Latest Steelers Buzz

Insider Only Salary breakdown for Steelers on “D” and Buzz on each position

Part II on Cap Situation

A few days ago we took a look at the offensive side of the ball, today we look at the defense where the Steelers have several restructure candidates.
Aaron Smith ($4.5 million salary), Casey Hampton ($6.076 cap hit), Larry Foote ($3 million cap hit) are among the candidates who could see their deals restructured.
Meanwhile, signing LaMarr Woodley (preliminary talks underway) and Troy Polamalu to long-term extensions are also options being mulled by the Steelers brass, scenarios that would help allieviate the Steelers cap situation before August 4th.
Woodley is carrying a $10.091 million cap hit and Polamalu has an $8.96 million cap hit.

Defensive Ends

1. Aaron Smith (35) – Contract Status: 2011: $4.5 million | 2012: UFA |
2. Brett Keisel (32) – Contract Status: 2011: $3.025 million | 2012: $2.825 million | 2013: $2.825 million |2014: UFA
3. Ziggy Hood (24) – Contract Status: 2011: $600,000 | 2012: $600,000 | 2013: $660,000 | 2014: UFA
Key Free Agents: Nick Eason
Incoming Rookies: Cameron Heyward – 2011 1st round pick
Latest Buzz: The Steelers have made a priority going younger with the first round selections of Ziggy Hood and Cameron Heyward.
Hood showed good promise in the second half of last season and the Steelers are likely to work Cameron Heyward in slowly early on.
Brett Keisel coming off a pro bowl type season, turns 33 in September and is carryng a $4.025 million cap hit this season.
The big question mark is 35 year old Aaron Smith whose health remains in question going into camp. Smith took a physical on Tuesday and expectations are if healthy, Smith will open up the season as the starter at left defensive end over Ziggy Hood.
The money factor will be coming into play this week as Smith is due $4.5 million this season and he’s a candidate to have his deal restructured.
Nick Eason always finds his way back on the roster and could be brough into camp for depth reasons.
Restructure Candidates: Aaron Smith

Defensive Tackles

1. Casey Hampton (33) – Contract Status: 2011: $3.91 million | 2012: $4.89 million | 2013: UFA
2. Steve McLendon (25) – Contract Status: 2011: $405,000 |
Key Free Agents: Chris Hoke
Latest Buzz: The Steelers have little depth at the position and are expected to look to resign Chris Hoke to shoreup the position for the short-term.
Casey Hampton who turns 34 in September, carries a cap hit of close to $6.1 million but is in no danger of being a salary cap casualty.
The Steelers though are probably anxious to see what kind of shape Hampton is going to show up in. Conditioning test is Thursday at 4:00 p.m.
Restructure Candidates: Casey Hampton

Outside Linebackers

1. LaMarr Woodley (26) – Contract Status: 2011: $10.091 million (Franchise tag, fully guaranteed) | 2012: UFA
2. James Harrison (33) – Contract Status: 2011: $3.66 million, including $900,000 roster bonus due on first day of league year | 2012: $5.315 million | 2013: $6.32 million | 2014: $7.325 million | 2015: UFA
3. Jason Worilds (23) – Contract Status: 2011: $405,000 | 2012: $490,000 | 2013: $575,000 | 2014: UFA
Incoming Rookies: Chris Carter 2011 5th round pick
Latest Buzz: Reducing LaMarr Woodley’s cap hit and reaching a multi-year deal is among the top priorities for the Steelers.
James Harrison at age 33 is showing no signs of slowing down and this season looks like another development season for Jason Worilds.
Worilds though could emerge as a situational pass rusher in passing downs.
The Steelers last season opened the season with four outside linebackers but finished with three outside backers, after releasing 2010 4th round pick Thaddeus Gibson.
There could be a spot for Chris Carter who’s considered a long-term project but he will have to make his mark on special teams like many rookies.
Restructure Candidates: LaMarr Woodley Long-term Extension

Inside Linebackers

1. Lawrence Timmons (25) – Contract Status: 2011: $650,000 | 2012: UFA |
2. James Farrior (36) – Contract Status: 2011: $2.825 million | 2012: $2.825 million | 2013: UFA
3. Larry Foote (31) – Contract Status: 2011: $2.4 million | 2012: $3 million | 2013: UFA
4. Stevenson Sylvester (23) – Contract Status: 2011: $405,000 | 2012: $405,000 | 2013: RFA |
Key Free Agents: Keyaron Fox
Latest Buzz: Lawrence Timmons who linebacker coach Keith Butler regards as the Steelers best linebacker, is a top priority for the Steelers to sign to a long-term extension. Just 25 years old, Timmons has the look of another Steelers All-Pro linebacker for years to come.
James Farrior had a bounce back season in 2010 but is 36 and you have to wonder when he’s going to hit a wall. Farrior though keeps himself in excellent shape and should find ways to remain productive.
I am hearing that the Steelers want to keep Larry Foote but may look to restructure his deal as he carries a $3 million cap hit which is steep for a backup inside linebacker.
The Steelers like Stevenson Slyvester a lot.
There is believed to be no chance that Keyaron Fox returns.
Keep an eye on Mario Harvey making a play for a roster spot in camp.
Restructure Candidates: Larry Foote
Extension Candidates: Lawrence Timmons

Cornerbacks

1. Ike Taylor (31) – Contract Status: Signed through 2014
2. Bryant McFadden (29) – Contract Status: 2011: $2.5 million | 2012: $2.5 million | 2013: UFA |
3. Crezdon Butler (24) – Contract Status: 2011: $405,000 | 2012: $405,000 | 2013: RFA |
4. Keenan Lewis (25) – Contract Status: 2011: $480,000 | 2012: RFA |
Key Free Agents: William Gay, Anthony Madison
Incoming Rookies: Curtis Brown 2011 3rd round pick, Cortez Allen 2011 4th round pick
Latest Buzz: The Steelers locked up their top priority with the signing of Ike Taylor late Tuesday night.
The Steelers are not expected to be spending much more money at the position and key for them is a turnaround from Bryant McFadden and a young player emerging.
Bryant McFadden returns and the coaching staff will look to get him back to his level from 2008. A key for McFadden will also be staying healthy.
The Steelers see promise in Crezdon Butler but just don’t know what they have in him yet. This is a big training camp for him and an even bigger camp for Keenan Lewis who’s in serious jeporady of losing his roster spot.
Meanwhile, the Steelers feel 2011 3rd round pick Curtis Brown could contribute in the nickle package.
2011 is expected to be a devleopment year for 4th round pick Cortez Allen who’s raw. The hope for the Steelers is to groom Allen into a possible starter by 2012.
He has excellent size and the Steelers believe he’s an Ike Taylor type corner.
With Taylor in the fold, William Gay’s future is very much up in the air.

Safeties

1. Troy Polamalu (30) – Contract Status: 2011: $6.4 million | 2012: UFA |
2. Ryan Clark (31) – Contract Status: 2011: $2.5 million | 2012: $3 million | 2013: $3.5 million | 2014: UFA |
3. Will Allen (29) – Contract Status: 2011: $1.265 million | 2012: $1.28 million | 2013: UFA |
4. Ryan Mundy (26)
Latest Buzz: When Troy Polamalu is healthy, this isn’t a position to worry about but when he’s not, it surely is.
Although the Steelers don’t want to believe it, Ryan Clark’s vulnerable in the passing game and at times is a liability. Clark is at his best against the run.
A best case scenario would be for a Ryan Mundy to develop into a viable candidate in coverage schemes to give the Steelers an option in passing downs.

About The Author

William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at wdepaoli@insidepittsburghsports.com

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