When it comes to parting ways with players, a year early is always better than a year too late. Sometimes you also find out that a guy who is replacing an injured starter, just might be a viable and unexpected answer to help solve other problem areas. A season in which the Steelers dealt with so many injuries, could actually be a golden opportunity to reshape the roster in order to help further build a defense that could get the Steelers back in the Super Bowl. We all fall in love, so to speak, with certain players that are deemed irreplaceable, and get angry and defensive when it is suggested that the time has come for them to move on to their life’s work. It was that way with the departures of fan favorites like Jack Lambert all the way up to Troy Polamalu, but sometimes that is what’s required to move onward and upward in today’s “what have you done for me lately” culture. The most pressing issues that the Steelers face, are on the defensive side of the ball, most namely in the secondary and at defensive tackle. The solution to help fix the defense could come with making some personnel decisions on the offense. Releasing three players, Heath Miller, Shaun Suisham, and Maurkice Pouncey, would free up the money to do just that.
As valuable as these three are, and have been, one is getting up there in age, while the other two are dealing with season ending injuries. Aside from injuries to Le’Veon Bell and Ben Roethlisberger, the Steelers offense didn’t miss a beat with Cody Wallace playing center. Granted, Wallace might have led all NFL centers in penalty yardage, but he provided excellent pass protection for Ben, and is extremely aggressive in run blocking. Heath Miller will be heading into twelfth year next season, and is showing signs of slowing down. In his prime, Miller was a tight end who could do it all equally well when it came to pass catching and blocking, but the time might be right to pass the baton to a much younger Jesse James, who showed potential in his rookie season.The Steelers defense finds itself in its current rebuilding state because they held onto older players for too long, all for the sake of one more title run. Although they have done a good job of re-stocking that side of the ball, they still have some holes to fill. As the Steelers are finally escaping Salary Cap Hell, the time to act is now.
2016 Steelers Salary Cap:
2016 Salary Cap-$154 million
2015 roll over cap- $0
Adjusted Salary Cap-$154 million
All contracts- $146,487,297
Dead money- $765,187
Total Cap money- $147,252,484
Total Cap space- $6,747,516
Using the new “manage this roster” feature over at http://www.spotrac.com, by taking their figures and restructuring Ben’s deal, along with cutting Pouncey and Miller, the Steelers ended up with more cap space to work with than they have had in years. It’s cap space that is needed, and would open up a lot of options that they haven’t previously had, especially in free agency.
My 2016 Steelers Salary Cap:
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Just by restructuring Ben and cutting Pouncey, Suisham, and Miller, the Steelers could approximately add an additional $32 million to their cap space. That doesn’t include a potential restructuring Lawrence Timmons deal either. That extra money could go a long way towards adding the necessary pieces to the secondary, finding a nose tackle, and locking up Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell long term. These are moves that the Steelers have to make in order to make them a legitimate threat to bring home Lombardi Trophy number 7. As hard as it would be to see longtime players like Pouncey, Heath, and Suisham move on, the ultimate goal is to win a championship. The Steelers need to do whatever is necessary to achieve that goal.