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Monday, December 23, 2013

Tomlin special edition and other stuff

Before I get into the Tomlin press conference today, I was questioned on why I thought the Steelers offseason cap problems were an easy fix:

Here's the breakdown.

Pittsburgh has 43 players under contract for next season at $131 million and change. The cap is expected to be between $126 and $127 million.

The first order of business will be to release Levi Brown at a savings of $6.25 million. That's perhaps the easiest cap cut in the history of cap cuts. That move alone puts the Steelers under the 2014 cap.

But wait, that means they'll only have 42 players under contract. OK.

A conventional restructure of Lawrence Timmons' contract, turning his base salary into bonus money would be an additional savings of $3.9 million. They could also do the same with Antonio Brown and pick up another $3.9 million.

In the matter of three moves, we just trimmed about $14.5 million off the cap, with the only release being a player who's never played a down for the Steelers.

The Steelers have no restricted free agents this season, so they won't have to worry about clearing space for any tender offers.

They can also gain further money by extending Ben Roethlisberger's contract.

In this case, you offer Roethlisberger a six-year deal - in reality four new years since he's still got two remaining - at between $100 and $110 million with a $30 million bonus.

Now, on this, I'm using cap expert Ian Whetstone's numbers. So in this case, you lower his base salary in 2014 to $2.1 million, which would shave another $4 million off your 2014 cap.

That brings the cap savings with now four offseason moves to $18.5 million without working up too much of a sweat.

BTW, Roethlisberger's future numbers, in this scenaro would be $5.6 in 2015, $14.8 in 2016, $15.5 in 2017, $17.2 in 2018 and $19.8 in 2019. His cap hit in 2015 would remain what it is now ($18.4) and going up to $20.8, $21.5, $23.2 and $19.8 in the final seasons.

They are big future numbers, but that's the going rate for a franchise quarterback who seems to be finding his groove in Todd Haley's offense.

And there are still some other moves the team could make - asking some vets to take pay cuts or releasing LaMarr Woodley after June 1 - that would free up even more cash.

This is why I don't feel the Steelers are in dire straights with their cap this year.

And now, on to Tomlin.

@ Tomlin said today that the injuries suffered by Terrence Garvin (knee sprain) and Emmanuel Sanders (lateral meniscus) aren't as serious as feared, but that both will be questionable to play against Cleveland.

@ Tomlin was grilled extensively on his clock management at the end of Sunday's game.

Here's what he had to say:

"I just had a concern of kneeling under the circumstances with the weather conditions being what they were. [Mason] Crosby, their kicker, had a kick blocked earlier on that end of the field. And to be honest with you, it wasn’t anything that we did. I just think it was a low-hit ball and you’re talking about a guy who’s been kicking great all year. I was concerned about the weather conditions from that standpoint. Also, when they utilized their last timeout, I was more comfortable with putting the defense on the field under those circumstances after getting a touchdown. If I had to do it all over again, I’d probably do it the same. Obviously, if I knew they were going to return the kickoff 70 yards, I’d probably have a different approach. But I don’t anticipate them doing that, although they did."

@ Le'Veon Bell was named the Steelers rookie of the year on Tuesday, while cornerback Ike Taylor won The Chief Award.

Bell was a no-brainer despite more competition than usual. Jarvis Jones and Vince Williams have both started the majority of the team's games this season at linebacker, while safety Shamarko Thomas has seen significant time, especially early in the season, in the pass defense as well as being a solid special teams contributor.

Taylor has had some rough patches to this season, though that will happen when you're matching up against the other team's best receiver  on a consistent basis. The Steelers scrapped that plan after their last meeting with Cleveland, when Taylor struggled with Josh Gordon, and he's responded with better overall play.

Throughout it all, however, Taylor has remained accessible to the media - win or lose, good game or bad, which is what The Chief Award is all about.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the cap response.

You meant 14.05 trimmed, but really is 9-10 million under the cap at that point.

You seem to have ignored the 11.2 million of unallocated bonus money from Ben's existing contract, you can't just make the 5.6 in 2014 and 2015 disappear. It makes lowering Bens 2014 cap number very difficult.

Any saving from woodley post June 1 should be saved and applie to 2015 when their would be 8 mil in dead space.

So I still think 10 mil in cap space leaves us in a terrible position when we need to sign Worrilds, we only have 1 WR with more than 10 NFL catches under contract, we need a starting FS.

Dale Lolley said...

As I said, there are other moves they can make as well. Ask Ike to take a pay cut, etc.

Will Allen at FS wouldn't be any worse than Clark has been.

Anonymous said...

Of course there are plenty of other moves they can make... But that's what makes it a difficult offseason... Naming a couple of moves without putting the entire picture on the table doesn't show how "easy" it is.

Dale Lolley said...

It's much easier than last season, which was a tough one. They HAD to cut Willie Colon and James Harrison.
They would have preferred to keep Harrison, in particular.

I don't think they'll HAVE to cut anyone this season unless they choose to go in another direction.

Anonymous Brian said...

I say that if the pro-TD folks say that the subsequent kickoff return justifies the TD decision, then Suisham's successful extra point justifies the kneel-and-FG theory. :)

Anyway it still bugs me - I need more of a life - that Tomlin seems to think it a no-brainer that seven at 1:25 was safer than three at :10.

Even though it's all water under the bridge, as Walter said after a bowling alley flare-up.

Kudos to Tomlin, Ben / Haley, etc. for keeping them fighting. Wouldn't have thought week 17 would potentially mean something. (Also thank the AFC for being mediocre!)

Too bad the Chiefs have nothing to play for. I always thought Chase Daniel could be pretty good, though, so maybe the Chargers will choke and the other three games will go Steelers' way?

Anonymous said...

"Lets keep doing what got us in this mess" is not a rational response to a problem. Doing it to keep a declining 8-8 team together is borderline insanity.

Dale Lolley said...

I don't see a declining team. I see a team that is playing a lot of young players that is 7-4 since an 0-4 start.

Anonymous said...

The Steelers need four games to go their way this Sunday: the Steelers beating the Browns, the Bengals beating the Ravens, the Jets being the Dolphins and the Chiefs beating the Chargers. From a mathematical perspective, there are 16 various outcomes of these games, so the odds are 1 in 16 that the Steelers make the playoffs. Add in that all the teams the Steelers need to win have no motivation to win, with a slightly remote scenario for the Bengals, while all the teams the Steelers need to lose have the motivation of making the playoffs. Games went the Steelers way last weekend, but the odds are remote that the Steelers make the playoffs.

Anonymous said...

Really enjoyed the cap stuff, can't find that kind of readable analysis many places.

Bengals definitely, definitely want to beat the Ravens.

Tannehill is beat-up and likely hurt; he took a beating all season and it's catching up w/ him. He's looking like Roethlisberger from years past or Steve McNair towards the end of his career. Dolphins aren't a lock to win.

I think Chiefs v Chargers is the likely spoiler.

I'd take Allen as a one-year stopgap if RC is done. The defense played great when he subbed for Polamalu last year. Even if they draft a FS in 2014, probably wouldn't want him starting.

Anonymous said...

"I don't see a declining team. I see a team that is playing a lot of young players that is 7-4 since an 0-4 start."

Crazy me ... I see a team that needs a win Sunday to avoid finishing even worse than our 8-8 record from last season. And that 8-8 followed two 12-4 seasons. That's practically the definition of declining.

Another good definition of declining is when you have to retire players that never got beat out ... Clark, Ike, and Keisel, for example.

Then again, maybe we should just re-sign and/or restructure those guys too, since Dick LeBeau doesn't think that age has any bearing on performance, and future cap space is no object.

Anonymous said...

"Add in that all the teams the Steelers need to win have no motivation to win, with a slightly remote scenario for the Bengals, while all the teams the Steelers need to lose have the motivation of making the playoffs."

I don't know...the teams have a chance to knock a divisional rival out of the playoffs. I think that is a nice movtivation. The game that worries me is Chiefs-Chargers because I believe Reid has said he is resting his starters.

"Crazy me ... I see a team that needs a win Sunday to avoid finishing even worse than our 8-8 record from last season. And that 8-8 followed two 12-4 seasons. That's practically the definition of declining."

You don't see a difference between an 8-8 team that ended the season on a losing streak (it was what 2-6?) and an 8-8 team that ends the season going 8-4?

I feel better about this team now than after the loss to the Vikings (where I felt they were the worst in the NFL - even worse than the Jaguars).

Anonymous said...

I disagree with Mr. Lolley's assessment of the cap situation - I truly believe it is a nightmare that needs fixing. First his beginning numbers are incorrect - their cap number for 2014 is $135.9 million - he is missing the $4.5million in dead money from players currently not on the team. I also believe they need to stop the easy restructures that got them into this mess - that process is like using your credit card - eventually you have to pay. I believe they need to take whatever pain they need to to get under the cap for 2015. This includes cutting Woodley, Brown and Taylor out right and asking Polomalu and Miller to take pay cuts or they should be cut. Then use every draft pick on Defense.

Anonymous said...

Same original Cap question guy...
There's a difference between "hard decisions" as it pertains to individual players, and Hard Decisions as it pertains to a roster much much more in flux.

You have a lot more contributors hitting free agency (Sanders, Cotchery, Worrilds, Keisel, Clark, Woods, Velasco, Wallace, Dwyer, Jones, Allen, Whimper, DJohnson).

You have deteriorating play from high cap hit players (Ike, Woodley, Pouncey).

You have a much more difficult extension with Ben than you led on (11.2 in remaining bonus allocation)

And then most importantly, you have a few young horses that are at the ideal time to lock up to mid range/mid term deals (Worrilds, Cortez, Heyward)... sure, you can wait on Cortez and Heyward, but it will only cost you more next year.

Last year, there were some tough choices in terms of Harrison and taking Colon's dead money in 2014. But that was essentially it... there weren't huge starter holes to fill on the roster, and there weren't upcoming youngsters to make up front calls on. And there wasn't a monster QB extension to handle.

Dale Lolley said...

I'm just telling you what I'm hearing. The Steelers don't think their situation is as dire as it was last year. But hey, some guy who is such a cap expert that he posts anonymously certainly knows the situation better than the guys who are managing it.

I would disagree with the statement that Pouncey is in decline. Cripes, he's 24 years old and had his knee taken out on a freak play by a teammate. That's decline?

Ike Taylor will be very open to taking a paycut to stay. Doesn't want to play anywhere else. And I don't see that changing. He's very loyal to the organization. And they showed loyalty to him when his first contract was up. They offered him better than the going rate for a corner of his accomplishments at that point.

Finally, the cap situation this year is much different than last year because of this. They have very few players under contract beyond 2014. They can pick and choose what extensions they want now. Last year, they had to let Wallace and Lewis walk because they couldn't afford to tie up any more long-term money. Now, that is not the issue that it was.

kyle said...

If you go to and use the Steelers cap calculator you can see that the situation isn't as rough as it was last year.

I didn't even do any of the extensions or other stuff, just cuts. If you cut Levi Brown and David Snow (very likely), Chris Carter (possibly), and make Woodley a June 1 cut then the Steelers are 7.6 million under the cap.

The question from those cuts is are they going to cut Woodley. Of course, none of us know what is going to happen but I would be very surprised if Woodley's cap hit next year doesn't change via some means (cut, pay cut, restructure).

And if you're worried about the team extending cap hits out and "getting into the same mess" remember this: They did that with a lot of starters from a multiple championship team. The extensions we are most likely to see this offseason are Roethlisberger, Timmons, and A. Brown. Ben is having arguably his greatest statistical season, Timmons is a tackling machine this year, and Brown just broke the franchise receiving record.

The young guys they might do new contracts with aren't going to break the bank either. Cortez and Heyward aren't getting top 10 money at their positions (outside chance for Heyward if you consider top 10 just from 3-4 teams by default). Worilds could get a big deal but definitely not what Woodley got.

Patrick said...

A. Brown got his extension last year. He might get a restructure for cap purposes but there is no way he gets another exension a year later.

kyle said...

I believe they've done it before but yeah, a restructure is probably more likely. I just lumped him in with Ben and Timmons (who might just restructured too).

Dale Lolley said...

As I mentioned, a simple restructure on Brown saves $3.9 million against the cap. And, given his age and production, it's a no-brainer.

Anonymous said...

Merry Christmas Dale to you and yours, Thank you for all the work you do for all of us through out the year, Have a safe and Happy New Year ! Dave W. in Las Vegas