With the start of the NFL new year eight days away, it has been largely quiet on the Steelers’ front.
Expect that to change this week as the Steelers have to shed roughly $5.75 million to get in compliance with the salary cap and also clear enough room so they can sign free agents.
Now that the spending ceiling has been set at $133 million for 2014, the Steelers don’t have to work the salary cap based on projections, and they should have more flexibility with the cap rising $10 million from last year.
Releasing offensive tackle Levi Brown will save the Steelers $6.25 million and put them under the cap for 2014, albeit with more moves to make.
Cornerback Ike Taylor, whose base salary in 2014 is $7 million, is a candidate for a significant pay cut, and the Steelers could cut ties with the 11th-year veteran. Given how thin they are at cornerback, it would make sense for the Steelers to bring Taylor back for one more season, assuming the two sides can reach common ground on a number that works for both of them.
The Steelers could also restructure the contracts of a couple of players by converting base salary into signing bonus money that can be spread out as far as cap hits over the length of the contract. Re-signing players going into the final year of their contract is another way to clear more cap room this year.
Tight end Heath Miller, whose cap number is $9.47 million in 2014, is a prime candidate for a long-term deal.
Whatever combination the Steelers employ to clear cap room, look for them to start making moves this week.
Here a few morning links:
Jason Worilds tops the list of the 21 Steelers players who can become free agents on March 11. If the Steelers don’t re-sign the outside linebacker prior to the start of free agency, it may be difficult to keep him in Pittsburgh. The reason: Worilds, who turned 26 today, will be one of the top pass-rushers on the open market.
Wide receiver Plaxico Burress is eyeing a return to the playing field after missing last season with a torn rotator cuff. Burress, who will be a free agent on March 11, doesn’t appear to be in the Steelers’ plans but he doesn’t want an injury to bring an end to his career.
Alabama’s C.J. Mosley didn’t generate much buzz at the NFL scouting combine as he only participated in a handful of the physical tests and did not run the 40-yard dash. He is still expected to be a first-round pick – and a player who could interest the Steelers – and Mosley received a strong endorsement from Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban.