The calm before the storm has become deafening in its quietness as the Steelers decide who should come and who should go over the next month before free agency begins at 4 p.m. March 12.
The Steelers have a whopping list of 18 unrestricted free agents. We’ve debated that high and low for several weeks. Today, let’s take a look at the restricted free agents. With the Steelers projected to be about $14 million over the salary cap, they need to make some important choices on whether to keep players, reduce contracts or release players.
They also must decide what, if any, tenders they place on their restricted free agents. Those tenders will count against their salary cap, a reason they must not only get under their estimated $122 million cap by March 12, but get under it far enough to accommodate the tenders they will offer their RFA players.
There has been no official release of what the RFA numbers will be, but we’ll go with what the NFL Network’s Albert Breer reported last month: $2.879 million for first-round compensation, $2.023 million for second-round compensation and $1.323 million for original draft choice compensation.
Here are the Steelers restricted free agents:
Jonathan Dwyer, Jeremy Kapinos, Steve McLendon, Isaac Redman, Emmanuel Sanders, Stevenson Sylvester.
What, if any, tenders do you give them?
None for punter Kapinos, who was waived injured last year after back surgery and then automatically was re-assigned to the Steelers injured reserve when no one claimed or signed him.
Let’s start with the two running backs. Since Redman was not drafted, there would be no compensation required for the lower tender, which would only give the Steelers the right of first refusal if a team signed him. Dwyer was a sixth-round pick, so the Steelers would receive a sixth-round choice for him in return at that lower pick.
Do they want to tie up $2.646 million in two backup running backs? Do they give Redman a $2.023 million tender in order to pretty much guarantee that no team signs him?
It’s a tough call complicated by the fact the Steelers not only do not have a No. 1 back, they don’t have many backs at all after cutting Chris Rainey. They have Baron Batch and that’s pretty much it as far as runners go.
Guessing here, that they give both backs the low tender, although it’s possible they would give a tender only to Redman.
You would think that Steve McLendon has to get the No. 2 tender at $2.023 million. He is the heir apparent to Casey Hampton, he wasn’t drafted and he showed plenty enough that other teams would be interested at no cost to them other than the money they pay him. However, that’s more than they paid Hampton last season and once they give him that, it’s a starting point in negotiations for a new contract. He will receive a tender, and it could be the lower one, with the Steelers rolling the dice that the right of first refusal would be enough to keep him.
Emmanuel Sanders is a no-brainer. They will give him the lower offer because he would bring third-round compensation as a draft pick in that round. No one signed Mike Wallace last year for similar compensation as a RFA.
Stevenson Sylvester also should be a no-brainer with a low tender as a fifth-round compensation. However, that’s a lot of money to pay a special teams player. With their injuries (Sean Spence) and age (Larry Foote) at inside linebacker, it would seem they almost will be forced to do so. But they could bring back Foote at veteran minimum, allow Sylvester to become unrestricted by not tendering him and re-sign him at a lower number. It’s not as if he would be Jack Lambert hitting the open market.
It would seem, then, that some of the group of restricted free agents could join the group of unrestricted free agents on March 12. And, as with their UFA players, the Steelers will not overpay them.
--- YOU: I can't help but wonder if the Steelers have a heir apparent for Dick LBeau. Although fairly green, I like the resume of Carnell Lake. He is the only person I know besides maybe Darren Perry that both played and coached under LeBeau's system. As an outstanding LB for UCLA, excellent long time safety for the Steelers, and his ability to play soundly at cornerback in Rod Woodson's absence, his position experience is unparalleled. The product on the field with the injuries to Troy, Clark and the emergence of Keenan Lewis is solid proof. The only drawback is what I mentioned above-he's still new. Your thought's please.
ME: Linebackers coach Keith Butler would be next in line when LeBeau finally hangs ‘em up. It’s one reason Butler turned down the Indianapolis Colts’ offer to become their defensive coordinator last year. Lake has done a nice job with the secondary.
--- YOU: I don't know why but I have a feeling the Steelers are going to re-sign RM. I know he lacks commitment, and that is an issue, but I still think he is a good back. Don't you think that if he is able to display a renewed commitment, the Steelers would want to resign him, especially if they are going to employ a zone blocking scheme next year? Say a year with a ton of incentives, and would RM want to come back I guess is the biggest question. What do you think?
ME: Rashard Mendenhall does have his supporters in the organization, but not enough for them to bring him back.
--- YOU: I keep reading fans trashing both Woodley and Polamalu and labeling them as over the hill.
Isn't that crazy talk? Woodley was injured most of the season and didn't benefit from a healthy Harrison when he wasn't. He is still a beast, in my opinion. Polamalu has been injured and sure you lose a step or two as you get older, but I swear the last two games of last season, I saw a Polamalu I hadn't seen in a couple of years. His football IQ is still intact, and if (and I know it's a big if) he remains healthy, there is no reason to think he will not make an impact in 2013.
So, with that said, do you agree that there is no way either one gets cut, and that people, as they tend to at this time of year, are overreacting? I'm not even sure they should cut Harrison. I think he is a better option than what's out there.
ME: I agree that neither likely will be cut. I don’t think people are overreacting either. Woodley was not hurt much of the year. While Kevin Colbert defended his weight after the season, others privately felt Woodley did not put enough work into last season. On the other hand, Polamalu was hurt much of the season and you are correct that late in the year he was at the top of his game. However, they’re paying him to be at the top of his game for more than that. At 32, his many injuries may not be behind him.
--- YOU: Why are the Steelers facing these problems with the salary cap? They are $14 million over, we all know that. But what salaries are driving up the cap and is this a matter of bad financial management? Or was it a matter of a number of good players needing to get paid around the same time (7, 43, 56, 94, 84, 92, 83)? I know cap problems aren't unheard of, but Steelers have had it pretty bad these past 2 years.
ME: The Steelers were among the last teams to embrace restructuring contracts as a way to create cap room and push those numbers into future years. Once they embraced that move, however, they went all in. The more they restructured and pushed ahead like plowing snow from the street into a pile, the more that pile loomed the next season and they would have to clear some more. Part of the problem was that under the new CBA with new TV contracts negotiated, each team’s cap remains relatively flat until the year 2015. Part of the idea with restructuring was to push the cap numbers into the next season and the cap would rise and take care of much of it. That hasn’t happened the past few seasons.
--- YOU: I just read the chat transcript and I have no idea how you deal with some of these question without losing your marbles. For people who consider themselves fans, you would think they'd know a bit more about the team they root for... Don't they know the Steelers never make a splash in free agency even when they are under the CAP? On behalf of fellow Steelers fan... I am sorry.... Not all of us are that ignorant.... PS: What do you think about MJD in a Steelers uniform in 2013? yes.. it's sarcasm....
ME: I swear some of my chat questions do not come from PG Plus members, who I’ve found generally to be more enlightened than the general population of fans. I do know the cliché of there are no stupid questions, only stupid answers, so I try not to offer the latter when asked any question. I love/hate that chat format, by the way, because it requires quick, shallow answers as opposed to this format, where I can actually think about a question and perhaps even perform some research before I provide an answer. That Maurice Jones-Drew question was asked of my many times, as was one about Steven Jackson, mostly through Twitter. And there’s an aside right there, Twitter. I’ve learned to avoid answering too many questions on that social media forum, although I get them there more than anywhere else. It’s a losing proposition because the same question will pop up even after I answer one because people did not see it, or it sometimes provokes reactions from others that I’m hating the Steelers and I’m Mr. Negative if I, for example, say the Steelers would not be interested in Steven Jackson.
|< Prev||Next >|
You must be a registered user to post. Commenting system instructions