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  1. #1
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    Steeler restructures---committing cap suicide



    It looks like as many as 5-6 Steelers will be restructuring their contracts to get below the 3/12 cap deadline.

    The names I've heard taking restructures: Roethlisberger, Timmons, Woodley, and Antonio Brown. James Harrison is likely going to be cut and asked to return at a lesser salary.

    IMO, this is the absolute best thing for the rest of the AFC North. The Steelers are no longer a Super Bowl contending team. The core of players that they have still has some good players in it, but they simply do not have the depth or the youth needed to overtake the four elite AFC franchises or the two emerging ones (Cincy and Indy). If they can't get out of the first round of the playoffs/into the playoffs for two straight years when their core was in their late 20s/early 30s, how can they expect to do it now with essentially the same core now two years older? They needed to add better, younger talent around that core, and instead they just keep robbing Peter to pay Paul. By doing this, they are basically anchoring themselves to the same 10-12 aging players, without having the cap room to attract any younger free agents. This philosophy has taken them from SB contenders to non-factor in the short time of two years. Instead of moving on from their aging vets and replacing them with younger, cheaper, higher-upsided talent (a la the Ravens) they have for half a decade now continued to pay these guys over market value to keep them in Pittsburgh. The only way for the Steelers to get back in the mix is to blow up their roster and rebuild around guys like Timmons/Big Ben/DeCastro/Pouncey and hope they are back in the mix by 2014 or 2015. Instead, they are going to pin their hopes of the future to a bunch of overpaid 30 plusers.

    All the reports I'm seeing say on ESPN that these restructures will drop the Steelers down to $7.5 million OVER the cap. Frankly, I don't think that's correct, unless these restructures were enormous. Prior to any restructures, the Steelers were $23 million over the cap by my calculations. That would be roughly $4-5 million per restructure saved on 2013 just to get them down to $7 million. My guess is that the people who are giving these cap calculations weren't factoring in RFA tenders.

    More details below.




  2. #2
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    Re: Steeler restructures---committing cap suicide

    This offseason seems like a ton of restructures so far. It looks like teams are hedging their bets that the cap will go up drastically in 2015.

    Dallas, Pitt, etc.

    A lot of these guys just signed a deal last year and are already being restructured. Crazy.




  3. #3

    Re: Steeler restructures---committing cap suicide

    I'll believe that PIT is dead when I'm reading the autopsy.




  4. #4
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    Re: Steeler restructures---committing cap suicide

    Cap problems are always overstated. The Saints just did a bunch of restructures also to clear cap room.




  5. #5
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    Re: Steeler restructures---committing cap suicide

    The Steelers do this every year. Eventually they are going to get near the end of Ben's contract and end up with a crazy guaranteed number on a declining player. They must feel that they can win now and are willing to sacrifice the future to make it happen.
    He Who Dares.....Wins




  6. #6
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    Re: Steeler restructures---committing cap suicide

    Quote Originally Posted by GOTA View Post
    The Steelers do this every year. Eventually they are going to get near the end of Ben's contract and end up with a crazy guaranteed number on a declining player. They must feel that they can win now and are willing to sacrifice the future to make it happen.
    'win now' is indicated by their QB situation. they keep Leftwich (old) and Batch (older) and let Dixon go. wonder what they'll say if DD lights it up in Philly.
    they have no QB Of The Future so they'd better keep BBen upright...which hasn't happened here lately.
    Baltimore Ravens, 2012 NFL Champions!




  7. #7

    Re: Steeler restructures---committing cap suicide

    this is pretty much a proven method of not staying competitive year in year out. Its a proven method however to be a SB contender two out of every 3 years, which seems to be their priority. rather than be a playoff team every year (us) theyd rather put all their eggs in one basket every 3 years. Cant say it doesnt work for them, but i think its catching up now and this is likely to be a year of back to back non-playoffs which may change their tune.
    -JAB




  8. #8

    Re: Steeler restructures---committing cap suicide

    I'm usually of the opinion that reports of the Steelers' demise are generally overstated, however, aging stars with draft picks that haven't exactly panned out along with a cap problem of this magnitude doesn't exactly spell success.




  9. #9
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    Re: Steeler restructures---committing cap suicide

    I've never seen an organization so desperate to keep an aging, mediocre team together as the Steelers.




  10. #10
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    Re: Steeler restructures---committing cap suicide

    Read their message boards, the fans aren't happy about the players, their pay, and their age at a lot of places. Sorry I am in the boat that the Steelers are like Dracula, they keep coming back. But their future planning has been a puzzle to me. I feel like they think they are the team that beat us all those years ago and that formula will keep working. That their opponents like us are going to stand pat.

    How long have they ignored their line? Too long. Big Ben almost did get killed for real this year. If I am them, I'd start a new strategy, blow up the team. Ben's heroics are going to become more of a memory.

    If I was them holding on for one more run, I'd have not gone with Haley, worked on a more power run game, get a big back like Stephen Jackson, and revert to what we used to be, but this incarnation of the Steelers looks like it is heading to the shitter.




  11. #11

    Re: Steeler restructures---committing cap suicide

    I warned the OP much earlier in the offseason process that his reports of the death of the Steelers were greatly exaggerated, and I believe this pronouncement is similarly premature. Keep on proclaiming them dead while they methodically solve their problems as the Ravens founder around with their best player not under contract.

    The Steelers HAVE a "young core" in place to build around. Restructuring some of those contracts definitely pushes off the pain until future years, but they are betting on the cap increasing in future years as much as the Ravens did when they signed the Ngata, Webb, and Rice deals, all of which double or even triple in cap hits beginning in 2014. The anticipated Flacco contract will be much the same--huge cap hits in future years. Go look up the cap numbers for the restructured Woodley and Brown contracts. Those contracts were done very carefully with small bonus numbers in future years SPECIFICALLY to open up the possibility of restructures without causing too much harm. Woodley's cap hits in future years are right around the 13m mark. What's Suggs' cap number over the next 2 years? Right around 13m. No difference between the Steelers and Ravens there.

    The reality of the matter is simple: the Steelers have a franchise QB under contract for several years, with an extremely young, talented, and cheap OL to protect him. They have Antonio Brown and numerous young pieces on defense (Woodley, Timmons, Heyward all under 30) all under their control long-term with a few key older players who are still playing at a very high level (Ike Taylor one of the best CBs in football, Ryan Clark a top 10 FS, and Brett Keisel a top 10 5-tech DE).

    They draft well and give their draft picks time to develop. They WILL be a good team in 2013 if they avoid injuries, it's as simple as that. The Ravens were only 2 wins better than them in the regular season last year and got beaten at home by their 3rd string QB. People roundly mocked LeBeau for saying it could have been Pittsburgh instead of Baltimore last year, but he wasn't wrong. They got hit by the injury bug about as hard as we did (or maybe even a little harder), but didn't get as many breaks going their way. It's going to be a dogfight for the division again next year.




  12. #12
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    Re: Steeler restructures---committing cap suicide

    The main problem is that the Steelers have 11 players who are taking up roughly 85-87% of their total cap (prior to any restructures). That leaves $13-15% to be spread between the other 40 players under their "rule of 51". By my calculations, the Steelers top 11 players (referenced below) were making $106 million prior to these recent restructures.

    Roethlisberger (age 31 in 2013) $19.6 million in 2013- $8.4 in dead money remaining
    Harrison (age 35 in 2013) $10 million in 2013 - $5 million in dead money
    Ryan Clark (34) $4.8 million- $1.3 in dead money
    Antonio Brown (27)- $3.1 million-approx. $13.2 in future dead money- This was just restructured- I will get to this momentarily
    Lamarr Woodley (turns 29 in Nov)- $13.2 million in 2013- approx. $14.2 in future dead money
    Lawrence Timmons (27)- $5.9 million in 2013- $18.2 in future dead money- just restructured- will elaborate below
    Troy Polamalu (32)- $10.1 million in 2013- $5.3 in future dead money
    Willie Colon (30)- $7.6 million in 2013- $6.4 in future dead money
    Heath Miller (turns 31 in Oct)- $8 million in 2013- $4.6 in future dead money
    Ike Taylor (33)- $9.5 million in 2013- $6.4 million in dead money
    Bret Keisel (35)- $4.5 million in 2013- $1.8 in dead money

    So, even after the restructures to Timmons and Brown, the Steelers have $96.3 million tied up in these 11 players. That's 80% of the projected cap. That leaves them roughly $24 million to spread over the other 40 players.

    The restructures to Timmons/Brown saved roughly $9 million between those two players towards 2013, which is significant, and they are still in awful shape.

    If you take it a step further, Pouncey and DeCastro are making $4.3 combined next year, so now they have $100.6 tied up in 13 players.

    Redman and Dwyer are both RFAs. You have to imagine that both players, given their late round/undrafted status, will have to be offered a 2nd round RFA tender, because a Round-of-draft tender would make them goners to another team. Who wouldn't give up their 6th rounder to get Jonathan Dwyer? Both players will get RFA tenders around $2 million. Now their cap is at $104.6 through just 15 players. That leaves 36 players that they now have to pay with roughly $16 million.

    Suisham is on the hook for $1.7 million and Emmanuel Sanders is a RFA as well. Let's assume with him being a 3rd rounder that they offer a ROD RFA tender for $1.3 million. Sanders is a solid player worth keeping, but after 2013, where will the salary cap room to do so be found? There's another $3 million between those two. Now they have $107.6 tied up in 17 players. That leaves $13 million to be spread between 34 players ($382k per player) Obviously, that's not possible, as that puts you well below the league minimum.

    Recent draft picks Cam Heyward, Jason Worilds, Mike Adams, and Ziggy Hood combine to make $5.6 million between them. All four of these players are good values at their respective salaries. Yet, the Steelers might now struggle to find room to offer them anywhere near market value as they approach free agency, much like they are unable to with Mike Wallace. If you add the $5.6 million to the picture, the Steelers now have $113.2 tied up in those 21 players. That leaves roughly $7.5 million to be spread over the other 30 players who count under the "rule of 51". That's $250k per player, or roughly half of what the lowest player on your rule of 51 roster counts against your cap. We haven't even factored in other players currently on the roster who are making above $500k/year or any incoming rookies.




  13. #13

    Re: Steeler restructures---committing cap suicide

    Quote Originally Posted by LukeDaniel View Post
    The main problem is that the Steelers have 11 players who are taking up roughly 85-87% of their total cap (prior to any restructures). That leaves $13-15% to be spread between the other 40 players under their "rule of 51". By my calculations, the Steelers top 11 players (referenced below) were making $106 million prior to these recent restructures.
    Your research looks bulletproof and I think you're making a good case for your argument. It definitely sounds troublesome from a marginal value standpoint in a vacuum, but the only question I would raise is are those numbers really dissimilar from other teams? Are we to assume that the Ravens have a more even investment spread? Just anecdotally because I'm too lazy to run the numbers myself, I would doubt that's true.

    Even if the Ravens have a little more palatable number, say 10 players taking up 60% of the cap with 40% allocated to the remaining 40, how much difference does that really make? Draft picks are cheap, and if you depend on a core of expensive, elite players supported by a big pool of young first-contract players, isn't that just the model of franchise success, no matter how skewed the numbers might be?

    Quote Originally Posted by NCRAVEN View Post
    We watching the same time over the past couple of years?
    Note carefully what I said--young and talented OL, not necessarily productive at this point in their careers. The Steelers' OL is projected next year to look like this:

    LT-Gilbert LG-Beachum C-Pouncey RG-DeCastro RT-Adams

    Every starter on that line is 24 or younger and all but 1 is a first or second round pick. That's definitely young and talented, and the Steelers were never able to field that line last year because their OL was ravaged by injuries. The injury situation will regress to the mean next year and be better by default, so I strongly expect their OL to be MUCH improved.

    As for the young talent on their roster to build around... not much else I can say apart from what I already said. Antonio Brown is a very good receiver, Woodley is one of the league's best pass rushers when healthy, and Timmons is perhaps the best young ILB in the AFC. I've already highlighted how young their OL is, and they have numerous defensive draft picks (Cameron Heyward, Steve McLendon, Curtis Brown, Cortez Allen) who have played well in limited duty.

    I just don't think the Steelers are in the kind of trouble teams like Jacksonville, Oakland, etc. are. Those are teams without a franchise QB and with virtually no talent on the roster. The Steelers are way above that territory.




  14. #14
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    Re: Steeler restructures---committing cap suicide

    Let's get back to Timmons and Brown. I give the Steelers credit that these are the two players most worthy of restructures. They are both turning 27 this year and will be around for a while.

    With Antonio Brown, the Steelers took $3.85 million of his 2013 salary and converted it into a bonus prorated over the next 5 years. It is applied in increments of $770k from 2013-2017. This dropped his 2013 cap # from around $6.2 million down to $3.1 million. From 2013-2016, Brown's signing bonus dead money increased from $1.7 million to $2.47. In 2017, when Brown's last year of contract had no dead money, it now has $770k. I'm not totally in favor of restructures in most cases, but this is probably one of the more sensible ones I've seen, particularly by Steeler standards. Since Brown has 5 years remaining on his deal, you can move a decent amount of money without having the cap impact be that damaging.

    However, on a down side, Brown does now have $10.5 million in dead money heading forward, versus $7.5 before the restructure. His salary in 2015, when he's 29, is $8.5 million and in 2016, when he's 30, is $10.7. It's hard to say what future caps will look like, but those are high figures for a guy like Brown, who is a solid, productive WR, but not elite.

    Timmons is the same age as Brown, even though he was drafted in 2007 and Brown was drafted in 2010.

    His restructure was $4.5 million over 4 years with a roster bonus of $2.5 million. This dropped his 2013 cap # from $10.4 to $5.9 million. However, now the prorated portion of those two bonuses ($1.75 million per year) will be tacked on to his cap # for 2014,2015, and 2016. His cap cost those three years will be $11.8, $12.5, and $11.8. Timmons is probably the best player on the Steelers in my opinion, so this isn't an insane restructure, but it is pushing the limits of sanity a bit. He will have about $5 million of dead money in 2014 and 2015 and $3 million in 2016 (last year of his current contract). If Timmons keeps pace at his current high level of play, it's no big deal, but if his play drops a bit, the Steelers will be in a tough spot to cut him due to the $13 million in dead money.

    What I'm hearing on the Post Gazette's site is that Big Ben might convert as much as $9 million of his 2013 salary into a bonus to be spread in increments of $3 million/year over the remaining three years on his deal. This would drop his 2013 salary cap # from $19.6 to $13.6. But it would also take his 2014 cap # from $14.9 to $17.9 and his 2015 (when he's 33)from $14.4 to $17.4. Given his inability to stay on the field recently, that's a very unsound, risky gamble in my opinion.

    If you look at it this way....assuming the Steelers do restructure Ben as above, they now created an extra $5.3 million in dead money for 2014 and 2015 just between the restructures to Brown, Timmons, and Roethlisberger. This doesn't even count the $9.5 million/year that is already "dead money" through those 3 contracts for 2014 and 2015. This is $5.3 on top of that amount. So what does $5.3 million get you that the Steelers will now no longer have in 2014 and 2015? Well, using last year as an example, that $5.3 million would have gotten you both Jacoby Jones and Corey Graham during this past offseason. That's a huge amount of money to make "dead" just through the process of getting yourself out of cap trouble. .They also created an extra $2.2 million in dead money for 2016 with Brown and Timmons.


    If the Steelers can somehow resurrect these 30-somethings into past glory for one more 10-6 season in 2013 (very optimistic), it's going to come at a huge cost to their chances for success in 2014 and 2015. In order for these restructures to make the slightest sense, you have to believe that there is a Super Bowl contending roster still in that 2013 clubhouse. I think that's a longshot to begin with, particularly when you consider that their 2011 and 2012 teams weren't particularly close to even reaching a Super Bowl. Those teams had Wallace, Hampton, Foote, Foster, and Mundy, all who are likely to be lost in free agency. What logic is there to think that these aging players will suddenly turn into their 2010 versions? Even if some of them did, where are the complimentary players needed to sustain a roster during a 16 game season? They are on other rosters now, because the Steeler FO has butchered their salary cap for years now.

    Long years ahead in Pittsburgh. Serves them right.
    Last edited by LukeDaniel; 02-28-2013 at 12:04 PM.




  15. #15
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    Re: Steeler restructures---committing cap suicide

    Quote Originally Posted by BigPlayReceiver View Post
    I'll believe that PIT is dead when I'm reading the autopsy.
    You and me both.

    And it better have a picture of the stake through their heart...




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