On March 4th, Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers were able to restructure their contract, resulting in the longtime Steelers QB taking a large pay cut. With this new deal, Roethlisberger will have a base salary of $1.075 million with a signing bonus of $12.925 million. Before this contract agreement, Roethlisberger was set to have a cap hit of $41.25 million this upcoming season, which the Steelers were not going to have moving forward. Roethlisberger took a $5 million-dollar pay cut and, the technical length of the contract is five years, with the four after this season automatically voided.
Roethlisberger’s new cap hit equals out to $25.91 million compared to the original $41.25 million, and opened up $15.34 million in cap space for the Steelers. The Steelers now have roughly $3,617,086 in cap space, without accounting for any offers or tenders they’ve already made. The question now is if the Steelers will approach players like Stephon Tuitt, David DeCastro, Stevie Nelson, or Joe Haden about restructuring their deals and if they will do so. The Steelers have minimal cap space and a lot of big name free agents, so they will surely be looking for more ways to create cap space before the start of the new league year.
Another move the Steelers made on March 4th was resigning center J.C. Hassenauer to a one-year, exclusive-rights minimum contract. The Steelers will have to continue to work things out with their own players that are set to become free agents like JuJu Smith-Schuster, Cameron Sutton, Bud Dupree, Mike Hilton, and more. Sadly, it’s more than likely that a majority of these players won’t be returning to the team this offseason. Players like JuJu Smith-Schuster and Bud Dupree are two of the more likely candidates that will not be returning due to money that they will be demanding. However, lower-tier Steelers players, set to become free agents like OT Zach Banner, WR/PR/KR Ray-Ray McCloud, LB Robert Spillane, and S Marcus Allen could find their way back to Pittsburgh if the price is right. Rumors have been swirling about Dupree or Smith-Schuster returning to the team recently, but given their current cap situation it seems highly unlikely at the moment.
If the Steelers want to resign their players and bring in any free agents, they will have to release some players. LB Vince Williams could be a potential cap casualty who would open up around $3 million in cap space if released. Another potential cap casualty is FB Derek Watt, who was just signed last season by the Steelers. Watt had injuries during much of last season and, with there no longer being the opportunity to have all three Watt brothers in town, the Steelers could move on from Derek. Cutting Derek Watt would create $1.7 million in cap space for the Steelers.
In terms of actual free agents, it doesn’t seem like the Steelers will be active players in free agency given both their history and cap situation. They could look to bring in players on short-term, team-friendly deals, however. Former Steelers center B.J. Finney got released by the Cincinnati Bengals on March 5th and, bringing him back at a low cost would make perfect sense. A reunion with veteran OT Kelvin Beachum could be another great value signing for Pittsburgh. Veteran WR Golden Tate was just released by the Giants and reportedly had interest in joining the Steelers prior to signing with the Giants in 2019.
With all this in mind, the Roethlisberger deal is a good start for the Steelers, but there is a still a lot of work to be done. The move barely got the team below the salary cap, to the point where they could maybe sign one player with their current allotment of money. If the Steelers want to try to get Roethlisberger back to the Super Bowl, they are going to need to find a way to clear up some more cap space, or this deal will end up being for nothing.
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