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Thursday, March 6, 2014
Where Steelers stand after flurry of moves

By Scott Brown

The Steelers had been quiet the past couple of weeks.

Then they slapped the transition tag on outside linebacker Jason Worilds Monday afternoon, just ahead of the 4 p.m. deadline to tag players. There has been a steady stream of activity since then, starting with Worilds signing the one-year, $9.754 million contract that came with the transition tag.

In the past two days the Steelers have signed four players -- they had yet to announce the Will Allen signing as of early Thursday morning -- and released three, including veteran linebacker Larry Foote.

Forget the first week of free agency -- players are allowed to start signing with new teams Tuesday at 4 p.m. -- when the NFL is abuzz with visits and player movement. The busy time for the Steelers when it comes to turning over and shaping their roster is often the week leading up to the start of free agency, and this year is no exception.

The Steelers already have made a flurry of moves, and more are coming as they try to clear enough room under the salary cap -- it will be $133 million in 2014 -- to sign free agents as well as their draft picks.

They are off to a good start as they have retained strong safety Troy Polamalu and tight end Heath Miller as well as their top pending free agent (Worilds) without compromising the core of their team or their finances.

The Steelers, according to ESPN's Roster Management System, are a shade over $133 million in regard to the salary cap, though that total doesn’t include Allen’s new deal because Pittsburgh has yet to make that official.

Allen likely signed for the veteran’s minimum ($955,000), a figure that can be reduced to a cap hit of $570,000 plus his signing bonus if it is a one-year contract and the bonus does not exceed $65,000.

However the numbers are crunched, the Steelers are almost in compliance with the 2014 salary cap, and they have gotten to that point without having to make any really tough cuts. More difficult decisions loom as they clear room under the 2014 cap, but so far, so good for the Steelers.

ESPN analyst Todd McShay will be unveiling his third mock draft later today.

Here are links to a couple of more mock drafts. Both Pete Prisco of CBS Sports and Doug Farrar of SI.com have the Steelers addressing the secondary with their first-round pick in May.