For those that are wondering just how the Steelers are going to manage the salary cap over the next year even as they play ball in 2012 and get set for 2013, Jamison Hensley at ESPN writes about how the team is looking to “win now,” and how they could have more serious trouble in 2013 as they will have three potential unrestricted free agents – Wallace, Mendenhall and Miller.
What it boils down to is this: The Steelers got themselves out of cap jail today by handcuffing themselves in the future. These moves are putting pressure on the Steelers to win now.
“As a former cap manager in the NFL for 10 years, I know that if you want to make something work for one year, you can,” ESPN NFL business analyst Andrew Brandt said. “It’s just a question of how much pain are you pushing off to the future.”
The first real pinch will come in 2013, when the Steelers could be anywhere from $10 million to $15 million over the cap depending on the limit next year. Add that to having three starters on offense becoming unrestricted free agents: wide receiver Mike Wallace (if he doesn’t go elsewhere this year as a restricted free agent), running back Rashard Mendenhall and tight end Heath Miller.
Pittsburgh will have to either find cap room to re-sign these players, look for cheaper replacements in free agency or hope someone already on the roster can take their spots. Plus, wide receiver Antonio Brown becomes a restricted free agent in 2013, so the Steelers could be facing another Wallace situation all over again with a limited budget. It looks like there will be tougher decisions in 2013 than this year.
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