The North East has been the recipient of a tough winter these past couple of months being under constant attack of snow and extremely cold weather. It seems like every week the forecast calls for 10 degrees and more cold. To top it all off Punxsutawney Phil gives the North another 6 weeks of winter.
Referencing the famous groundhog is no accident as it suits the Steelers salary cap situation to a tee. Steeler Nation has been part of the Ground Hog Day experience for the past three seasons and this upcoming season looks to be no different. But instead of Bill Murray as the star of the show, the Steelers have GM Kevin Colbert stating that they must find a solution to be cap compliant.
The good news is that the NFL has reported that the salary cap will increase to $130 million in 2014 from $123 million last year. The bad news is, that Pittsburgh will still be over the cap by $8 million when the NFL fiscal year begins in March.
Of course, contract reconstruction and the release of some players will bring the relief needed as it has in the past, remember LB James Harrison? The question is though, when is it going to end?
For the 2012 season, the Steelers front office had to come up with a way to come up from under the $25 million they were over the cap. They did so by restructuring contracts and letting go of veteran players like, Hines Ward, James Farrior and Aaron Smith. Granted those moves where inevitable and the players release were past their primes anyways but it points to a pattern.
Last off season more severe cuts came along when Harrison was let go and Super Bowl hero Casey Hampton went packing. Others included Rashard Mendenhall, Mike Wallace, and Keenan Lewis because of Pittsburgh inability or unwillingness to resign due to lack of uncommitted financial resources.
With the newly increased cap room, the 2014 season will not be that bad but talk of releasing and restructuring still abounds. Brett Keisel might be released and Troy Polamalu will be asked to take a pay cut and Antonio Brown will also be in the mix for restructuring his recently signed contract prior to 2012.
The issue here is not so much of releasing players but asking players to take pay-cuts. Constantly restructuring contracts is the big reason the Steelers find themselves in this same position season after season. Granted, this season doesn’t seem as bad as previous and there is a strong possibility the Steelers will be cap compliant with certain player release. But what happens when Ben Rothlisberger needs to get his contract extended? Or when Cam Heyward and Cortez Allen become free agents? The bill will come due for all these impending contracts and what then?
Someone needs to start facing the financial climate of the Pittsburgh Steelers before it is too late and the dawn of a new future in Steeler Nation becomes just a distant glimmer.