The front office of the Steelers has been busy this offseason so far trying to chip away at the original $20-$25 million that the team was over the NFL salary cap by. They are making good progress here in the last few days as Linebacker Lamarr Woodley’s contract had been restructured, saving them over $6.5 million. They also cut often injured Cornerback Bryant McFadden and Special Teams ace Arnaz Battle, saving an additional $3.5 million approx.albyox – Alby Oxenreiter – Sports Director for WPXI-TV (NBC) in Pittsburgh
The urgency in getting under the cap comes not only from the Collective Bargaining Agreement that was ratified this past summer but also so they can have some operating cash to tender offers to their restricted free agents. Also don’t forget they’ll need money to sign draft picks as well. The team will have to make more cuts and restructures in the coming days and weeks to free up money to make sure they can offer Mike Wallace the highest amount possible. This will ensure their right to match any offer he gets from another team. Wallace is restricted so the Steelers have that in their favor right now but that doesn’t mean that if a team swooped in and offered him a boat load of cash that they’d be able to match it. As long as they tender him an offer they would have 7 days to match anything he gets.
Besides Wallace they also have to consider what other restricted players they are interested in keeping: OL – Ramon Foster & Doug Legursky, CB – Keenan Lewis, S- Ryan Mundy, & TE – David Johnson.
As you can see from our full 2012 Free Agent list for the Steelers, they will have some work to do yet if they want to keep all or even some of them. It’s unlikely that they will want to bring everyone back even if they could afford them. Further compounding the issue is that the Rams have requested permission to speak with Chief Negotiator Omar Khan. It’s believed he may have interview with them as early as Thursday. The team can ill afford to lose Khan who has been instrumental to say the least in finding ways to get the Steelers cap compliant each season.
As we’ve said all along, this offseason is one of the most important for the team in at least a decade. With so much money yet to be freed up and then the recent hiring of new Offensive Coordinator Todd Haley; there is much to do yet before training camp this summer.