Before you know it March will be here and NFL teams will be busy attempting to form their rosters for the 2014 season.
With that being said, the Pittsburgh Steelers have a lot of work to do between now and the middle of next month.
Yesterday I looked at the fact that the team seems willing to let outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley walk and likely eat $14 million of dead money, depending on when they let him go.
But that is just a start as Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert has many more decisions to make.
Creative maneuvering to get below the salary cap has long been the Steelers M.O. and this offseason will be no different. The Steelers are projected to be over $10 million above the salary cap and Colbert must get a lot done in a short time frame.
Colbert recently told local reporters that the effort will include “terminations, restructurings, and extensions.”
However, who gets let go and who gets restructured and extended is something Colbert must decide in the next couple of weeks.
In terms of terminations, cutting tackle Levi Brown would free up $6 million immediately. Dumping cornerback Ike Taylor would open up $7 million in cap space while cutting safety Troy Polamalu would free up $8.25 million, although all signs point to Polamalu being brought back.
Polamalu could be a candidate for a restructured deal as well, which would free up some money in the short term.
They also must sign quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to a new deal.
Roethlisberger has a cap number of $18.8 million for 2014 and is the most likely Steeler to get a new long-term deal, especially since it’ll be harder to limit his cap hit with only one year remaining on his current deal. For every dollar of his $12.1 million base salary that’s converted to a bonus in a new contract, 50 cents would apply to 2014 and the other 50 would apply to 2015.
If they wait a year, which is unlikely, they would just be hurting themselves in the long run.
The problem is that Big Ben is likely to command a yearly salary of $20 million per year, which means the Steelers will have to get even more creative with some of their potential moves.
Colbert’s top priority is re-signing outside linebacker Jason Worilds, before he even looks at other team’s free agents and the 2014 NFL Draft.
To do so, Colbert has to get busy pretty soon.