Summary of Analysis
The Steelers are in a much better cap position than they’ve ever been heading into a new season. At the official start of the season, they will easily be in compliance with the cap even after tendering their exclusive-rights and restricted free agents; this is aided greatly by the retirement of Jeff Hartings.
The rookies are expected to take up about $2 million of their available space, but that will only put a small dent in the Steelers available cap space. Even if the Steelers were to make no other significant roster moves through the entire off-season (other than the no-brainer move of cutting Gardocki), they would have over $3 million of working cap space.
One burning issue in Steeler Nation is the status of Troy Polamalu; from a cap perspective, there are no concerns as it would only take around $1.5 million of additional cap space to extend Polamalu, even to a market value deal on par with Ed Reed. Any other extensions (such as re-upping with Aaron Smith or Alan Faneca) would also be no issue from a cap perspective; in fact, either of these moves would likely create additional cap space this year.
If the Steelers wanted to create additional cap space to play in free agent market, marginal players like Travis Kirschke and Cedrick Wilson could be released to free up significant extra space – nearly $3 million total in the case of those two players.
If they choose, the Steelers could certainly make a play in free agency for players like Daniel Graham, Eric Steinbach, and Napoleon Harris. They could upgrade players like Jerame Tuman, Kendall Simmons, and Clint Kriewaldt to Graham, Steinbach, and Harris, respectively, for less than $1 million in any of those cases.
Bottom line, in 2007, thanks to the new CBA, the Steelers are in great cap position to build a Super Bowl contender and solidify their roster for years to come.
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