Steel Sensations…Salary cap decisions must be made

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As the Pittsburgh Steelers progress through the offseason they’ll need to begin to look at the contracts they currently have on the books for 2014 and beyond and what those contracts mean towards the cap. There are several players that could be impacted through a restructuring of their current deal or via an unconditional release.

The Steelers will navigate their way through the roster and make decisions on each and every player in an effort to remain under the cap as well as keeping the roster as competitive as possible at the same time.

It’s likely the following players will be impacted in some form or fashion.

LaMarr Woodley, 2014 cap hit 13.4 million dollars

This one should be simple too; it’s time to part ways with Woodley. He still has three years remaining on his contract and quite simply, he’s not worth the money. He’s often injured and just not putting up the big plays and statistics that a 13.4 million dollar linebacker should. If the team can re-sign Jason Worilds; this move is highly likely. If they can’t, then the team may let Woodley stay for at least one more season.

Ben Roethlisberger breaks away from Green Bay Packers' Jamari Lattimore (57) for a touchdown run during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 22, 2013, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Mike Roemer)

Ben Roethlisberger breaks away from Green Bay Packers’ Jamari Lattimore (57) for a touchdown run during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 22, 2013, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Mike Roemer)

Ben Roethlisberger, 2014 cap hit 18.8 million dollars

The decision on Roethlisberger should be an easy one. The team must extend his contract beyond its end date of 2016, which should enable them to lower his salary and cap hit. He wants to remain a Steeler for his entire career and the team feels the same way, so why not take care of business now?

Pittsburgh Steelers strong safety Troy Polamalu , left, intercepts a pass intended for Miami Dolphins wide receiver Brian Hartline (82) and returns it for a touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013. (AP Photo/Don Wright)

Pittsburgh Steelers strong safety Troy Polamalu , left, intercepts a pass intended for Miami Dolphins wide receiver Brian Hartline (82) and returns it for a touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013. (AP Photo/Don Wright)

Troy Polamalu, 2014 cap hit 10.8 million dollars

Polamalu is a tricky one. He is overpaid at this point but he’s not a guy the team should release due to his ability to still contribute plus his legendary status.  With one year on his contract the team should try to extend him an additional year to help reduce the cap hit. If they can’t come to an agreement they should just keep him. They may release Polamalu if they can’t get his salary down, which would be a very unfitting end to his Steeler career.

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Heath Miller (AP Photo/File)

Heath Miller, 2014 cap hit 9.4 million dollars

Miller should stay no matter what and he will. His contract ends at the end of this season, so if the team is able to extend him a few more years in an effort to reduce his cap hit, they should do so and I believe they will.

Mike Tomlin talks with cornerback Ike Taylor (24) during the first half of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions in Pittsburgh, Nov. 17. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Mike Tomlin talks with cornerback Ike Taylor (24) during the first half of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions in Pittsburgh, Nov. 17. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Ike Taylor, 2014 cap hit 11.9 million dollars

Taylor is in a situation where he still has some gas left in the tank but he’s clearly not the player he once was. The team has secondary issues so there is some use for him, but not at 11.9 million dollars.  If the team can find some way to extend him by one year in an effort to reduce the cap hit, then by all means they should do so. If they cannot find a way, then he must be released. I suspect his time in Pittsburgh will end and he’ll be released.

Larry Foote, 2014 cap hit 1.8 million dollars

Foote missed the entire 2013 season and while his salary is very reasonable, it may make sense to move on from him and save the money. I could go either way here and think they should probably bring him back but it would not be shocking if he were let go.

Steve McLendon, 2014 cap hit 2.9 million dollars.

McLendon has not shown enough to be a starter in this league. If the team feels they can draft or even sign a new starting nose tackle, they should save the money and let McLendon go. I believe that’s what will happen.

Ramon Foster, 2014 cap hit 1.9 million dollars

While the offensive line has issues, the team should try to bring back Fernando Velasco and do so by cutting Foster. Foster is nothing to write home about and his money can be better served on a guy like Velasco. I think there’s a good chance the team will bring him back however.

Levi Brown, 2014 cap hit 6.2 million dollars

Absolutely a no brainer; he should and will be released. He’s far overpaid and never even set foot on the field for the black and gold.

These won’t be easy decisions but decisions the team will have to make to ensure they are set for 2014 and beyond. While some of the players under the microscope are long time Steeler vets with major contributions to their success; it has become a necessity to make these decisions for the betterment of the organization.

Mike Pelaia hosts the website Steel Nation Association http://www.steelnationassociation.com- Covering the Steelers and helping Children’s Hospital All Day Everyday. You can e-mail him at mike@steelnationassociation.com.

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