December 30, 2012; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker James Harrison (92) reacts as he greets Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Cribbs (left) at mid-field after their game at Heinz Field. The Pittsburgh Steelers won 24-10. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Examining the Steelers salary-cap situation for 2013

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The Pittsburgh Steelers enter the offseason needing to fill holes in several areas, but as has been the norm the past few seasons, don’t expect them to do much in free agency.

ESPN’s John Clayton recently took a look at the salary-cap situation for every team in the league and it is not good news for the Steelers.

The Steelers are projected to be $10.8 million over the cap and just like last season, it will force them to restructure contracts or release players. The Steelers are one of 10 teams who are over the projected 2013 cap.

Dec 2, 2012; Baltimore, MD, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace (17) prior to the game against the Baltimore Ravens at M

The others are: the Jets ($19.4 million), Cowboys ($18.2 million), Saints ($14.7 million), Panthers ($11.8 million), Giants ($4.7 million), Raiders ($4.5 million), Redskins ($4 million), Lions ($1.1 million) and Cardinals ($723,000).

Their AFC North counterparts aren’t in such bad shape.

The Cincinnati Bengals have the most projected cap room in 2013 with $55.1 million, and the team with the second-most cap room in the NFL is the Cleveland Browns, who are projected to have $48.9 million.

There are only five teams in the NFL projected to have over $30 million of cap space for the upcoming offseason, with Indianapolis ($46 million), Miami ($35.8 million) and Tampa Bay ($31.3 million) being the others.

The Steelers biggest rival, the Baltimore Ravens, aren’t in bad shape with $15.7 million in projected cap space, but $14 million of that may have to go toward the franchise tag on quarterback Joe Flacco, if they can’t come to terms on a long-term deal.

There are only so many contracts that the Steelers can restructure, as they have done that already with several big deals, including Ben Roethlisberger’s.

Having said that, it looks more likely that the team could end up releasing veteran players such as James Harrison who have large cap figures for the upcoming season. It also doesn’t bode that well for unrestricted free agents such as Keenan Lewis, Mike Wallace, Rashard Mendenhall and others.

Keep in mind that the Steelers will also have to create cap space in order to sign their draft picks in this year’s draft.

So if there were any thoughts of a quick fix or upgrading at several key positions, those thoughts are probably out the window.

Given the cap situation, the Steelers are going to have to make some very tough calls when it comes to personnel for next year’s team.

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Tags: James Harrison Mike Wallace NFL Free Agency Pittsburgh Steelers Rashard Mendenhall

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