Cap spike comes at ideal time for Steelers

PITTSBURGH -- The good news for the Steelers in regard to the salary cap extends beyond 2014.

NFL ESPN Insider Adam Schefter reported Friday that the cap will jump from $123 million to $133 million this year, and such a spike would leave the Steelers roughly $5.75 million over the cap with less than two weeks to get in compliance with it.

The spending ceiling could exceed $150 million by 2016, something that bodes particularly well for an organization that has to sign its quarterback to another long-term contract.

The Steelers don’t appear to be in any hurry to sign quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to a long-term deal. But if they buy into projections of the cap making much more than incremental increases over the next three years it could accelerate their plans in regard to Roethlisberger.

Roethlisberger has two years left on his contract, which is the time when the Steelers usually sign their quarterback to a new deal. The Steelers have every intention of doing that with Roethlisberger as everyone from team president Art Rooney II to general manager Kevin Colbert has said they want Big Ben to play his entire career in Pittsburgh.

The timing couldn’t be better for the Steelers to sign Roethlisberger sooner rather than later.

His cap hit for 2014 is a projected $18.9 million, and the Steelers could lower that number with a new deal while also not having to backload what would probably be at least a five-year contract for Roethlisberger.

They could give Roethlisberger a hefty signing bonus and healthy base salaries in the first three years of the deal with the cap expected to rise in large chunks from now until 2016. That would allow them to pay their franchise quarterback without putting themselves in a precarious cap situation near the end of his deal by backloading it or later restructuring it, something they have done with Roethlisberger’s current deal.

However the Steelers proceed with Roethlisberger the unexpected spike in the salary cap is huge for the organization in 2014 -- and beyond.