Between now and the start of the regular season it’s almost guaranteed the Pittsburgh Steelers will extend the contract of guard David DeCastro, who is currently scheduled to earn $8.07 million in 2016 after having his fifth-year option picked up in 2015. Beyond DeCastro, it’s hard to say for sure if any other player currently under contract will ultimately receive an extension. With that said, Steelers team president Art Rooney II said in a recent interview that more than just one player will be negotiated with over the course of the next several weeks.
“This time of year we normally have it narrowed down to just a handful of players that we might be in conversations with and I think this year is no exception, Rooney recently told Missi Matthews of steelers.com. “There will be a few players that we talk about their contracts with. We’ll obviously talk to their representatives about it and if we can get an extension done while we’re here, it’s a good time of year to get some business done.”
Other than DeCastro, the Steelers could quite possibly still work out extensions with a few players and leading that list is linebacker Lawrence Timmons, running back Le’Veon Bell and wide receiver Antonio Brown. In fact, that’s pretty much the list right there as I can’t see wide receiver Markus Wheaton signing a new deal and the same goes for linebackers Jarvis Jones and Vince Williams.
As for Brown, if anything is done with his contract at all, it’s likely to include the Steelers once again paying him forward some of next year’s base salary as general manager Kevin Colbert is unlikely to stray from his rule of not extending non-quarterbacks who have more than one year left on their current contracts.
With Brown scratched off this list, that narrows it down to Timmons and Bell.
It’s hard to know what the organization really thinks about Bell right now and it will be even harder to know should his four-game suspension wind up not being overturned after his appeal is heard in a few more weeks.
Then there’s Timmons, who while now is on the wrong side of 30, still has a few years left in him. He’s also never caused the organization problems and is one of the few unquestioned leaders for the team on the defensive side of the football. Oh, and he wants to stay in Pittsburgh and finish his career there.
“I’ve been playing here forever,” Timmons said Monday morning, according to Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “I’ve only been with one franchise. I want to keep it that way.”
As of Tuesday morning, the Steelers have $3,040,481 in available salary cap space and that’s usually right around the amount they like to enter a regular season with. With that said, the team will obviously have future cap costs ahead of them that could potentially wind up eating up another $2 million of the currently available space as a 10-man practice squad along with a 52nd and 53rd spot still need to be accounted for. DeCastro’s forthcoming extension will free up some money. However, paying Brown a large portion of his 2017 base salary this offseason, should that ultimately happen, will result in his 2016 cap charge increasing some.
Should Bell wind up receiving a new deal, it would easily result in his 2016 cap charge increasing as he’s currently only scheduled to count $1.3111 million pending his four-game suspension. Then there’s Timmons, who currently has the second-highest cap charge on the team this year. Giving him an extension with no, or a modest, new signing bonus would result in his 2016 cap charge being reduced quite a bit.
Rooney really seemed to hint strongly that multiple extensions will take place between now and the start of the regular season. We know DeCastro will be one of them and don’t be surprised if Timmons is the other one.