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Hawaii 5-0
01-20-2013, 01:20 AM
Painful Cuts Ahead

http://media.scout.com/Media/Image/114/1144752.jpg

James? Troy? Or both? (Shamus/Getty Images)

By Jim Wexell
Publisher SteelCityInsider.net
Posted Jan 19, 2013

To come into cap compliance by March 12, the Steelers are going to have to cut some fan favorites. Jim Wexell breaks down the numbers provided by SCI capologist Ian Whetstone.

I apologize up front, because no one signed up here to read about football from an accountant’s point of view.

But it’s better than reading about Manti Te’o, isn’t it?

Ah, you’re getting my point.

So buck up and follow along, because every year at this time we need to take a look at the numbers behind the makeup of the Steelers’ roster. And now is that time.

First of all, give a heartfelt thanks to GM Kevin Colbert, who spoke to a select group of football writers this week and told them he was going to blow up the team.

Well, he didn’t say exactly that. He put it this way: “If we don’t change the roster that produced 8-8, we’d be silly to expect a better result if we have the same group of guys … We’re not married to any of these guys.”

To blow up or tune up, that is the question.

Of course, we can let the numbers be our guide, and right now, according to Ian Whetstone, the resident capologist at SteelCityInsider.net, the Steelers have 44 players under contract at a cost of approximately $133.2 million.

By March 12, the start of the league’s fiscal New Year, the Steelers must pare that total salary number to $121 million for the top 51 salaries.

To get to 51, let’s add exclusive rights free agents DeMarcus Van Dyke ($555,000) and Baron Batch ($480,000) and extend original-round tenders of $1.386 million to restricted free agents Jonathan Dwyer, Steve McLendon, Isaac Redman, Emmanuel Sanders and Stevenson Sylvester.

Yes, the Steelers could lose McLendon or Redman without draft-choice compensation, but they could also match any offer made to them.

That would bring the cap total to a little more than $141 million, so the Steelers would need to cut approximately $20 million by March 12 just to avoid penalty.

In the ensuing weeks and months, they would then need to clear enough room to sign their draft picks and any of their following free agents:

Will Allen, Charlie Batch, Plaxico Burress, Larry Foote, Ramon Foster, Casey Hampton, Brandon Johnson, David Johnson, Byron Leftwich, Doug Legursky, Keenan Lewis, Rashard Mendenhall, Ryan Mundy, Leonard Pope, Max Starks, Mike Wallace and Greg Warren.

Now, sorting through that long list of free agents is a column in itself (and I swear I’ll write that column if I hear the name Te’o one more time), but for now let’s stay focused on the numbers. Please.

Now, since the draft class will cost about $3 million, and they’ll want to put aside about $7 million to keep some free agents, it looks like Colbert, Mike Tomlin, Omar Khan and the Rooneys will need to pare about $30 million total to get ready for next season. And this is where the fun stops.

Here are the veterans who, if cut, would provide the most cap savings:

James Harrison ($5.1M), Troy Polamalu ($4.9M), Ben Roethlisberger ($4M), Heath Miller ($3.8M), Ryan Clark ($3.5M), Brett Keisel ($2.8M), Ike Taylor ($2.5M), Ziggy Hood ($2M), Willie Colon ($1.2M), Shaun Suisham ($1.1M) and Jerricho Cotchery ($1M). (They could pull one or two of the aforementioned $1.4 million RFA tenders as well.)

The total savings if all were cut would be approximately $32 million, or $2 million over our target.

And remember that the minimum wage of a potential replacement is $405,000, so multiply that by the 11 vets we just cut and now we’re still looking to find an additional $2.5 million to pare.

That would leave the Steelers with someone just as bad as Tim Tebow – only with less experience – as the starting at quarterback, so what’s the point?

There has to be a better way. And there is.

As Colbert said, the Steelers will cut players, but also extend and restructure contracts. Thankfully, Ian Whetstone’s numerical wizardry provides us with that insight as well.

According to Ian, a reasonable four-year contract extension (with a $35 million bonus) for Roethlisberger would provide about $3.5 million in relief. And full restructures of Timmons, Miller and Antonio Brown would provide another $10.7 million.

As for the cutting of veterans, it doesn’t appear as if they’ll be able to avoid cutting the 35-year-old Harrison, bringing the target total to $19.3 million.

Colon and Cotchery are two more painful cuts, and the total’s now at $21.5 million.

That gets the team into compliance by March 12, but every signing thereafter would require an equal and opposite reaction.

Some will call for the cutting of Polamalu, I’m sure, or possibly Clark, Keisel and/or Taylor.

That’s not my thinking, but then again it’s not my money. It’s just my column, and I probably should’ve used the space to write about Te’o. It would’ve been less depressing.

http://pit.scout.com/2/1259102.html

kan_t
01-20-2013, 02:10 AM
I think Troy is safe. Given his age and performance in the last few games, I think the Steelers will still count him in their mid-term plan. I'm not even sure he would be requested to have a pay cut.

James Harrison and Brett Keisel are core players who are on danger of being cut.

Colon is widely considered a salary cap casualty but I think it will depends on whether they can re-sign Foster.

fer522
01-20-2013, 02:16 AM
If all those guys were to be cut we'd be looking at a 1-15 season next year

WokeUpWithaWoodley
01-20-2013, 02:26 AM
So basically this draft is really important especially in rounds 1 and 2 basically need to find guys who can contribute right away

tanda10506
01-20-2013, 02:43 AM
Wow, so if we cut half our team and restructure ourselves to a future salary cap hell we can squeak under the salary cap this upcoming year? Looks like the nonsense of "the Steelers don't rebuild, only reload" is exactly that, nonsense.

WokeUpWithaWoodley
01-20-2013, 03:00 AM
So signing lewis probably wont happen

steeltheone
01-20-2013, 08:06 AM
So basically this draft is really important especially in rounds 1 and 2 basically need to find guys who can contribute right away

The defensive draft picks we make rarely see the field to year 3.

SteeleReign
01-20-2013, 09:35 AM
The defensive draft picks we make rarely see the field to year 3.

Right, and by the time they are really ready to contribute, they are potential cap cut victims.

maddog78
01-20-2013, 09:46 AM
The defensive draft picks we make rarely see the field to year 3.

That's a LeBeau/Mitchell problem.

WokeUpWithaWoodley
01-20-2013, 10:00 AM
The defensive draft picks we make rarely see the field to year 3.

Exactly that's why it's important if our key guys leave.

Steelers5895
01-20-2013, 10:39 AM
The Steelers will be bargain shopping and thankfully the positions of need are pretty deep in the draft.

This is the year, if any, the steelers may want to trade out of the first round and gather up next year and/or later round picks.

fer522
01-20-2013, 10:46 AM
So signing lewis probably wont happen

Shit!! I don't think we can even afford to pay the waterboy

pczach
01-20-2013, 11:00 AM
The defensive draft picks we make rarely see the field to year 3.

That's a major reason why they struggle on the offensive side of the ball. There's a large percentage of the money that goes to the defense. That means that on top of the offense working at a major disadvantage, when the defense needs a major retool, you better be right on almost all your moves. It also means you better do well in the draft to restock and hopefully find some immediate help.

Steelers5895
01-20-2013, 11:14 AM
That's a major reason why they struggle on the offensive side of the ball. There's a large percentage of the money that goes to the defense. That means that on top of the offense working at a major disadvantage, when the defense needs a major retool, you better be right on almost all your moves. It also means you better do well in the draft to restock and hopefully find some immediate help.

great point. i think the philosophy is as long as we have Ben we are ok on offense. that may have been the case but its going to be a "see saw" of needs if we dont draft, replenish and develop with balance. it will be defense struggles then offense then defense then offense then both like this year.

steelfury02
01-20-2013, 11:19 AM
I predict you'll see a breakout performance from someone else on defense and offense - I'd imagine one of the young bucks is getting pretty excited to finally prove their worth - should be exciting for us Steelers fans - I wouldn't be surprised to see another rookie or 2nd/3rd year player to have a huge year on offense. As much as we're all nervous about a possible stretch of mediocrity - we very well could see that some of these painful cuts is what we needed to really end some teething and have these guys make a name for themselves

OX1947
01-20-2013, 11:44 AM
We have heard this story for years. Steelers drop one main guy out the cog, and that's it. Harrison has one more year, Troy, 2 more. Everyone else is fair game.

pczach
01-20-2013, 11:57 AM
I predict you'll see a breakout performance from someone else on defense and offense - I'd imagine one of the young bucks is getting pretty excited to finally prove their worth - should be exciting for us Steelers fans - I wouldn't be surprised to see another rookie or 2nd/3rd year player to have a huge year on offense. As much as we're all nervous about a possible stretch of mediocrity - we very well could see that some of these painful cuts is what we needed to really end some teething and have these guys make a name for themselves

I don't think that we're done for years like many think here by any stretch of the imagination. I'm just pointing out how difficult it is to maintain a high level of play for a long period of time. I think you're right. There are always new players that will step up and step out of the shadows of the men that started ahead of them. If the front office can continue to bring in the talent like they have over the last few decades, they are going to be fine. It's all part of the Steeler's way of doing things. Dick LeBeau's system of defense has been the mainstay of our team and our identity for many years, even when he wasn't the defensive coordinator here. It is that stability that has allowed them to stay the course and fill gaps and seams because they are not constantly retooling and changing systems. Continuity allows young players to master the schemes they play, and become another cog in the gears that move this franchise.

El-Gonzo Jackson
01-20-2013, 01:08 PM
We have heard this story for years. Steelers drop one main guy out the cog, and that's it. Harrison has one more year, Troy, 2 more. Everyone else is fair game.

Yeah, I am not too worried. Harrison might get cut, Troy likely not. Restructure a bunch of guys contract and under the cap they will be.

Hawaii 5-0
01-20-2013, 01:24 PM
Shit!! I don't think we can even afford to pay the waterboy

we might just have to cut the current one and get a younger waterboy to groom for the future and accept the accompanying growing pains for a couple of seasons...

Lady Steel
01-20-2013, 02:09 PM
Cut Steely McBeam. It's all his fault. :chuckle:

Fire Arians
01-20-2013, 02:15 PM
If all those guys were to be cut we'd be looking at a 1-15 season next year

I don't think we'll ever be that bad as long as we have ben under center, but the team is going through a transition.

as much this opinion may be unpopular, it may be 2-3 years before we are in contention for the title, we have some adjustments to make that will take more than 1 year to fix. and the AFC is getting increasingly difficult to win with more contenders popping up. andrew luck is eventually going to give team fits a la another tom brady in the AFC

blackandgoldsc
01-20-2013, 02:23 PM
This really parallels the government don't you think? Always trying to find ways to extend or manipulate the debt ceiling yet never really SOLVING the problem of too much debt...
Really this isn't a political post at all, don't care about politics but I thought it was eerily similar. I think that the Steelers groomed so many stars that we will be in cap hell every year for a long time. Sure we hope the cap limit raises to give us relief (similar to govt) but it is only temporary. I just see this same thread happening every year for the next 5 years +

SteelersCanada
01-20-2013, 02:30 PM
We're going to be 1-15 because we're shedding the dead weight on this team and replacing them with younger and more explosive guys? Getting rid of Harrison, Keisel, Hampton and Troy might make our defensive more explosive. Harrison is struggling with severe knee and back problems while Keisel and Hampton have clearly lost a couple steps to their game. Great, they're vocal leaders in the locker room but at this point, we're worse off on defense when they're on the field than when they're not.

Enter Polamalu. He's easily going to be the most controversial and hardest cut this team is going to have to make, but I think it's a necessary one. Do you guys think he's worth the 10 million dollar cap hit we're going to take for him to stay on this team? For me, it's an easy no. He's lost a step, too, but because of his play style and not necessarily his age, but I'm sure that factors in as well. He's no longer the explosive, playmaking Safety we've all come to expect on Sundays and this defense was actually better against the pass when we had two Safeties deep, playing a more conventional 3-4 defense rather than relying on Troy as our only playmaker on the field. Either talk him into retirement or cut him loose because we've dug ourselves into a hole with all these older players and their ridiculously high cap hits.

They're just not worth it anymore. They're not contributing and, as hard as it is to say good-bye for some of you, it's a no-brainer for me. Harrison isn't worth a 10 million dollar cap hit, neither is Polamalu. Keisel isn't worth his 4.5 million dollar cap hit, either and these guys have to be shown the door so new blood can come in. Sorry guys, it's time to let the younger guys take over the reigns.

Draft OLB, S/WR, ILB in that order and let them fucking play. I'm getting tired of LeBeau's 'rookies aren't ready!' bullshit and letting these aging guys play over their faster and more explosive counter-parts. If we need a change in defensive ideology (not scheme, chill) then so be it. Why didn't Heyward play over Keisel? Why wasn't McLendon playing over Hampton despite obviously outplaying him every single snap he was on the field? Why are younger guys punished for making a play in the backfield when our OLBs are struggling to make plays?

TRH
01-20-2013, 03:27 PM
We're going to be 1-15 because we're shedding the dead weight on this team and replacing them with younger and more explosive guys? Getting rid of Harrison, Keisel, Hampton and Troy might make our defensive more explosive. Harrison is struggling with severe knee and back problems while Keisel and Hampton have clearly lost a couple steps to their game. Great, they're vocal leaders in the locker room but at this point, we're worse off on defense when they're on the field than when they're not.

Enter Polamalu. He's easily going to be the most controversial and hardest cut this team is going to have to make, but I think it's a necessary one. Do you guys think he's worth the 10 million dollar cap hit we're going to take for him to stay on this team? For me, it's an easy no. He's lost a step, too, but because of his play style and not necessarily his age, but I'm sure that factors in as well. He's no longer the explosive, playmaking Safety we've all come to expect on Sundays and this defense was actually better against the pass when we had two Safeties deep, playing a more conventional 3-4 defense rather than relying on Troy as our only playmaker on the field. Either talk him into retirement or cut him loose because we've dug ourselves into a hole with all these older players and their ridiculously high cap hits.

They're just not worth it anymore. They're not contributing and, as hard as it is to say good-bye for some of you, it's a no-brainer for me. Harrison isn't worth a 10 million dollar cap hit, neither is Polamalu. Keisel isn't worth his 4.5 million dollar cap hit, either and these guys have to be shown the door so new blood can come in. Sorry guys, it's time to let the younger guys take over the reigns.

Draft OLB, S/WR, ILB in that order and let them fucking play. I'm getting tired of LeBeau's 'rookies aren't ready!' bullshit and letting these aging guys play over their faster and more explosive counter-parts. If we need a change in defensive ideology (not scheme, chill) then so be it. Why didn't Heyward play over Keisel? Why wasn't McLendon playing over Hampton despite obviously outplaying him every single snap he was on the field? Why are younger guys punished for making a play in the backfield when our OLBs are struggling to make plays?


I agree with you in a couple of your points.

1 - replacements for those guys you listed may actually make our defense better
2 - Troy. Steeler fans are going to have to get over the "nostalgia" highlight reels and the emotional connection - and let him go.. You are absolutely right - while he's worth something - he sure as HELL isn't worth the $10 million figures that he's being paid - not even close.
People have made comments about offenses "having to take account for him". Not $10 million dollars worth.

I love those guys, but i wont' be sad if Troy, Harrison, Kiesel and Hampton are all cut. I'm really looking forward to moving on to the next thing.

sloppyjoe
01-20-2013, 04:37 PM
just think of the extra guys we would have to cut if the walllass lovers had their way and gave him 10+ for the next 5

OX1947
01-20-2013, 04:38 PM
just think of the extra guys we would have to cut if the walllass lovers had their way and gave him 10+ for the next 5

haahahahahaha Wallass. I cant believe i didnt think of that first. Props!

SteelersCanada
01-20-2013, 06:55 PM
Aaaaaaaaaaand someone mentioned Wallace. How long did it take? 25 responses? I guess that's not bad, usually it's within the first 15 or so.

TRH
01-20-2013, 07:50 PM
Aaaaaaaaaaand someone mentioned Wallace. How long did it take? 25 responses? I guess that's not bad, usually it's within the first 15 or so.

i don't think there's a thread on this board in existence that doesn't evolve into blame, bash, and throw stones at either Wallace or Ben - no matter what the subject. Sad.

Blacksburg Zach
01-20-2013, 07:55 PM
i don't think there's a thread on this board in existence that doesn't evolve into blame, bash, and throw stones at either Wallace or Ben - no matter what the subject. Sad.

Don't forget about Tomlin and Haley. Plenty of people on the board bash them as well.

SteelersCanada
01-20-2013, 07:55 PM
i don't think there's a thread on this board in existence that doesn't evolve into blame, bash, and throw stones at either Wallace or Ben - no matter what the subject. Sad.

Very, very true.

TRH
01-20-2013, 08:04 PM
....

sloppyjoe
01-20-2013, 09:45 PM
Don't forget about Tomlin and Haley. Plenty of people on the board bash them as well.

so its nobodies fault that this team is headed in the wrong direction?