The 4pm witching hour came and went in Pittsburgh with no franchise tag for Mike Wallace. Something that nobody expected to happen anyway. Kevin Colbert spoke today according to Steelers insider Ed Bouchette and talked about Wallace, the Steelers cap situation, and the possibility of any more player cuts on the horizon this offseason.
Even with money they recently freed up with the release of veterans Hines Ward, Aaron Smith, Chris Kemoeatu, and James Farrior they didn’t have enough cap room to justify franchising Wallace and still be able to tender their RFA’s coming up. That deadline for those tender offers is March 13th at 4pm. As of now the team is between $10-$11 million under the cap according to Bouchette.
In the interview with Bob Labriola, Colbert also said that depending on what the salary cap number turns out to be, they wouldn’t rule out another personnel move in the future. The cap for 2012 is projected to be about $120 million but if it’s lower we can expect more restructures or possible releases. The final number is expected to be released within the coming week.
It’s not out of the ordinary for the Steelers to run close so the cap, they do it almost every year because they use virtually every available penny to keep their team intact and sign new players. You’ll never see the Steelers with $30 or $40 million in available cap space because you never see them having to make the wholesale cuts that would allow them to come up with a number that high. It’s just another reason the Steelers are one of the best run franchises in all of sports; they spend their money wisely and don’t mortgage the future on only a handful of players.
If the Steelers were to offer up tenders to all of their restricted players they would eat up all of the available space they now have so unless more restructures are coming there could be some that are left out. Obviously Wallace will get an offer, costing them $2.7 million but after that anything is possible. One would think that lineman Ramon Foster and Doug Legursky, along with Safety Ryan Mundy will get their 1 yr. deals but even that may not be guaranteed. If that doesn’t happen there will be some serious holes on the offensive line that will have to be filled via the draft, even more so than the team may be planning on addressing already.
How things go over the next week will give us a good indication of they might proceed on draft day with adding new players to the roster. We say “might” because the Steelers don’t always go with conventional wisdom during the draft but this year there are obvious needs that they’ll have to address one way or the other. Offensive line, defensive line, and middle linebacker are the consensus primary areas for concern.
You can see our projections of who could get their offers and how much it will cost the team, here.