2014 pay: Spaeth made a base salary of $900,000, and his contract counted $1,037,500 against the salary cap.
By the numbers: Spaeth caught three passes for 46 yards and a touchdown last season. The eighth-year veteran has caught four passes for 57 yards and two touchdowns in 20 games since re-signing with the Steelers in 2013.
The case for keeping him: Spaeth is an excellent blocker who teams with Heath Miller in the two-tight end sets that the Steelers like to use. The former third-round draft pick is one of those players who does important work that doesn’t show up on box scores, and the Steelers should be able to bring him back at a reasonable price.
The case for letting him walk: Spaeth has never caught more than 17 passes in a season and offers little value as a receiver at this point of his career. The 6-foot-7, 260-pounder is also 31 years old, and the Steelers have to get younger at tight end.
Prediction: The Steelers should add a young tight end to compete with Rob Blanchflower, a 2014 seventh-round draft pick who spent last season on the practice squad. But they should also bring back Spaeth for another season. There won’t be much of a market for him in free agency, and the Steelers will get a cost-effective deal done with Spaeth.