The Pittsburgh Steelers have done a good deal of work over the course of the past month—some of which has been done for them due to retirements—in order to become salary cap compliant. While there is still more work for them to do in the future, they have done enough for now to be ready for the start of the new league year.
One thing that they have so far been able to avoid—and this is increasingly looking like an exception when you take a glance at the recent transaction wires—has been the need to release anybody. Of course, they would have surely had to if they did not benefit from the retirements of tight end Vance McDonald and center Maurkice Pouncey, who themselves would have been prime candidates for release.
Since they retired, however, they were able to avoid that fate and helped save the Steelers some headaches in terms of decision-making, but it’s not a foregone conclusion that they won’t have any releases, and if they do, Vince Williams’ name has come up a lot as a primary candidate.
Ed Bouchette of The Athletic doesn’t believe the eight-year veteran, who is due a base salary of only $4 million this year, will be released, however, which he stated earlier this week during a radio interview on 93.7 The Fan.
“I think that if that were going to happen, it would have already happened”, he said of Williams potentially being released. “I don’t think they’re going to cut anybody else. I think maybe they’re still trying to convince some guys to take some pay cuts, and that could still happen” that if they don’t take a pay cut, they could be let go.
It has happened in the past that they have given players the option of taking a pay cut in order to remain with the team. Ike Taylor and Casey Hampton are both notable examples of starters who accepted a pay cut late in their careers in order to keep their jobs. James Harrison declined to take a $2 million pay cut in 2013, and was subsequently released as a result.
While Pittsburgh is roughly $6 million under the salary cap, they will need more than that, and they have shown the willingness to pinch some pennies already, as was the case when they restructured the contract of fullback Derek Watt for a savings of under $1 million.
If they were willing to make that move for what is a somewhat marginal savings, then I’m not sure we can be comfortable in somebody making $4 million but who could potentially be replaced in the starting lineup with a cheaper alternative (e.g. Robert Spillane) keeping his job, at least not before being asked to accept a pay cut.