It really is amazing how differently fans of the same football team can see things but today was a classic example of just that. Some were thrilled to see the moves the Pittsburgh Steelers made and some were a bit perplexed.
At the end of the day the Steelers’ Kevin Colbert and Omar Khan again worked some salary cap magic for another year and they aren’t done yet.
I thought it would be a good idea to break down what transpired on an incredibly busy day in Pittsburgh.
Both Troy Polamalu and Heath Miller were entering the final year of their contracts and both were scheduled to have big cap numbers to boot.
The Steelers went ahead and gave them each a two-year extension which keeps them in Pittsburgh through 2016. As Ed Bouchette of the Post-Gazette reported, both guys kind of ‘took one for the team.’
That doesn’t mean these two aren’t getting paid but considering what they could have made contractually in 2014, it does help the team positively.
These two extensions do not come without risks however. Miller was certainly not himself through the 2013 season. He was coming off significant knee surgery and just never seemed to get in the flow. The Steelers are betting that he will return to his 2012 form.
Polamalu essentially hand-cuffed the Steelers with his very good season in 2012. He played in all 16 games which is something he hadn’t been able to do in some time. Had he played in eight to ten games the decision would have been drastically different for the black ‘n gold.
In both cases, this move appeases fans because it ensures that both men will retire as Steelers and that can’t be overlooked.
Also returning to Pittsburgh is Will Allen. Allen started last season with Dallas before coming back to the Steelers during the season. Do not dismiss this signing. With the all but done decision of Ryan Clark not returning, the Steelers were faced with a serious lack of depth at free safety. Second-year man Shamarko Thomas would seem to be in line to start in place of Clark but I wouldn’t be too sure.
I really believe Allen will enter training camp as the number one guy at free safety simply because he has a little more knowledge and experience than does Thomas. This doesn’t mean that Thomas won’t ultimately take the position but Dick LeBeau likes guys who know what they’re doing.
The release of Levi Brown comes as no surprise whatsoever. He never played a single down for the Steelers after being acquired from Arizona and with his release the Steelers save about $6 million in cap space.
Cornerback Curtis Brown was also cut in what can only be deemed as a disappointment to the Steelers. Brown was a third-round pick in the 2011 NFL Draft and was a solid special teamer but he just never developed as a cornerback. While injuries were certainly a part of the decision, it was clear he wasn’t going to contribute defensively.
The toughest of the three cuts from today had to be Larry Foote. The 12-year veteran played all but one season in Pittsburgh and won two Super Bowls with the Steelers. Foote will not go down as one of the great linebackers in Steelers’ lore but he was very respected by coaches and teammates because he got the most out of himself and knew Dick LeBeau’s defense as well as anyone.
Still to Come
I have to believe that the Steelers will make statements regarding Ike Taylor and LaMarr Woodley in the next day or two. Taylor has been asked to take less money or face being cut altogether. I believe he will realize that he can either make less money and stay home or go somewhere else and also make less money. To me, he’ll take the pay cut and use the valuable lesson learned from James Harrison’s misstep from last year.
By now you know where Woodley stands. The Steelers will be dealt a pretty severe cap blow one way or the other should they release him now or on June first. Should they keep him, where does he play? Worilds has to start and you’d think Jarvis Jones would too. I tend to think he’ll be sent packing.
One final thought is Ben Roethlisberger. I wrote earlier this week that he has to be smiling because of contracts that QBs Tony Romo and Jay Cutler have and of course because of the one Colin Kaepernick reportedly wants. I have to believe the Steelers want to get something done sooner rather than later.
Marc Uhlmann writes for and co-owns www.steelcityblitz.com. Follow him on Twitter @steeldad and follow the website at @SCBlitz. He can be heard Mondays on Trib-Live Radio at 730pm ET talking Steelers and is a blogger for ESPN 970 in Pittsburgh.