during the spring.
Matt Spaeth – Like Miller, 2016 is the final contract year for Spaeth, who has already missed two games so far this season with a knee injury and one other with a hand fracture. Spaeth is only scheduled to earn $1 million in 2016, so while he is almost certain to be at Latrobe for training camp next year, there’s no guarantee that he makes the final 53-man roster as his best days are behind him as a No. 2 blocking tight end. The Steelers probably hope that James can surpass Spaeth on the tight end depth chart and if that happens, and the team spends a draft pick on another young tight end, the Minnesota product might just be sent packing just prior to the start of the 2016 season. Such a move would free up $1 million in cap space prior to roster displacement.
Jesse James – James will be in the second year of his rookie contract in 2016 and is scheduled to earn a $525,000 base salary and carry a $577,228 salary cap charge. The Penn State product and former fifth-round draft pick has already dressed for two games so far this season with it looking like he might continue to dress for the remainder of the season.
Players Scheduled To Be Free Agents In 2016:
Rob Blanchflower – Blanchflower, the Steelers seventh-round draft pick in 2014, spent his rookie season on the team’s practice squad. He was signed to a futures contract early in 2015 but found himself on the team’s Reserve/Injured list during training camp after first being waived injured. The oft-injured Massachusetts product will be an exclusive rights free agent at the end of the season and that means if the Steelers want him back to compete in training camp for a roster spot, all they need to do is offer him a one-year contract for $525,000 that he must accept. Even if that winds up being the course of action, there’s no reason right now to think that Blanchflower has a chance to make the 2016 roster being as he just can’t seem to stay healthy, something he also had problems doing in college.