I think our defensive scheme lends itself to cap difficulties. Think about it. Most of our defensive players don't get the opportunity to produce until years 3,4,5. By that time, the FO must decide who to pay and who not. With only one or two years of production to gauge value, mistakes are going to be made.
The Patsies get, quite often, immediate production out of rookies and get great value for these players....in other words, a rookie making $750k producing immediately...YEARS before demanding big money. Look at guys like McCourty, Spikes, Wilson, Jones, Hightower and Chung. They are producing immediately, and on the cheap.
Combined salaries of those players? $7.3mil.
Combined salaries of Hampton, Keisel, Harrison, and Taylor? $22.7mil.
Don't flame me for bringing up the Patsies. I hate 'em, but they do find ways to make their young guys relevant right away. The Steelers used to handle personnel in a much different way that they do now. Guys hitting age 30 generally were allowed to walk. Many times to my dismay, but it was hard to argue that for the most part, those decisions didn't bite us in the ass.
I LOVE LeBeau, but is it possible to get some
production out of our defensive youngsters a little
earlier? That way, smarter decisions on long-term contracts can be made when the time comes.