Steelers restructure Gilbert, Mitchell contracts; Pouncey close
The new NFL year is less than two weeks away, and the Steelers are wasting no time clearing space in order to be salary-cap compliant. They’re also creating room to sign quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to a long-term deal and place the franchise tag on free agent linebacker Jason Worilds by Monday if they choose to do so.
The Steelers restructured the deals of tackle Marcus Gilbert and safety Mike Mitchell and are in the final stages of doing the same with center Maurkice Pouncey which eventually will clear nearly $10 million off their cap for the upcoming year.
Pouncey’s restructure is expected to be finalized by next week, according to industry sources.
The Steelers’ top 51 salaries (which are the only contracts counted toward the salary cap in the offseason) will be approximately $133 million following the completion of Pouncey’s restructure.
NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith said at the Scouting Combine that the union projects the salary cap at $143 million this year, an increase of $10 million over the 2014 season.
The Steelers could clear more cap space by restructuring receiver Antonio Brown’s contract. Brown has a base salary of $6 million and counts $9.8 million against the cap this year.
The Steelers also are expected to release a handful of veterans before the new league year March 10 to reduce their cap number more.
The Steelers are in need of cap space because they are in contract negotiations with Roethlisberger, who likely would command more than $20 million annually.
Also, the Steelers have until Monday to decide whether to use a franchise or transition tag on Worilds. A franchise tag would cost the Steelers approximately $13 million for 2015, and the transition tag, if accepted, would count approximately $11 million.
That number would be added immediately to the Steelers’ cap until a long-term deal could be worked out. Last year, that long-term deal never came after Worilds agreed to the transition tag that paid him more than $9 million.
Gilbert restructured the 5-year, $30 million extension he signed in August to provide the Steelers with an extra $3.7 million in cap space this year.
Gilbert would have earned a $3.5 million roster bonus March 15, but the Steelers converted that bonus and the majority of 2015 base salary into a signing bonus and spread it over the length of the contract.
A full restructure of Pouncey’s deal would save the Steelers $3.8 million in cap space in 2015. A full restructure of Mitchell would lower his cap number by $2.4 million.