Now that the lockout is over and teams are getting back to work, fans are probably asking, “Where do the Steelers stand?”
There are a couple of major issues that the Steelers face, and a small bit of activity that has already occurred that fans need to be aware of.
Firstly, the new collective bargaining agreement reduced the salary cap for the teams from $128 million to $120 million. The Steelers are already $10 million over the new salary cap. However, the team will not need to cut anyone to get under the new salary cap. Instead, it is likely that the team will restructure the contracts of several veterans in order to get under the $120 million cap.
There are now more free agents available than there have ever been in the history of the game. The Steelers have already signed 19 undrafted free agents. Surprisingly, only one of them was a cornerback. The Steelers appear to have signed Ike Taylor to a new contract, but cornerback still seems to be a glaring need for the team. Remember, William Gay and Bryant McFadden are the most likely candidates for the starting position opposite Ike Taylor. Yikes!
Despite only signing one undrafted free agent cornerback, the Steelers signed 4 undrafted free agent wide receivers. This was a surprise since WR seems to be one of the greatest strengths of the team. Mike Wallace had a breakout season last year. Hines Ward is back for another season. Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown both showed great promise as rookies, and Limas Sweed is healthy again and should challenge for playing time.
Despite the many rumors that have been circulating, don’t expect to see Plaxico Burress or Tiki Barber in a Steelers uniform this season.
It’s going to be an interesting week. The Steelers are unlikely to make many moves, despite the many high profile free agents who are available. As they always do, the Steelers will probably wait until the dust settles, and then pick up a backup cornerback at a cheap price.
One of the most interesting things to watch this summer is going to be what the Steelers do at offensive tackle. Both Max Starks and Willie Colon are back. I just can’t see a scenario where the Steelers keep both Willie Colon and Flozell Adams. Either of them would tie up too much money as a backup.
It’s going to be an exciting summer. But having just appeared in the Super Bowl, the Steelers come out of the gate far ahead of most teams in the NFL. This should be a good season for the Black and Gold.