Steelers start work to get under salary cap

It's become an offseason tradition for the Steelers: Hold end-of-the-year personnel meetings, go to the NFL combine and restructure contracts to get under the salary cap.

The Steelers will restructure the deals for quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and linebacker Lawrence Timmons to create an estimated $9 million in cap room, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Pittsburgh was reportedly $14 million over the cap before making any moves.

Restructuring contracts is hardly headline news. It doesn't give or take away money from players nor does it add any years to their current contracts. The restructuring turns their 2013 salaries into bonuses, so it reduces their cap hit this year and spreads it over the remaining years of their deals. The problem is it forces teams to deal with bloated cap numbers in the future, which often puts them over the cap (like this year for the Steelers).

And this is something the Steelers do frequently. In fact, it's the third straight year that Roethlisberger has restructured his contract. He did it in 2011 and 2012. The last year he didn't do it was 2010, when there was no salary cap.

The Steelers need to be under the cap by March 12, but they could be looking to see if they have enough room to sign free-agent wide receiver Steve Breaston, who is scheduled to meet with the Steelers by the end of the week.

The most interesting part of the Steelers news Tuesday is the fact that the team met with James Harrison's agent at the NFL combine. Harrison is due $6.57 million in 2013, and the Steelers may want to restructure his deal or ask him to take a pay cut (Harrison has previously said he wouldn't reduce his salary). Bill Parise, the agent for Harrison, told the Post-Gazette that neither option was discussed but the sides plan to meet again. If the Steelers didn't approach Harrison about a pay cut or restructuring, it makes you wonder why they met in the first place.