Football Outsiders is out and doing Division by Division looks at the salary cap and how it affects each team around the league.
To see about the entire AFC North – click HERE
Here’s the Steelers breakdown, and some of the background on how they think things will play out for the team.
Estimated Cap Space: Around $12 million over
Unrestricted Free Agents (11): Charlie Batch, Jerricho Cotchery, Dennis Dixon, Trai Essex, William Gay, Chris Hoke (retired), Byron Leftwich, Anthony Madison, Mewelde Moore, Daniel Sepulveda, Max Starks
Restricted Free Agents (7): Ramon Foster, David Johnson, Doug Legursky, Keenan Lewis, Jamon Meredith, Ryan Mundy, Mike Wallace
David Johnson, Ryan Mundy, Ramon Foster, Doug Legursky and Keenan Lewis can expect, at minimum, an original round tender worth $1.26 million in non-guaranteed base salary.
Franchise Tag Candidate: One season after ranking first in receiving DYAR and DVOA, wide receiver Mike Wallace ranked fifth and eighth in those statistics in 2011. With the elimination of the “first- and third-round” tender in the new collective bargaining agreement, a team in need of a wide receiver could target Wallace if the cost is only a 2012 first round pick. It’s worth noting that two teams in need of a deep threat at wide receiver are the Cleveland Browns and New England Patriots, both of whom are armed with cap room and an additional first round pick, so the Steelers may have no choice but to construct a bigger fence around Wallace by placing the projected $9.5 million franchise tender on Wallace.
Potential Cap Casualties/Restructures: The Steelers have already cleared around $18 million from the cap by restructuring the contracts of Ike Taylor, LaMarr Woodley and Lawrence Timmons (Following these links to see the details of the Woodley and Timmons restructures). Ben Roethlisberger and James Harrison both restructured their contracts to free up cap space last August. Doing so again could potentially free up another $8 million of cap space, which helps, but still won’t get the Steelers far enough under the cap to be able to tender offers to their restricted free agents.
Other restructure candidates include Troy Polamalu ($9.1375 million cap number), Casey Hampton ($8.057 million cap number in final year of his contract), offensive linemen Willie Colon ($5.7 million cap number) and Chris Kemoeatu ($5.262 million cap number), and Hines Ward. Ward is due $4 million in base salary and has a $4.61 million cap number in 2012. Outright releasing Ward would free up $3.39 million of cap space, but Ward is open to restructuring his contract and lowering his cap number. Pittsburgh would likely seek to reduce their cash commitment to Ward, so a reworked contract would certainly be incentive-laden.