Bill Cowher is rightly and obvious linked with the Pittsburgh Steelers for all time after spending 15 years as their head coach and bringing them their first Super Bowl in 2005 since their dynasty era in the 1970s. He is a Hall of Famer for that legacy, even though he has done a great job of forging a second career as an analyst since retiring from the sidelines.
Which he has said numerous times in the 15 years since that he has no interest in returning to, including recently, by the way.
But it’s understandable, not just because of his job, but because of his history, that retains a keen interest in the comings and goings of his former team. He was recently on the Zach Gelb Show to discuss a number of topics, and of course they touched on the Steelers.
One topic that came up is, of course, the team’s free agency situation, with arguably the top name on the market for them being the 24-year-old wide receiver, JuJu Smith-Schuster. He was asked if the Steelers should pay him number one receiver money, and he gave a roundabout answer in basically saying that they probably couldn’t even if they wanted to.
“I think you have to take into consideration the cap is much lower this year, which is throwing a lot of teams into a little bit of a loop, because the cap isn’t something that you plan on one year or two years out”, Cowher said. “The cap is something you’re looking at on a three- to four-year basis when you start talking about how you structure these contracts”.
“When this year happened, all of a sudden the cap went down instead of going up—there’s a lot of inwards conversations that have to happen”, he added. “How do you get through that cap number? There’s gonna have to be some personnel decisions made that’s reflective of the cap situation”.
The Steelers are in a tighter spot than most teams as far as the cap goes because they like to live on the outskirts of the cap, playing as close to the number as they can, ensuring that they are maximizing their resources for every season, while retaining flexibility. The problem is that this process hinges on a stable salary cap, which occasionally becomes destabilized by things like a once-in-a-century pandemic.
“I think a lot of teams are going to be going through that right now, so there are going to be a lot of players and team having to make tough decisions on players that they’re not going to be able to keep just because of the lower cap number”, Cowher said.
He didn’t specifically say that the Steelers and Smith-Schuster are going to be one of those teams who will be unable to get a deal done as a result of the cap situation, but it’s pretty obvious what he was implying.