Why We're Always in "Salary Cap Hell"
I've seen a lot of posts about people asking why we're always in the salary cap situation we're in, and why we don't have the money to go out and get the 'big name free agents' or make any kind of significant splash in free agency. There's multiple reasons for this (one being you can't buy Super Bowls - ask the Eagles) but I'm going to explain the significant one. The only constant throughout why we're always looking for ways to get just above the cap.
Let me get this out of the way right now: I am not asking for us to trade or release Ben Roethlisberger. He's an integral part of this organization and whatever future success we're going to have over the next 5 - 6 years.
Roethlisberger is due for 19.5 million dollars this season. 20 million dollars on any cap hit is substantial. 1/6th of the teams cap is going directly to the Quarterback but that's the important thing to keep in mind - he's a franchise Quarterback. There's a general constant among the top 6 Quarterbacks or the 'elite' and their teams when it comes to the cap - they don't have a lot of breathing room. Let's take a look.
(all numbers are pre-free agency and subject to change)
New Orleans Saints - 20.6 million over the cap
Pittsburgh Steelers - 13.8 million over the cap
New York Giants - 10 million over the cap
Green Bay Packers - 5.8 million under the cap
Denver Broncos - 14.9 million under the cap
New England Patriots - 15.8 million under the cap
Those are generally recognized as the 'elite' or top 6 in the NFL, but in order of their cap situation and not talent rating. Now, it's important to note that 4 of the 6 are in pretty rough cap shape heading into the offseason. The two that aren't - the Pats and Broncos - have some guys that are going to be getting a pay raise and thus, they're not going to be swimming in cap room either. Having a franchise Quarterback is both a blessing and a curse, but the pro's definitely outweigh the con's. Having someone like Ben to be the leader and Captain of this team is why we're never able to make any kind of splash in free agency even if we wanted to.
I really hope these 'lets get Percy Harvin!' and 'let's go grab x guy and give him a huge contract!' posts can stop. It boils down to, would you rather have a lucrative free agent pick up, or Ben Roethlisberger? To me, it's a no-brainer.