Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Steelers Salary Cap Blues; Several Impressive Prospects: Vaccaro, Cooper, Ball and Allen

Steelers Salary Cap Challenges

When taking the top 51 contracts for the Steelers, they need to clear about $14 million to comply with the projected $121 million salary cap.

The Steelers will undoubtedly try to restructure some of the high salary cap numbers including James Harrison at $10 million and Polamalu at $10.3 million. Harrison's agent is on record saying Harrison will not take a pay cut.

GM Kevin Colbert said last week, "We've got to be prepared, both from a salary cap standpoint and a talent standpoint to make these changes. It's really not any more sophisticated than in previous years."

Today it was reported the Steelers restructured Antonio Brown's contract. Brown reduced his $4.5 million contract to $650,000 with the remaining money rolled over into a signing bonus according to Pro Football Talk. According to the report, the deal will save the Steelers $3.08 million next season. It's also being reported that Roethlisberger is considering restructuring his contract as well to help create salary cap space.

Laurence Timmons contract was restructured on Tuesday.

Restructuring these contracts and more will enable the Steelers to meet the March 12, 2013 deadline. However, it may leave the Steelers little room to deal with free agents.

Steelers Have Their Eyes On Kenny Vaccaro, Jonathan Cooper, Montee Ball And Keenan Allen

With the first week of evaluations completed at the NFL combine, it appears the Steelers are taking a hard look at Kenny Vaccaro of Texas as insurance for Polamalu especially considering Troy's injuries the last two seasons.

It's also been reported that the Steelers are interested in Jonathan Cooper of North Carolina who would fill the need for third interior linemen. Cooper is smaller and a good athlete who is quick, exactly what offensive line coach Jack Bicknell, Jr., is looking for.

It's also no secret that the Steelers will be in need of good running back. It's been reported the Steelers met with Montee Ball of Wisconsin. At 5'10" tall and 214 pounds, Ball might just fit that need. In addition, his career 77 rushing touchdowns is impressive.

California's Keenan Allen might also make a tempting target for Roethlisberger at 6'2" with some impressive speed.

Sources: USA TODAY, Fox Sports, Bleecher Report, SBnation and

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Will James Harrison Be A Steeler Next Season? But What About Woodley? LeBeau Confident Troy Has Several Years Left

Will James Harrison Remain A Steeler?

Seems like many are asking that question. Ed Bouchette of the Pitt. Post Gazette is reporting the Steelers want Harrison back next season. The only obstacle might be Harrison's salary now at $6.5 million considering the Steelers need to come in under the cap.

But What About LaMarr Woodley?

Woodley, on the other hand, needs to show more during the off-season especially when it comes to his workouts.  Before the 2011 season started, LaMarr signed a $61.5 million contract but since that year, his performance declined. His sacks declined from 9 in 2011 to 4 in 2012.

Dick LeBeau Confident In Polamalu Hanging Around A Few More Years

We've heard the rumors. Does Troy have anything left in his gas tank? Well, Steelers Defensive Coordinator, Dick LeBeau is confident Troy does.  In fact, LeBeau believes Polamalu has "several more years" left.

Yardbarker, Fox Sports, Steelers Depot

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Steelers Off-Season Needs; Keisel, A Viking No More; Hines Ward's Lifetime Achievement Award

Steelers Off-Season Needs

Look for movement by the Steelers next week.

It's apparent Steelers have some difficult issues to resolve in the off-season. One of these is dealing with a salary-cap that gives them little wiggle room. As reported several weeks ago, unrestricted free agents include Mike Wallace (WR), Rashard Mendenhall (RB), Keenan Lewis (CB), Casey Hampton (NT) and Larry Foote (LB).

At this time, the Steelers have 51 players under contract. Expect to see a half-dozen or more draft picks and at least a dozen or more undrafted free agents. The Steelers will pick at No. 17 meaning the stud players will be long gone. Keep in mind Woodley and Harrison are coming off disappointing seasons.

Bottom line: As commented on by Pete O'Brien of USA Today's Sports, "Reload or rebuild? Aging, expensive stars have the Steelers standing at a crossroads."

Add to the above issues, Roethlisberger is on the short side of his career now (entered league in 2004). Having said this, in 2012, Ben was on a tear to have his best season since 2007 with 32 TD's (11 interceptions). In addition, he's not had consistent running backs since Parker and Bettis were in the backfield. Right now, Heath Miller remains Ben's best target if Miller's knee holds up.

Folks, no need to panic. We've been here before.

Keisel, A Viking No More

Brett Keisel resemblance to Leif Ericksson is no more. Keisel shaved his famous beard last week benefiting Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh.

Hines Ward Receives Lifetime Achievement Award

Last Wednesday, former Steelers wide receiver received a Lifetime Achievement Award. Ward , who retired in 2011, was honored for his 11 year career with the team.

"It's such a big honor for me...I am so grateful to the Steelers, the City of Pittsburgh and the Dapper Dan Charities for recognizing me in this way. It's very humbling," said Ward.

Ward finished his tenure with the Steelers with exactly 1000 receptions for 12,083 yards and 85 touchdowns. Ward also holds the team record for most 100-yard games at 29.

Dapper Dan Charities benefit the Boys and Girls Club of Western Pennsylvania along with many other charities.

USA TODAY,, Steeler Depot

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Danny Smith, Native Of Pittsburgh + Edinboro Coaching Alumni, Named Special Teams Coodinator; Jack Bricknell, Jr., Tagged As New O-Line Coach

Danny Smith Comes Home: New Special Teams Coordinator

Steelers hired Danny Smith, former Redskins Special Teams Coordinator, as the Steelers new Special Teams Coordinator. Smith is a native of Pittsburgh.

Smith comes to the Steelers with 18 years of NFL experience. He coached special teams with the Bills and Philadelphia Eagles. He also coached tight ends for the Detroit Lions.

Smith started his coaching career at my Alma Mater, Edinboro University, in 1976. He went on to coach at Clemson, William and Marry, The Citadel and Georgia Tech.

Jack Bricknell, Jr., New O-Line Coach

Steelers are wasting no time making changes in some key coaching positions.  Earlier this week, the Steelers announced the hiring of Jack Bricknell, Jr., as the Offensive Line Coach.

Bricknell, 49, comes to the Steelers from Kansas City. Prior to his stint with the Chiefs, he served as assistant line coach with the NY Giants. Bricknell was part of the Giant's coaching staff that led the Giants to victory in Super Bowl XLVI. Being part of the Steeler tradition is "really a dream come true," said Bricknell last week.