After the painful goodbyes of last week, the Steelers now prepare for the next step in the 2012 offseason - making their final preparations for free agency.
After last week's releases and the previous restructures the team did in the previous weeks, the Steelers are approximately $12 to $14 million under the salary cap - depending on what it finally comes in at.
The Steelers must now tender their offers to restricted free agents. That will include a first-round tender of $2.742 million for wide receiver Mike Wallace and the low tender of $1.26 million to guards Ramon Foster and Doug Legursky, both of who were undrafted, corner Keenan Lewis (third), safety Ryan Mundy (sixth) and tight end David Johnson (seventh).
That will eat up some $9 million of their newfound cap space.
Offering the low tender for Foster and Legursky is a gamble, perhaps even more so than making a first-round tender for Wallace.
With the release of Chris Kemoeatu, the Steelers have no other guards with NFL experience on their roster. Should another team decide to make an offer to Legursky or Foster that the Steelers cannot or do not want to match, they would receive no compensation.
The team does still have some cap wiggle room should it have to clear space to match an offer for Wallace or either guard.
Nose tackle Casey Hampton, who is scheduled to make $5.89 million, could be asked to take a pay cut or be released. The Steelers could also trim offensive tackle Jonathan Scott ($2.2 million) or safety Will Allen ($1.28 million).
A couple of things we do now know after last week's cuts is that A. this team values Jerricho Cotchery over Ward and will make a strong push to re-sign him, and B. Guard and inside linebacker have become the undoubted biggest needs in the draft.
The Steelers have enough money under the cap to make a strong offer for Cotchery, though, again, if they have to match any offers to their own restricted free agents, obviously, some other cuts would have to be made.
Resigning Cotchery would also preclude the team from making a strong pitch for any of their unrestricted free agents, most notably corner Will Gay or running back Mewelde Moore.