NFL from the Sidelines

Steelers release Moore, clear more cap space

The Steelers on Monday released veteran receiver Lance Moore, clearing just over $1 million in salary cap space,

The move came on the same day the NFL informed teams that the 2015 salary cap will be $143.28 million, an increase of $10 million from 2014.

The Steelers, under the cap rules, carried some $778,000 in cap space over from 2014 and will have an adjusted cap of $144.058 million.

The release of Moore, who had 14 receptions for 198 yards and two touchdowns in a disappointing 2014 season, leaves the Steelers at around $8.7 million under the cap.

All teams must be in cap compliance by next Monday.

After a strong start in the offseason, Moore got hurt in the preseason and never really clicked with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Then, by midseason, he was pushed aside with the emergence of rookie Martavis Bryant.

@ Some $4.5 million of the Steelers' cap space will be eaten up when the team tenders offers to restricted free agents Robert Golden, Antwon Blake and Will Johnson.

The Steelers could soften that blow by signing one or all of those players to long-term deals, particularly since all figure to be in the team's plans moving forward to some degree.

Golden, a safety, should enter 2015 as the team's primary backup at free safety and was special teams captain in 2014.

Blake acquitted himself well as the nickel safety at times in 2014 and also is a core special teams player.

And Johnson is the team's starting fullback.

@ The Steelers still likely have some housecleaning to do before free agency starts.

They have not yet restructured the deal of center Maurkice Pouncey, but could do so at a cap savings of as much as $3.8 million.

Some veteran players could be released as well. Safety Troy Polamalu would save $3.75 million immediately and $5.6 million if designated as a post-June 1 release.

Defensive ends Cam Thomas ($2 million) and Brett Keisel ($1.5 million) also could be released, though I think the team is leaning toward bringing Keisel back as a backup.

@ ProFootballTalk threw out a story over the weekend that Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell could get a four-game suspension for his DUI and marijuana arrest last August.

That's not happening. It will be two games, at most.

Read full post: Steelers release Moore, clear more cap space

Second wave of free agency is heating up

The second - or actually first - wave of free agency is heating up as teams rid themselves of veterans players with big contracts in order to get themselves in line with what the projected salary cap will be.

Because of that, in the past week, we've seen guys such as A.J. Hawk, Harry Douglas, Steven Jackson, Jacoby Jones and Mathias Kiwanuka cut loose in the past few days.

And the cuts will continue to come.

The good thing about these cuts is that other teams are able to sign these guys immediately instead of waiting until the start of the March 10 free agency period.

They also do not affect compensatory picks the following year since they aren't true free agents.

The bad thing? Often times the players being released are aging veterans who only have a year or two of football left in their bodies.

Still, the Steelers delved into this market last year and came away with Brice McCain and Lance Moore.

There could be an edge rusher or corner who just might interest the team this time around.

I continue to hear that Kansas City might have to part ways with Tamba Hali if the Chiefs have to come through with a big contract for Justin Houston - which they will.

If so, the Steelers would be very, very interested in Hali, even though, at 31, he doesn't fit their typical MO in free agency.

They could plug Hali, into their lineup opposite Jarvis Jones while also grooming his potential replacement, who will come in the draft.

A recent cut who might interest the Steelers is Jacoby Jones.

Mike Tomlin has always liked Jones as a return man and the Steelers, with their top three receiver set, wouldn't be forced to play Jones at a receiver position. He'd be No. 4.

He might also like a shot at playing the Ravens a couple of times per season after being released by the team.

The Steelers have a need for a return man and Jones remains one of the best in the business, even though he had some fumble issues last season. He hasn't been a fumbler throughout the course of his career, so last year could have been an anomaly.

@ Greg Bedard wrote on SI.com how it's amazing that the Steelers are tight against the cap each season.

He then pointed to the recent restructuring of deals of Marcus Gilbert, Maurkice Pouncey and Mike Mitchell as bad business.

Not really. The Steelers cleared $9.5 million with those moves and it's actually beneficial to both parties to do so.

In all three cases, the Steelers aren't moving a ton of money into the future. And they're just converting some salary into signing bonus. It's not that big of a deal.

For the players, they get a lump sum of money now instead of having to wait for it.

Bedard points to the team allowing Emmanuel Sanders to leave last year and possibly doing the same with Jason Worilds this year.

But the Steelers weren't going to pay Sanders big money last year - he got $15 million over three years - when they already had big money tied up in Antonio Brown.

Sanders went to Denver and had a good season. Good for him. But he wouldn't have had the same kind of year in Pittsburgh, not with Brown firmly established. The Steelers just don't throw the ball as much as the Broncos.

And despite Brown and Sanders being good friends, there's still a bit of a competition there between the two, who were selected in the same draft. Always has been, always will be.

As for Worilds, I think he's a good player. I think he wants to return to Pittsburgh and they want him to return. And I believe even if he does become a free agent in a couple of weeks, there's still a good shot he'll return to Pittsburgh.

That's what that $9.5 million in cap space that was just cleared up is for, re-signing Worilds or his replacement.Read full post: Second wave of free agency is heating up

 

 

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