The offseason is inevitably a period of projection and speculation, which makes it the ideal time to ponder the hypotheticals that the Pittsburgh Steelers will face over the course of the next year, whether it is addressing free agency, the draft, performance on the field, or some more ephemeral topic.
That is what I will look to address in our Buy or Sell series. In each installment, I will introduce a topic statement and weigh some of the arguments for either buying it (meaning that you agree with it or expect it to be true) or selling it (meaning you disagree with it or expect it to be false).
The range of topics will be intentionally wide, from the general to the specific, from the immediate to that in the far future. And as we all tend to have an opinion on just about everything, I invite you to share your own each morning on the topic statement of the day.
Topic Statement: The Steelers should look to Vince Williams for cap relief with Robert Spillane ready to step up.
Explanation: When Devin Bush went down, Robert Spillane came in and played well, but he would be better suited for playing at Vince Williams’ position than at the speedier mack role, and he is capable of calling the defense on top of that. While nobody should be rushing to kick Williams to the curb, the Steelers don’t have many options to create salary cap space.
The salary cap dictates everything, and the cap puzzle for the Steelers this year is a doozy. They’re going to have to approach this thing from every angle to make it all work this time around. Vance McDonald is already gone. Maurkice Pouncey could be gone whether he retires or not. And those might not be the only veterans they have to part with to conduct their business.
Among those who would produce a meaningful cap savings if released, who could even reasonably be in the discussion, are Joe Haden ($7 million), Steven Nelson ($8.25 million), David DeCastro ($8.75 million), and…Williams ($4 million). That’s it. That’s the list. They’re not cutting Ben Roethlisberger, Stephon Tuitt, Cameron Heyward, Eric Ebron, or T.J. Watt, and nobody else creates meaningful cap relief if cut. Out of those names, it’s obvious who’s the most likely to go.
The Steelers came dangerously close to playing Tegray Scales on defense last year, in case we’re forgetting. Marcus Allen played extended time at inside linebacker, in case we’re forgetting. The Steelers had to trade for Avery Williamson, in case we’re forgetting.
You don’t throw linebacker depth away when you have it, and to call Williams linebacker depth in and of itself is insulting. Not only is he a starter, he is a leader, a motivator, and simply a great person to have in the organization. That’s more than worth the price tag of $4 million. There are other avenues to explore to create cap relief. This would be the last resort.