PITTSBURGH -- With the start of the NFL’s new year less two weeks away, the Steelers still have some work to do to get in compliance with the salary cap. But the organization is in pretty good shape, especially with the anticipated spike in the cap for 2014.
ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter has reported that the cap is expected to jump from $123 million to $130 million. ESPN NFL Insider John Clayton has reported that the spending ceiling could come in at $132 million.
Based on the lower figure, the Steelers are currently around $8.5 million over the cap, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
They can lop $6.25 million off their cap number by releasing offensive tackle Levi Brown, who suffered a season-ending triceps injury last October and didn’t play in a game after the Steelers acquired the former first-round draft pick from the Cardinals.
The Steelers are also expected to seek pay cuts from a couple of veterans and restructure some contracts to not only get in compliance with the cap but clear enough room so they can sign free agents.
Cornerback Ike Taylor's base salary in 2014 is $7 million, and the 11th-year veteran won’t return to the Steelers unless he agrees to a significant pay cut. Outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley is also a candidate for a pay cut following three injury-plagued seasons and limited return on the six-year, $61.5 million contract he signed in 2011.
If Woodley balks at accepting less money, the Steelers won’t clear any cap room if they release him before June 1. But they can spread the amount of dead money ($14.17 million) in his contract over the next two years if they designate him as a post-June 1 release.
Whatever combination of cuts and contract restructures that the Steelers employ to clear cap room, they should have the flexibility to sign their own some of their free agents and be more active in free agency than they have been in recent years.