Anyone else noticing a pattern developing? The Pittsburgh Steelers have been on a two year contract kick as of late. Just about every player signed this off-season was signed to no more than a two year deal:
Daniel McCullers – 2 years/$2.75 million
Mark Barron – 2 years/$12 million
Anthony Chickillo – 2 years/$8 million
Donte Moncrief – 2 years/$9 million
Ramon Foster – 2 years/$8.2 million
Eli Rogers – 2 years/$3.75 million
Tyson Alualu – 2 years/$5.75 million
Jordan Berry – 2 years/$3.7 million
Steve Nelson – 3 years/$25.5 million ($2.5 dead cap charge in year 2021)
Maurkice Pouncey – 2 year (extension)/$22 million ($3 dead cap 2021)
Ok so you say just a coincidence then? Dig a little deeper to see how many other contracts that are expiring in two years and it get more curious:
Ju Ju Smith Schuster
Drill down even further to see how many contracts have reasonable cap hits if the Steelers wanted to cut certain players after the 2020 season:
Vance McDonald – $727K dead cap hit 2021
Vince Williams – $3 million dead cap 2021
Roosevelt Nix – $437k dead cap hit 2021
Finally, how about the players up in 2019?
Besides last year’s draft class, the team has only six substantial contacts on the books for 2021. Four of them can be cut for a total less than $10 million total. The two outliers in all this are defensive tackle Stephon Tuitt, and kicker Chris Boswell. Tuitt is signed through 2022, and his cap hit would be six million if cut in 2021. Boswell on the other hand isn’t even guaranteed to make it on the team this upcoming season. A poor pre-season may get him released before next season even begins.
Ok so what gives? One thing to keep in mind is the NFL collective bargaining agreement ends after the 2020 season. The Pittsburgh Steelers could very well be clearing the books to better react to what the future salary structure will become.
Another possibility is a rebuild is on the way……soon. Are the Steelers prepared to give Ben Roethlisberger one more crack at the Super Bowl, and then move on? It certainly looks that way. Pittsburgh’s starting quarterback has yet to have his contract extended. There is still plenty of time for this to happen of course. The curious part is why is it taking so long? Most believed a Roethlisberger contract extension would be done by now to create space for incoming free agents. Another option would be for the team to go year to year with Roethlisberger using the franchise tag.
The Steelers may very well be planning on rebuilding around a core of TJ Watt, Ju Ju Smith-Schuster, James Conner, David DeCastro, and Cam Heyward. Taking those players along with last years draft class and the upcoming draft to start the next chapter in Steelers history. Not to mention all the cap space that would be available to add even more talent. One thing is for sure, the Pittsburgh Steelers are positioning themselves for big changes in the near future. This team could look completely different two years from now.