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Matt Feiler receives NFL performance-based bonus for 2019

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 03/13/2020 - 9:32am
Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Steelers starting tackle earned extra salary through two programs designed to help players who are over performing their current contract

Thanks to two different programs available through the NFL and the players association, Steelers starting right tackle Matt Feiler almost doubled his 2019 salary.

Steelers right tackle Matt Feiler was a big winner in performance-based pay bonus. He got $387,578 in performance pay and $236,004 from a veteran pool. His total bonus compensation of $623,582 was third-highest among NFL players that qualified.

— Joe Rutter (@tribjoerutter) March 12, 2020

The NFL’s performance-based pay is a payout which is in accordance with the Collective Bargaining Agreement. It is designed to compensate players based upon their playing time and salary levels. If a player is participating in a high amount of the team’s snap count while on a low salary, the program is designed to help supplement their income. In addition to the performance-based pool, the NFL Players Association also has a program to fund a veteran compensation pool based on performance for any players with one or more accrued seasons.

The Steelers have had several players earn additional salary through these programs in recent years. In 2016, tackle Alejandro Villanueva and cornerback Ross Cockrell both earned additional compensation for their performances. The next year, cornerback Mike Hilton and tight and Jesse James both qualified for additional pay.

As for Feiler’s pay for the 2019 season, his $623,582 combined from both programs almost matches his salary for the season. With a salary of $645,000 in 2019, Feiler now earned over a million dollars for his 2019 campaign.

Although the Steelers offensive line did not live up to their expectations for the 2019 season, Matt Feiler was arguably the most consistent player. According to Pro Football Focus, Feiler was the highest rated offensive lineman for the Steelers with an overall score of 75.2 which rank him 20th among all tackles in the NFL.

Undrafted out of Bloomsburg in 2014, Feiler was originally signed by the Houston Texans and spent a season on their practice squad. After another preseason with the Texans, the Steelers signed Feiler to the practice squad in 2015 and 2016. He was activated for one game during the 2016 season before making the 53-man roster in 2017.

Currently restricted free agent, the Steelers have to make a decision on if they will offer Feiler a tender and at what level it would be for the 2020 season. Currently up tight against the salary cap, it would take some maneuvering for the team to make sure they retain their starting tackle.

If they wanted, the time is now for the Steelers to move on from Ben Roethlisberger

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 03/13/2020 - 7:52am
Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

Could the Pittsburgh Steelers want to move on from Big Ben? If so, the time is now!

Now is the time to move on from Ben Roethlisberger. That is not going to be a popular statement for Steelers Nation, or the faithful here at BTSC. Before you break out the torches and pitchforks to drive away the monster who is making such a vile statement, hear me out first.

Can Roethlisberger bounce back from major elbow surgery?

As fans, we do not know what kind of shape (besides round) Big Ben is in. The Steelers have left fans in the dark regarding the nature of the surgery. There has been rampant speculation that the surgery was the Tommy John variety, which GM Kevin Colbert did not dismiss or confirm. Such a major surgery puts his 2020 season into speculation, let alone his career. We have seen the Grizzly Adams beard and have wondered how many chins are being hidden by it. Roethlisberger has not been known for a stellar physique, even with a whole offseason to train. When will his elbow allow him to fully train and prepare for a full NFL season?

Perfect time with a quarterback rich free agency market.

I cannot think of a better time to be in the market for a potential franchise quarterback than 2020. While some may moan and groan about names such as Philip Rivers, (never missed a game) Jameis Winston, Teddy Bridgewater, Ryan Tannehill, Marcus Mariota, Case Keenum, and even Tom Brady and Drew Brees. Some quarterbacks on that list are off the table, others are not and would come in at a much cheaper price than our 15-year veteran would. Could Winston or Bridgewater resurrect their stalled careers, or at least be a bridge quarterback until the Steelers find a true franchise guy? A stagnant offense derailed the 2019 season even though the elite defense drug the inept offense to eight wins. The defense should remain intact and does not need a signal-caller who throws for 5,000 yards while leading the league in interceptions.

What has to happen to allow such bold moves?

The first aspect that has to be in play is a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). Why is this so important? Simply put, the Pittsburgh Steelers have to have the flexibility with their cap space not only to move on from our beloved 38-year-old quarterback. Under the current rules of the CBA, the Steelers’ hands are tied.

Post-June 1st designations.

The current CBA disallows June 1st designations. Why is this so important? The Steelers need cap space to bring another quarterback into the organization. The only way this is accomplished is cap space. The future Hall of Famer will count $33.5 million against the cap in 2020 but not all that money is guaranteed. If the Steelers move on from Big Ben, the team would eat $25 million in dead money and save a mere $8.5 million towards the cap. With a new CBA in place, it would allow June 1st designations. What happens when a team designates a player as a Post June 1st cut, the players guaranteed signing bonus can be split over two seasons. Now that $25 million cap hit turns into $12.5 million in 2020 and $12.5 million in 2021. The move creates $21 million in cap space for 2020.

The current CBA also has a frustrating quirk to it — the 30% rule. I have talked about this extensively in the offseason as the rule is hindering the way the Steelers do business. In a nutshell, a player who signs a new contract has to have his contract structured so they cannot be back-loaded through 2023. Let’s say Pittsburgh signed Bridgwater to a four-year deal. If 2020 was $10 million, 2021 could not be higher than $13 million, 2022 could not be higher than $16 million, and 2023 could not be higher than $19 million. The new CBA would eliminate the rule and return the Steelers’ ability to work contracts like they normally would.

I love Ben as much as the rest of you, but this is a purely business decision. The career year he had in 2018 was because of being the most imbalanced team in the NFL throwing passes for over 70 percent of offensive snaps. Does he really have another 5,000 yards in him or will he top those 16 interceptions because of inactivity and being out of shape? What if Ben is not ready at the start of the 2020 season? The team surely does not have any cap space to go out and grab a decent backup. Now the team would be forced to watch Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges duke it out for who gets thrown to the wolves? No thanks, we saw how that played out last season. That tandem is better served riding the pine and learning.

The time is now to turn the page and snag a quarterback to start for a year or two, or possibly become the next franchise quarterback, while the Steelers have arguably the best defense in the NFL.

Which defensive player could be the Steelers’ top draft pick?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 03/13/2020 - 6:31am
Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers don’t have a first round pick, but could they go with a defensive player in Round 2? Time to see who those players could be...

It’s no secret the Pittsburgh Steelers’ offense was their Achilles heel in 2019. With Hall of Fame quarterback Ben Roethlisberger out for the season, the revolving door of Mason Rudolph and undrafted free agent Devlin (Duck) Hodges was deployed at the most important position in football. The Steelers were the only team in the NFL who did not score 30 points in a single game all season and should be the focal point of the Steelers’ off-season. If the Steelers were to shock the world and go with a defensive selection at pick 49 who could be a possibility at that juncture that was too good to pass up?

An edge rusher could be the pick at 49 if the Steelers want to sure up the position post-Bud Dupree. Depth is also needed at the position with Anthony Chickillo on his way out and outside of the preseason, Ola Adeniyi and Tuzar Skipper are virtual unknowns.

Julian Okwara, EDGE, Notre Dame – Okwara had an impressive 2018 campaign but couldn’t improve on that as he was injured nine games into his senior season with a broken fibula. Okwara is 6’4”, 252lbs and looks like he could build upon that frame. His brother, Romeo, plays defensive end for the Detroit Lions and if Julian is headed for that frame, we’re in good shape. Okwara is athletic and possesses the tools to build upon to reach his potential. The former Notre Dame product can run the arc and flatten with ease, making it difficult to contain him, but he still lacks a counter move to keep tackles on their toes. There is a lot to build upon here and learning behind Dupree for a season would be super beneficial.

Joshua Uche, EDGE, Michigan – Uche has impressive production as far as tackles for loss and sacks go the past two seasons, totaling 18.5 TFL and 14.5 sacks. Uche was not even a starter last season when he produced 7 sacks. Uche has experience as an edge rusher and as an off-ball linebacker, his versatility making him that much more attractive as a prospect. Uche is an athletic prospect with a quick get off and can get around the corner very naturally, making him a problem when rushing the passer. If that’s not enough, Uche has a diversified pass rush arsenal to keep tackles guessing. As an outside linebacker he would be tasked to cover, and the former Wolverine is up to the task.

With the impending departure of Javon Hargrave, a pass rushing nose tackle who can also serve as depth at the position is needed. There are a few prospects that would be very tough to bypass if available at 49.

Ross Blacklock, IDL, TCU – Blacklock would be an absolute stud of an addition to this defense. He wreaks havoc at the point of attack, splitting blockers and exploiting gaps quickly to get into the laps of opposing quarterbacks. His athleticism is a very attractive trait as well, with his lateral quickness coming in handy against the run. Blacklock needs to work on holding his own at the point of attack and against the run. The former Horned Frog did miss the entire 2018 season with an Achilles injury, but rebounded very strong. Blacklock would be an instant starter at nose tackle and would be my pick to be the top backup at both defensive end spots.

Justin Madubuike, IDL, Texas A&M – A productive player in every facet of the game. The past two seasons combined, 22 tackles for loss and 11 sacks, 4 forced fumbles and a blocked kick. The former Aggie is frequently in the backfield and uses his athleticism to use a variety of pass rush moves to penetrate. There is a ton of traits to build off of to mold into an excellent one gapping nose tackle, but he will need to add to his frame. Needs to work on his get –off and explosion off the snap, but that can be coached up.

Only two positions mentioned here, with three being left out. Safety depth is surely needed, but with two starting safeties already at the helm, it would be absolutely earth shattering to see a player taken in round two that isn’t given a clear path to start. Cornerback was also left off this list with Joe Haden and Steven Nelson slotted as the outside starters and Mike Hilton and Cameron Sutton competing for the slot. Cornerback, for once it seems, isn’t a huge need, especially with Justin Layne selected in round three of last year’s NFL Draft. I’d be hard pressed to see a linebacker taken so early with other needs so apparent. This linebacker class is pretty deep, so I could see the Steelers waiting a while if they choose to draft one.

Let me know in the comments if there was a defensive player not mentioned that you’d like to see drafted at 49!


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