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Salary Cap

Big Ben Will Do “Whatever It Takes” To Remain A Steeler

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Due to circumstances beyond my control, there will be no recap of the Mike Tomlin press conference this week. Believe me, I’m just as disappointed as all of you. Evidently at one point, Tomlin quoted Iron Maiden by saying, “If you’re gonna die, you die with your boots on.” If he works a Poison reference into his next presser, I may have to scrap my usual snarkiness and write a 1,000 word opus on how freakin’ cool Coach T can be.

In the meantime, there has been another development in the other big subplot to this Pittsburgh Steelers season. It’s been nearly two weeks since’s Ian Rapoport came out with his fictitious story that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger would ask to be traded this off-season. Last Thursday, NFL Network decided to double down on the lunacy by not only bringing Rapoport back to repeat his nonsense but add in unverified unattributed reports that the team felt Ben “wasn’t Peyton Manning” in terms of studying the playbook and GM Kevin Colbert was at the Clemson game to scout his eventual replacement, Tajh Boyd. Read More »Big Ben Will Do “Whatever It Takes” To Remain A Steeler

Steelers Fiddle While NFL Burns…

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…through all their money.

Sometimes I wonder what it’d be like to be a fan of another team. Does anybody else do that? Not often but every once in awhile, I’ll sit there in my Roethlisberger jersey after the Pittsburgh Steelers clinch yet another playoff spot or suffer a heartbreaking loss and wonder what it must feel like for rabid fans of other teams. Can you imagine what a Clevelander must think when they wake on game day only to be greeted by Brady Quinn’s #10 hanging in their closet? Or what a Lions fan must feel now that their team is a legitimate playoff contender when their last playoff appearance featured a fella by the name of Chaz Batch playing quarterback for them?

I guess I’m in a reflective mood because frankly that’s all there is for Steeler fans to do during the first month or so of free agency. For the past week, the fans of other teams probably spent half their workday on their computer or smartphone obsessively refreshing the ProFootballTalk website for the latest free agent news. I can picture ‘Skins fans doing their best impression of the Micro Machines guy; “Vincent Jackson…Vincent Jackson….C’mon Vincent…D’OH…Pierre Garcon?…C’mon Pierre Garcon…Pierre…YEAH!”

For about 30 teams, this is the time of year when your team goes out and spends a bunch of money in an effort to become a contender. This is the time of year when you start thinking your front office and ownership truly want to win and are doing all the right things to ensure you’re still playing in January. For Steeler fans, this is the time of year we become Penguin fans. Anybody hear about this Sidney Crosby character coming back tonight or something?
Read More »Steelers Fiddle While NFL Burns…

Steelers Benefit From Salary Cap Incomptence

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An already crazy NFL off-season is about to get even crazier. When the clock strikes four this afternoon, the league’s 2012 free agency period officially begins. There really wasn’t much free agent activity last year due to the lock-out and teams being reluctant to bring in new faces who wouldn’t have the benefit of an entire off-season to learn a new playbook. Prepare for free agency to return with a vengeance.

Speaking of which, the Pittsburgh Steelers got an itty bit of salary cap relief thanks to of all people Commissioner Roger Goodell. Over the weekend, the salary cap was set at $120 million, a negligible increase over last year’s cap. Considering the lock-out was fought over the players wanting 53% of the revenue while the owners tried shrink their share to 47%, it’s pretty clear who won last year’s showdown. Good job bending over for the league, Dee Smith.

Anyway, the league announced two teams, the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins were being docked cap space for front loading contracts during the uncapped year. In other words, the Ginger Dictator is penalizing those teams ($10 and $31 million respectively) for violating the salary cap in a year in which no cap existed. And I thought suspending players for playing football set a new bar for insane rulings. Gotta love that monomaniacal douchebag.
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Clock Ticking On Mike Wallace

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Tick-Tock. Tick-Tock.

Sorry for opening with such a corny line but in this case it’s particularly apt. The Pittsburgh Steelers followed through on their vow not to use their Franchise tag on All Pro receiver Mike Wallace. Instead they tendered him an offer, making him a restricted free agent. What this means is one of three things will happen when the NFL’s free agency period kicks off at 4:00 ET next Tuesday.

Wallace may sign the one year offer for $2.75 million. Or another team may offer him a bigger contract, which the Steelers have an option to match. If they decide to match, the Steelers keep Wallace and the other team is S.O.L. If the Steelers decline to match, Wallace goes to that team with Pittsburgh receiving their first round draft pick as compensation.

Wallace isn’t going to sign that tender until free agency is over. He no doubt feels he’s worth more than what the Steelers have offered and he’s right. To give you a rough idea where the bar is for a young up-and-coming wide receiver, let’s look at the Buffalo Bills. They recently re-signed Stevie Johnson to a five year $36 million deal. NFL fans know Johnson as the dude who writes silly messages on his undershirt with a sharpie. Steeler Nation remembers him as the putz who dropped the game-winning touchdown pass in overtime, then blamed God for his butterfingers. In either case, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t view Wallace as the far better receiver.
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Where Do Steelers Go From Here?

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The Post-Gazette is calling it the March Massacre. Being a rabid fan of the television series “Lost,” I prefer to refer to it as the Purge. In a span of three days, the Pittsburgh Steelers cut four veterans who combined had logged over forty seasons in the Black & Gold. Going back a little less than a month, the Steelers cut a total of six players, five of whom at one time or another had been mainstays in the starting line-up.

The latest veteran to get the axe is in some ways the most significant. Linebacker James Farrior was rumored to be on the chopping block since his age (37) and salary ($3.25 million) didn’t appear to fit with the team’s current youth movement. Still, Potsie’s exit comes as a mild surprise because even though his play had obviously declined, he remained a key member of the defense. Farrior’s helmet bore the Mr. Yuck sticker signifying that he alone was Dick LeBeau‘s on-field game general. Of the six players released during the Purge, Farrior is the only one who was still a regular starter at the end of 2011.
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Say Good-Bye To Veteran Steelers

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While four teams still remain in the NFL playoffs, the rest of the league is turning their attention toward next season. In yesterday’s Post-Gazette, team president Art Rooney mentioned that the Pittsburgh Steelers will be facing “tough decisions” this off-season. Translation:  We brought back the old slow veterans for one more go ’round the track but since they failed, it’s off to the glue factory for some of them.

Peter King, of all people, pointed out the Steelers future salary cap woes before the season began and it bears examining now that we’re faced with the consequences. Next year’s cap is projected to be in the neighborhood of $125 million, which the current roster currently exceeds by somewhere between $20-25 million. That’s money already committed, to say nothing about money needed to sign draft picks, re-sign Mike Wallace, Issac Redman and other pending free agents, and perhaps *gasp* even spending a buck or two on the FA market to bring a decent lineman in here so our franchise QB doesn’t get broken in two halfway through the season.

Steeler Nation has been somewhat spoiled by management that’s stayed one step ahead of the game when dealing with the salary cap. The team has been clever about restructuring deals and/or adding bonus money or years in order to lower the cap hit. Problem is, adding years to guys already pushing their mid-30s is completely idiotic. And if Indianapolis is seriously considering cutting Peyton Manning, the man who made their sad little franchise relevant, in order to avoid paying him a roster bonus (and the accompanying cap hit), there’s nobody on the Steelers who should be untouchable.
Read More »Say Good-Bye To Veteran Steelers