On Saturday it was reported that the Pittsburgh Steelers had restructured the contracts of guard David DeCastro and defensive end Stephon Tuitt that resulted in $13.2605 million in 2018 salary cap space being cleared. With those two restructures now done, they might not be the only ones the Steelers do between now and the start of the new league year in March.
As I suggested just after the Steelers were eliminated from the playoffs, wide receiver Antonio Brown and tackle Alejandro Villanueva are both perfect candidates to have their contracts restructured in the coming weeks.
With Brown, who signed a very lucrative extension nearly one full year ago, he is scheduled to earn a $6 million roster bonus in March and a base salary in 2018 of $7.875 million. A full restructure of his contract would result in $9.72 million in 2018 salary cap space being cleared.
When it comes to Villanueva, who signed a four-year, $24 million contract with the Steelers just after he reported to training camp last season, he is due a $3 million roster bonus in March and is scheduled to earn a base salary of $3 million in 2018. A fully allowed restructure of Villanueva’s contract would free up $3.53 million in 2018 salary cap space. Of the two players, Villanueva’s contract has the best chance of being left alone.
It will also be interesting to see how the Steelers ultimately handle the contract of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger this offseason. He is due a $5 million roster in March and with just two full years remaining on his current contract and him reportedly wanting to play at least three more seasons, the Steelers might decide to work out a contract extension with him very soon. Such an extension could conceivably result in roughly $7 million in 2018 salary cap space being cleared.
If an extension for Roethlisberger this offseason isn’t the chosen path, the Steelers could decide to restructure his contract and free up $7.9925 million that way. Personally, I don’t think they’ll go that route and especially if they want to sign him to an extension next offseason.
Also as I pointed out a few weeks ago, restructures, aren’t the only way to clear salary cap space in a hurry. There’s bound to be at least a few salary cap casualties ahead of the start of the 2018 NFL league year in March and leading that list of players who could potentially be cut is safety J.J. Wilcox. Cutting Wilcox would result in a 2018 salary cap savings of $3.125 million prior to roster displacement and I fully expect him to be jettisoned as soon as the Steelers return from the annual scouting combine, if not sooner.
Yes, safety Mike Mitchell can also be cut as well in the coming weeks and such a move would free up $5 million in 2018 salary cap space prior to him being displaced in the top 51. With that said, I have a funny feeling that Mitchell will make it through the entire offseason unscathed.
A few other veterans, such as cornerbacks William Gay and Coty Sensabaugh and wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey, are also prime March salary cap causalities. With that said, cutting all three would result in just $4.35 million in 2018 salary cap space being cleared prior to their roster displacements. That’s just under $3 million after that displacement happens and so with that, I could see all three players, like Mitchell, making it through the offseason.