Some could say the 2014 season begins in eight days for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
That would be March 11, when the offseason officially begins.
If that is the case the Steelers need to get busy and do so soon.
The team does have some good news in the fact that the salary cap went up so they only have to shed roughly $5.75 million to get in compliance and also clear enough room so they can sign free agents.
Now that the ceiling has been set at $133 million for 2014, they should have more flexibility with the cap rising $10 million from last year.
But they have to get busy this week.
What do the Steelers have to do?
First of all, releasing offensive tackle Levi Brown will save the Steelers $6.25 million and put them under the cap for 2014.
Cornerback Ike Taylor is a candidate for either a release of a big pay cut. Given the fact that the Steelers are so thin at the corner spot, it may make some sense to bring back the declining Taylor, but it would have to come at a huge discount.
Then there is an extension for quarterback Ben Roethlisberger that likely needs to be done sometime this week. If completed, it not only assures that the Steelers will have No. 7 under center for the rest of his career, but it will save them a ton of money against the cap in the short term.
Next on the list are restructuring a few deals, which 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. Then there is Troy Polamalu, who either needs to get an extension himself or needs to be released.
The Steelers must figure out whether to keep Woodley, who has a cap hit of close to $14 million this year.
That all leads to the big decision on Worilds.
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. He may be the most sought-after pass rusher on the open market and if he gets the chance to test free agency, it is likely he will get an offer the Steelers can’t compete with.
Steelers’ general manager Kevin Colbert will definitely be a busy guy over the course of the next few weeks.
He needs to get started soon or he will be playing catch up the rest of the offseason.