At least eight Steelers will become unrestricted free agents in March unless they sign new contracts, including halfback Najeh Davenport, safeties Tyrone Carter and Mike Logan and special teams co-captain Sean Morey.
No starter's contract will expire other than right tackle Max Starks, however, and he will be a restricted free agent.
IMO, Najeh would be worth another shot
Still, the Steelers are headed for a busy negotiating session this spring because many of their most important players enter the final season of their contracts. That's usually a time when the Steelers try to negotiate extensions for the players they want to retain. Among the players with one year left on their deals are offensive guard Alan Faneca, safety Troy Polamalu, defensive end Aaron Smith, linebackers Joey Porter and Clark Haggans, and fullback Dan Kreider.
Several players renegotiated their deals this season to help the Steelers' save cap room, according to a list of contracts of the entire team obtained by the Post-Gazette. Those include Aaron Smith, linebacker Larry Foote and centers Jeff Hartings and Chukky Okobi.
The player who counted the most against the Steelers' salary cap in 2006 was not quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, nor Pro Bowl members Faneca, Casey Hampton or Troy Polamalu. It was left tackle Marvel Smith at $6.6 million, including a $4.4 million salary and a pro-rated portion of his signing bonuses. Next was center Jeff Hartings at nearly $6.5 million. Hartings has a year left on his contract, but he may retire; if he does, it would save $3.6 million in salary-cap room for the Steelers. I got a feeling Hartings is done
Other players with salary-cap values of more than $5 million last season were Faneca ($5.8 million), Hines Ward ($5.75 million) and Joey Porter ($5.23 million).
The final year of Porter's contract next season calls for him to have the highest salary-cap figure at $6.6 million. That includes a $4 million salary and a $1 million roster bonus payable in March.
Among the more intriguing salary-cap costs next season is cornerback Ike Taylor's. He received a new contract this season for $22.5 million over five years that paid a $6.4 million signing bonus. By the final third of the season, however, he was benched. His cap value of $1,588,000 this season jumps to nearly $5 million next season -- reflecting a jump in salary of about $2.8 million. That's a lot of cap room for someone who does not start, although he likely will get a chance to win back his job next summer. If Ike plays another season like he did this past season,IMO, He's was a waste of a contract.
The salary chart that accompanies this story reflects base salary, salary-cap value and certain bonuses such as workout bonuses, signing bonuses and roster bonuses. It does not reflect other financial information or incentives that affects each player's salary cap. Those can include incentives likely to be earned, reporting bonuses (once popular, now rarely used) and more.
Also, some figures listed in future roster bonuses do not affect a salary cap that season, based on how they are determined. For example, Roethlisberger is due large roster bonuses in the final two years of his contract, including $8 million in 2009, yet his salary-cap value for that season is slightly less than $3 million.
Other players who will become unrestricted free agents in two months if they do not sign with the Steelers in the interim are:
Offensive tackle Barrett Brooks, linebacker Chad Brown, defensive end Rodney Bailey, special teams player Chidi Iwuoma and receiver Lee Mays. Quarterback Brian St. Pierre would be a restricted free agent. Linebacker Arnold Harrison, long snapper Greg Warren and receiver Nate Washington are exclusive rights free agents who cannot move elsewhere as long as the team offers them a minimum-wage contract.
NOTES -- The Steelers signed six players to their reserve/future roster yesterday: Tight end Jon Dekker, running back Carey Davis, offensive tackle Brandon Torrey, defensive back Mike Lorello, linebacker Ron Stanley and wide receiver Walter Young. All spent time on the Steelers' practice squad last season.