We all know by now that the Pittsburgh Steelers cap situation is pretty dire for next season. The team has $202 million committed to only thirty four players. With the salary cap possibly going as low as $175 million, Pittsburgh has some major work to do. With that in mind, here is a look at who the top candidates for potential Steelers cap casualties in 2021:
1. Joe Haden – Cap Savings $13 million
We predicted this one a few weeks ago when it was announced Haden would miss several games with the COVID-19 virus. Has Joe Haden played his last game for the Steelers?
Joe Haden will turn 32 this April. That’s ancient in corner back years. Haden remains a serviceable player, but he is no longer an elite coroner. Unfortunately his $15.5 cap hit is that of a Pro-Bowl caliber player. For a team this deep in cap jail, a thirteen million in savings will be too hard to pass up.
2. Maurkice Pouncey – Cap Savings $8 million
Maurkice Pouncey may make this decision for the Steelers. There have been several rumors that Pittsburgh’s center is ready to retire. https://steelersnow.com/report-steelers-c-maurkice-pouncey-50-50-on-retiring/
Whether its through his choice or the Steelers, Maurkice Pouncey will be among the first cap casualties on this team. His play on the field has been in steep decline for years now. There’s no way the team can afford to bring him back at this price.
3. Vance McDonald – Cap Savings $5 million
We are not really sure what happened to Vance McDonald. His athleticism has completely disappeared over the last two seasons, and so has his production. The Steelers have a five million dollar option that they are almost assuredly going to pass on. Kevin Colbert will have tight end high on his draft wish list this April.
4. Vince Williams – Cap Savings $4 million
Yet another Steelers player earning good money, but being on the wrong side of thirty. In this case it’s not so much that Vince Williams is declining. It is more to the fact the Steelers have a younger, cheaper option in Robert Spillane. If the team had more cap space, there’s little argument Vince would be back. That’s not the case however, and we may have seen the last of him in a Steelers uniform.
5. Ben Roethlisberger – Cap Savings $19 million
This is the big decision for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Ben Roethlisberger would be the toughest decision of all as a Steelers cap casualty. Cutting him saves the team nineteen million under the cap. It also leaves them with a rather large hole in the roster. The Steelers will be very reluctant to make this move, but they may not have much choice. The prospect of keeping his $41 million cap hit if the salary cap ceiling goes any less than $198 million is daunting to say the least. Expect some heavy contract restructuring at the very least.
We are very much in favor of this move as we discuss in our “Fixing the Steelers” series. Fixing the Steelers Step Two: Cuts, Keeps, and Extensions