The journey toward Super Bowl LII ended far too prematurely for the Pittsburgh Steelers, sending them into offseason mode before we were ready for it. But we are in it now, and are ready to move on, through the Combine, through free agency, through the draft, into OTAs, and beyond.
We have asked and answered a lot of questions over the years and will continue to do so, and at the moment, there seem to be a ton of questions that need answering. A surprise early exit in the postseason will do that to you though, especially when it happens in the way it did.
You can rest assured that we have the questions, and we will be monitoring developments all throughout the offseason process, all the way down to Latrobe. Pending free agents, possible veteran roster cuts, contract extensions, pre-draft visits, pro days, all of it will have its place when the time arises.
Question: What is the next move regarding the salary cap to be made?
While there was a bit of excitement, or eye-rolling, stemming from the Steelers’ recent activity, specifically the restructuring of the contracts of Stephon Tuitt and David DeCastro in order to clear over $13 million in cap space for the 2018 season, the majority are functioning under the understanding that this is just the beginning of the fiscal tinkering.
Depending on where the actual salary cap ends up landing, the Steelers will have put themselves somewhere in the ballpark of $7-10 million under the cap, and while that might sound like a lot of money, it really isn’t that much when you consider the number of future expenditures not currently accounted for.
While the only real significant free agent question that they have is Le’Veon Bell, that is…well, a pretty big question. After all, in order to retain him even in the best possible circumstances, they would probably already need to create additional cap space just to weather his first-year cap hit.
Given that they already restructured contracts, it’s certainly a consideration that they may consider to do so. Antonio Brown, Cameron Heyward, and Alejandro Villanueva may be the most desirable contracts to restructure, as they all include high salaries with at least two additional years left on their deal to spread out the cap hit.
Roster trimming would be the other likely move, though given that it is not necessary in order to become cap-compliant—for the moment—one might think this action can wait. J.J. Wilcox is the most obvious target when you compare his level of compensation to his value to the team based on both role and performance.
Extensions are worth consideration, and Art Rooney II has already acknowledged that one for Ben Roethlisberger is on the table, though far from a guarantee to happen. Really, though, he may be the only one, as those players in the final year of their deals this season are not necessarily ones you would plan ahead to extend, such as Jesse James.