Steelers Contract Look-Back: Duce Staley 2004 Signing

Continuing on with my look back at lucrative contracts signed by Pittsburgh Steelers over the course of the last 15 years, today I will recall for you the signing of running back Duce Staley back in 2004.

When the Steelers signed Staley he was already 29 years of age and he was coming off of a season in which he had rushed for just 463 yards and 5 touchdowns with the Philadelphia Eagles. It was reported at the time that Staley would be competing with Jerome Bettis for the starting running back job in Pittsburgh as the Steelers had finished as the 31st ranked rushing team in the NFL in 2003.

Staley’s deal with the Steelers was for five years and while it had a base value of $14 million, the running back stood to earn a total of $18.5 million over the life of the contract via incentives. As part of the deal, Staley was given a $4 million signing bonus and I’m sorry to say that I do not know what his NLTBE incentives were tied to, but it’s easy to say that he never achieved any of them.

At the time, it didn’t seem as though Staley’s deal was a bad one and especially when you consider that his first-year base salary cap charge was $1.46 million. Additionally, Staley managed to rush for 707 yards and averaged 4.68 yards per carry in the Steelers first 7 games of the 2004 season which resulted in him being the league’s fifth-best running back at that point of the year. Staley, however, would go on to miss the Steelers next four games with a hamstring injury. He would later miss another two games because of the same injury and his inaugural season in Pittsburgh ended with him rushing for just 830 yards and a single touchdown.

Ahead of the 2005 season, the Steelers needed salary cap space so they restructured Staley’s contract. That move consisted of $1.485 million of Staley’s $2.15 million base salary that he was scheduled to earn to be converted into a signing bonus. The 2005 season wasn’t kind to Staley at all as the veteran running back missed most of the year due to knee problems. He ended that season with 38 total carries for 148 yards. The Steelers didn’t miss him, however, and they went on to win the Super Bowl that season.

Ahead of the 2006 season, Staley restructured his contract once again, reducing his salary from $2.5 million to $1.5 million and loading up his contract with other incentives. After playing just one snap in the Steelers 2006 regular season opener against the Miami Dolphins, Staley never dressed for another game and he was ultimately released by the team very late in the year. That move, however, resulted in the team taking an additionally dead money hit in 2007. Staley never played another down in the NFL and he pocketed roughly $8.31 million during his time in Pittsburgh which included 242 total offensive touches for 1,067 total yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns.

Below is the basic breakdown of the original deal Staley signed in 2004.

2004 $660,000.00 $800,000.00 $0 $900,000.00 $1,460,000.00
2005 $2,150,000.00 $800,000.00 $0 $900,000.00 $2,950,000.00
2006 $2,500,000.00 $800,000.00 $0 $900,000.00 $3,300,000.00
2007 $2,690,000.00 $800,000.00 $0 $900,000.00 $3,490,000.00
2008 $2,000,000.00 $800,000.00 $0 $900,000.00 $2,800,000.00


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