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The Steelers are near the bottom of the barrel in terms of remaining Salary Cap space

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 03/24/2020 - 12:46pm

The Pittsburgh Steelers have made several moves in Free Agency, and they don’t have a ton of salary cap space left to make any more acquisitions.

The Pittsburgh Steelers were near the bottom of the NFL prior to the start of the new league year as it pertains to salary cap space heading into the unknown without a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).

Just a few days later the NFL and NFLPA signed a new CBA, the salary cap increased to $198.2 million dollars and the Steelers started doing what they do to create cap room to make moves.

Players were released and contracts were restructured, suddenly the Steelers had the space to sign Derek Watt, Eric Ebron, Stefen Wisniewski and take on Chris Wormley’s contract after the trade with the Baltimore Ravens.

With those four moves done, the question now remains whether the Steelers have enough salary cap space to make another move, and some just want to know how much cap space they have remaining just weeks away from the 2020 NFL Draft.

Albert Breer of the NFL Network lists the 10 teams with the least amount of cap space, as of March 23rd, and the Steelers find themselves on the list.

Per the NFL's internal cap report, 10 teams with least space as of this AM.

1. Chiefs $555K
2. Patriots $2.80M
3. Saints $9.02M
4. Steelers $10.64M
5. Falcons $14.28M
6. Packers $14.80M
7. Cardinals $15.71M
8. Ravens $17.42M
9. Niners $19.49M
10. Rams $19.65M

— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) March 23, 2020

The Steelers’ $10.64 million quoted above had not factored in all of the signings including Ebron and Dangerfield as well as the Wormley trade. BTSC deputy editor Dave Schofield has the Steelers current salary cap at least $4 million to the good. This is just a speculation as the exact financials of Ebron’s deal have yet to be released, although we do know it’s a total of $12 million over two years.

This salary cap number isn’t as bad as many might have thought, but it isn’t money the team can just throw around at another free agent. The team needs to allocate money for their 2020 draft class, as well as to sign the practice squad players to contracts.

However, it doesn’t mean the Steelers couldn’t create more salary cap space if they felt it was necessary. Two players in particular, David DeCastro and Stephon Tuitt, could restructure their current contracts to turn the $4-5 million into around $8-10 million in cap space.

Enough to make another move if they felt it was one which could help the team get back to the promised land in 2020.

While the rest of the sports world has hit the stop, or pause, button, the NFL is moving full steam ahead towards the NFL Draft in April. Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the best, and up to date, news on the Steelers as they prepare for the offseason and the 2020 regular season.

Maybe the Steelers are being sincere when they say they’re comfortable with their QB situation

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 03/24/2020 - 11:15am
Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Jameis Winston to Pittsburgh? Maybe that’s your dream, but the Steelers seem to be content with Mason Rudolph as their backup quarterback.

That Jameis Winston to the Steelers “rumor” just won’t die.

I put the word rumor in quotes because there never really have been any hot rumors that Winston, formally of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers , who decided that the soon-to-be 43-year old Tom Brady was their VERY immediate future at quarterback, is coming to Pittsburgh.

Just a bunch of speculation. Actually, forget rumors and speculation, it feels like the football world is more akin to a good matchmaking friend that thinks Winston and the Steelers would just be perfect together and won’t shut up until the two of them agree to a date.

Even Peter King, the king of all football writers (no offense to Dave Schofield), said the Steelers would be the “best place” for Wintson as a backup who is willing to be a “starter-in-waiting” (my words, not his) in his Monday Morning in America column on, well, Monday. But starter-in-waiting behind Ben Roethlisberger does mean the same thing as “successor,” which King does say Winston, 26, could be in his article.

King also says he doesn’t think there’s much of a chance of it happening.

Of course there isn’t.

Why would there be? Yes, I know Winston led the league in interceptions last year with 30, but he also led the NFL in passing yards with 5,109.

Winston also earned nearly $21 million in 2019 according to Spotrac.com.

I’m guessing he’s going to want close to that kind of money again in 2020. Will he get it? Doubtful at this point, but he’s unlikely to settle for less than $10 million. Would the Steelers be willing to pay that much for a backup quarterback/starter-in-waiting?

I doubt it, and even if they would, why would Winston want to settle for that role in Pittsburgh? Because the starting jobs have dried up? Maybe. But, again, he earned nearly $21 million last year, which means he has a lot of “bleep you” money in the bank. And that might persuade him to sit back and wait for someone to get hurt—someone always gets hurt. And if that happens, there might be an opportunity for the 2015 number one overall pick from Florida State to swoop in and save the day and become some desperate team’s starter, while also earning a huge paycheck.

Look, I get it, the possibility is intriguing. You have a big, athletic quarterback just sitting out there—a player whose pedigree couldn’t be greater. Winston is someone who looks so much like a younger version of Ben Roethlisberger, a 16-year veteran who is still not out of the woods as it pertains to his surgically repaired 38-year old elbow.

Maybe you don’t get it. Maybe you think Winston is garbage (to use a popular way to describe an athlete on social media). Perhaps you think Mason Rudolph, the 2018 third-round pick with a first-round grade (at least by the Steelers), is a better option to be Roethlisberger’s backup/starter-in-waiting.

Crazy? Maybe, but, hey, that’s what Pittsburgh believes. In fact, Art Rooney II, the guy who is responsible for paying quarterbacks and other people who work for the Steelers, said that months ago.

Could he change his mind? Could head coach Mike Tomlin and general manager Kevin Colbert persuade him to bring Winston in for a meeting/interview/workout? It seems unlikely that there would even be any persuading, especially after Tomlin went on national television recently and rather aggressively and pointedly defended Rudolph after Browns defensive end Myles Garrett doubled-down on his racial slur allegation from last November and the infamous brawl in Cleveland.

Speaking of Tomlin, what does he usually say about paint? If you have red paint, you paint the barn red. If you have yellow paint, you paint the barn yellow. If you have blue paint....you get the drift.

As it pertains to Mason Rudolph, it would appear that Tomlin and all the other important decision makers over on the South Side of Pittsburgh feel that he is a perfectly acceptable paint for barns and other such surfaces if the first coat starts to fade.

Maybe instead of wishing oh so hard for Jameis Winston to become a reality, we should just take the Steelers for their word.

Projecting the 2020 Pittsburgh Steelers starting lineup based on their current roster

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 03/24/2020 - 9:00am
Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

With the NFL draft yet to take place, how would the Steelers starting lineup look on opening day with the players currently on the roster?

The Steelers’ 2020 roster has taken shape significantly since the beginning of the league year last week. With several free-agent acquisitions as well as retaining a number of players from 2019, the Steelers have looked to fill the voids on the roster which gives them freedom in the 2020 NFL draft to go in any number of directions.

With the Steelers working under the philosophy of not expecting their rookies to start, many of the players on the current roster will begin training camp at the top of the depth chart. So who would be the starters on the 2020 Pittsburgh Steelers team as we stand right now? For the most part, the majority of these positions are how many expect. In some cases, I will just have to fill in my best estimate as to where I think the Steelers will go. Of course, feel free to leave any changes or your own personal starting lineup in the comments below.

Offense

QB: Ben Roethlisberger
RB: James Conner
FB: Derek Watt*
WR: JuJu Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson, James Washington*
TE: Vance McDonald, Eric Ebron*
LT: Alejandro Villanueva
LG: Stefen Wisniewski
C: Maurkice Pouncey
RG: David DeCastro
RT: Matt Feiler

* depending on which formation the Steelers begin will determine if they are starter.

NOTES: It’s a difficult call on who will be the projected starter a tight end, but with both players being highly utilized I’m not sure it will really matter. The more important item up for debate is the starting left guard. If it Wisniewski can win the job, then Feiler can stay at right tackle. If not, Feiiler would bump down to LG with Chukwuma Okorafor or Zach Banner fighting for the starting tackle position. However it pans out, it should be due to players excelling rather than somebody underperforming.

Defense

DT: Cameron Heyward, Stephon Tuitt
NT: Tyson Alualu*
OLB: T.J. Watt, Bud Dupree
ILB: Devin Bush, Vince Williams
CB: Steven Nelson, Joe Haden, Mike Hilton*
S: Minkah Fitzpatrick, Terrell Edmunds

*it will depend on which personal grouping the Steelers are in to determine who is starting

NOTES: I only addressed the base and nickel defense as I’m really not sure what the Steelers are thinking when they go dime. As you can see, all the starters from 2018 are intact except for nose tackle. I have penciled in Tyson Alualu because of his exceptional play last season, so it would be nice to see the Steelers get him on the field as much as they can. While Chris Wormley or Isaiah Buggs could also possibly be considered, I believe if teams know Daniel McCullers is coming on the field anytime the Steelers are in base 3-4 defense they will do their best to exploit the situation by their personal packages.

Specialties

K: Chris Boswell
P: Jordan Berry
LS: Kameron Canaday

NOTES: I almost didn’t even include the positions, but they are worth noting. Right now these are the only players at their position on the roster so it’s who starts for the time being. The only player I see who could possibly lose their job would be Jordan Berry.

So how do these starting lineups look for the 2020 Pittsburgh Steelers? Has the defense maintained enough to be dominant again this season? Has the offense improved, especially with the addition of Ben Roethlisberger? As I said before, leave your thoughts on who could be the starters in Week 1 as well as any position you believe the Steelers could still afford to improve their starters.

Steelers Report Card: Grading the acquisition of TE Eric Ebron

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 03/24/2020 - 7:45am
Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

BTSC breaks out the red pen and assigns grades to the Steelers after the signing of free agent Eric Ebron

The Steelers front office felt that Eric Ebron was worth a free agent contract without asking you or any of us. That’s okay. The right people are paid to make those decisions, while we judge from afar.

For some reason, I’ve been given the responsibility to rate the performance of Kevin Colbert, Omar Khan and company on nothing but speculation. It’s not easy, but I’ll give it a whirl. Despite my less than prestigious BTSC teaching certificate, I have to issue the necessary disclaimer. You know the story; of course, I’m not a football coach, or a teacher, but I play one in blogs and podcasts. All offseason, I had certain expectations that the Steelers would be sitting at home grounded and watching Netflix without the chillin’ while their friends are going at it at Inspiration Point. But then a group of Steelers banded together much like the thousands of slaves that stood up, banded together and declared “I am Spartacus” to save Kirk Douglas’ character (in the 1960 classic Spartacus) from execution and restructured their deals to free up cap space. So voila, we are back in business. Except those slaves were ultimately executed. But hopefully you get the point.

Assessing game day grades is an extremely difficult and somewhat thankless task. While the coaches’ grades, of course, are what counts the most, the media and fans can’t help but evaluate as well. All letter grades are simply based on the eye test of somebody watching at home. That’s me. Then the masses come in like a flock of seagulls and poop on the efforts of the author, only to fly away and hide behind their online moniker.

Grading personnel decisions is even tougher. We have to wait nearly six months to actually know if our grades our on the money. This time I decided to enlist my friends to help. Since I don’t have any...I recruited a few of my colleagues at BTSC. They resisted, but relented. But I now have to name my next five kids Jefferson, Lancelot, Dave, Tony and Cliff Harris is Still a Punk. Joke’s on them though. I think the vasectomy took.

With that being electronically said, let’s take a look at BTSC’s early perceptions:

TE Eric Ebron - Indianapolis Colts Overall Grade: A-

Eric Ebron came at a much lower price tag than I expected. The two-year/$12 million dollar deal has the possibility for both extreme risk and high reward. The risk is that Ebron missed 13 games in six NFL seasons and was shut down last year due to surgery on both ankles, but when healthy Ebron could put up great numbers like his 2018 season when the UNC Tar Heel has 66 catches for 750 yards and 13 touchdowns. Through his first six seasons, Ebron’s stats (except for playing 19 less games) were nearly identical to Heath Miller’s first six seasons.

Miller 102 games, 286 catches, 3233 yards, 29 touchdowns

Ebron 83 games, 283 catches, 3195 yards, 27 touchdowns

While Ebron is not nearly the blocker that Miller was, he’s a dangerous weapon for Roethlisberger and shows that the Steelers are all in for 2020.

Tony Defeo: A

Great pickup, which gives Ben another weapon and turns the tight end position into a strength.

Jeff Hartman: B

His injury history scares me, but his talent is undeniable. The red-zone threat the Steelers desperately need.

Lance Williams: A

Ebron provides explosiveness at the Tight End position and gives the Steelers the ability to attacks defenses in 12 personnel.

Dave Schofield: B-

Ebron has the potential to be a fantastic signing. He also has the potential to really hurt because of how much it cost if it doesn’t pan out. And Steelers fans still haven’t gotten over Ladarius Green. So there are all kinds of cautious feelings when it comes to signing a tight end like this.

K.T. Smith (CHISAP): A-

I speculated on signing him back in February and was told by many we’d never be able to afford him. To get him for 2/$12 million is great. If he can stay healthy he is precisely what we needed in the passing game - a field-stretching TE. Even if he misses time, the contract makes it worth the gamble.

Bryan Anthony Davis: B-

The success of Ebron may hinge on health, his own and that of Ben Roethlisberger. He’s an excellent weapon In the red zone and will open up opportunities for others in the offense as well. He does have the potential to drop balls though and he needs to stay healthy and be paired with a great quarterback. If the planets align just right, this is a huge signing.

Now it is your turn to play teacher. Use the polls and the comments section below. We can compare notes in the teachers lounge.

The Pittsburgh Steelers value continuity, and it's about to pay off

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 03/24/2020 - 6:30am

The coronavirus and social distancing has the potential to alter the landscape of the NFL. The Steelers may just be the beneficiary.

I don't know about you, but I have always wondered just how important the NFL's off season team activities actually are. Mind you, I am not suggesting they have no value, but do the benefits outweigh the risks? The risks being injuries, and unnecessary drama in some cases.

This new normal of an off season, where we adhere to social distancing restrictions while trying to survive during a pandemic, has the potential to reveal just how valuable off season team building activities really are. It very well may alter the competitive landscape of the NFL. Teams with superior leadership and familiarity playing together will have a greater competitive advantage than usually enjoyed during a normal season.

OTAs are often mandatory, with a few exceptions. The more experienced and valuable the player, the more leeway that player has to be missing in action, excused or not. Most team executives and coaches seem perfectly fine with the occasional absentee, especially when the player is an established veteran. Soon to be Hall of Famer Troy Polamalu had his own off season training regimen on the west coast, and was often a no-show at off season activities.

The Steelers stayed in touch, and seemed fine with Troy's absence, seeing how he always showed up at training camp in excellent condition. Although the Steelers themselves had no problem with this arrangement, not everybody approved actually. A certain segment of the Pittsburgh media thought Polamalu should have been required to attend.

Reminiscent of the obsessed principal from Ferris Bueller's Day Off, some members of the local media couldn't accept that Troy didn't have to follow the same schedule as his fellow teammates. This resulted in the annual off season articles questioning the effectiveness of his personal training routines, especially if he suffered a soft tissue injury during any part of the season.

The same writers also questioned his commitment to the team and his leadership skills. They surmised that he was missing opportunities to help teach his younger teammates valuable lessons, both verbal and by example. Mind you, this was concerns voiced by the media, not the Steelers brass.

A quiet man of great character, Troy handled the criticism like he handled every situation, with decorum and class. However, Troy didn't appreciate the unnecessary drama. So much so, Troy regularly attended OTAs toward the latter part of his career, probably to avoid the headache. Not sure if Troy's presence made that big a difference, but it definitely gave the media one less thing to harp on.

There was no discernible difference in Troy's on the field performance, nor increase in the probability of injury, based solely on his OTA participation. Only the young men blessed to learn valuable lessons in the presence of a all time great truly know the full impact of his attendance, both in their careers and personal lives.

Most off season activities are glorified walk throughs/meet and greets. They hold precious little value to the experienced players, especially those returning individuals familiar with the playbook and teammates. However, they are essential for any newcomer or draftee.

The newcomers familiarize themselves with their teammates, coaches, and playbooks. The coaches instruct them on what they need to work on till training camp, then send them on their merry way.

Social distancing mandates may very well impact or eliminate OTAs for every team this year. That is valuable instructional time lost for newcomers with coaches, who always feel they never have enough already.

One would have to believe this seemingly inevitable development will tilt the competitive playing field of the NFL in favor of the more experienced teams. It would stand to reason that rosters composed mainly of individuals that have competed together for multiple seasons would have a easier time incorporating newcomers into the fold, resulting in a distinct advantage for those franchises.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have a impressive mix of experience and youth returning this season. They have experienced some turnover in personnel, but nothing unexpected. The free agent signings have been classic Steelers, solid additions on team friendly deals. Another influx of talent is on the horizon with the NFL Draft, where hopefully the Steelers bring home another nice haul.

The Steelers enjoy experienced veteran leadership on both sides of the ball, coupled with an established coaching staff. They have a winning culture already in place, respect earned by being one of the NFL's most successful franchises.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have long valued loyalty from their players, and acted in kind by taking care of their own whenever possible. See Ryan Shazier for reference.

I believe the way the Steelers have chosen to conduct their business over the years offers them a distinct advantage as we proceed into this off season of uncertainty.

Podcast: Are the Steelers done making free agent moves?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 03/24/2020 - 5:30am

In the latest episode of “Steelers Q&A” show, we break down all the news you need to know surrounding the Black-and-Gold.

The Steelers have made three free agent signings from other teams and a trade as well when many thought they’d be sitting home on prom night? Are they done for now? Join Bryan Anthony Davis and Tony Defeo as they wade through the Steelers news of the day. As always, you will be asked to participate in the live chat.

Take a look at the rundown for the latest episode of the BTSC podcast The Steelers Q&A Show. On this show Bryan Anthony Davis and Tony Defeo break down all things Steelers!

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Notes
  • Are the Steelers done making moves for right now or do they have another transaction up their sleeve?
  • Week in Review
  • Steelers Q&A
  • and MUCH MORE!

Bryan Davis and Tony Defeo, of BTSC, walk you through everything you need to know regarding the Black-and-gold.

If you haven’t heard, we have a YouTube channel, and the main reason for this is to increase the sound quality on our shows. But if you’re a visual learner you can watch the show below. Be sure to subscribe to our channel!

If you missed the live show, be sure to check out all episodes on the following platforms:

Apple Users: CLICK HERE
Spotify: CLICK HERE
Google Play: CLICK HERE

If you’re old-school and just want the audio, you can listen to it in the player below.

Black and Gold Links: Chris Wormley is ready to make his mark with the Steelers

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 03/24/2020 - 4:30am
Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

Time to check on the latest news surrounding the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Pittsburgh Steelers 2019 season is officially over. After finishing the year 8-8, the Steelers, and their vast fan base, has another long offseason awaiting them. Just because the games are done doesn’t mean we stop providing you with features, commentary and opinions to tide you over throughout the offseason!

Today in the black-and-gold links article we take a look at how Chris Wormley is ready to make his mark with the black-and-gold.

Let’s get to the news:

Wormley ready to ‘flip the switch’

By: Teresa Varley, Steelers.com

When Chris Wormley first got the phone call from his agent, he was taken by surprise. He had no idea it was coming, no idea what he was about to tell him.

But when he hung up from the call, the reality hit. His football life had changed considerably.

In an instant he went from playing for the Baltimore Ravens to being traded to their biggest rival, the Pittsburgh Steelers.

”I got a call from my agent and then a little while later I got a call from Eric DeCosta, the General Manager for the Ravens, and then Kevin Colbert gave me a call about 20 minutes later,” said Wormley over the phone on Monday from his home in Baltimore. “It was those three calls right in a row, you are going to Pittsburgh.

”I was definitely a little shocked. One, because I got traded. Two, because it was a trade in the division, which rarely ever happens, which is kind of interesting to think about. Then excited. A new opportunity. A fresh start.

”Obviously, Pittsburgh is a great organization. It has a great culture. The teammates I am going to have now are some of the best in the league. I am excited for the opportunity and excited to get ready.”

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

Mark Madden: Would signing Jameis Winston really help the Steelers?

By: Mark Madden, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

A lot of people want Jameis Winston to be the Steelers’ backup quarterback.

None of those people run the Steelers.

ESPN talking heads Dan Orlovsky and Marcus Spears lead the campaign, joined by Chris Simms at NBC Sports. Winston would benefit learning under Mike Tomlin and watching Ben Roethlisberger, then become the starter when Roethlisberger retires.

Winston would surely be helped by that scenario. The first overall pick in the 2015 draft, Winston’s career needs a reset after throwing 30 interceptions with Tampa Bay last year. Mostly, Winston needs a job.

But how does that help the Steelers? Unless Winston plays for free, how do the Steelers fit his salary under their cap? He just tossed 30 interceptions. That’s 14 more than Roethlisberger in 2018, and Pittsburgh went nuts over that. (A few local media folk who buried Roethlisberger for those picks want the Steelers to get Winston now. Huh?)

The Steelers seem to have zero interest in Winston. They appear comfortable with Mason Rudolph as the backup, whether they should or not.

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • The Steelers are doing their part to help their community cope and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Steelers announce donation to United Way

By: Steelers.com

The Pittsburgh Steelers announced a $100,000 donation to the United Way Emergency Basic Needs Fund to help against the fight of the COVID-19 virus, it was announced today.

”The United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania has always played a major role in helping our community,” Steelers President Art Rooney II said. “During these unprecedented times in our country, we want to make sure those in need have the financial support to rally in our community. We are grateful for the efforts of all the heroes, volunteers and first responders during this crisis, and we hope this donation will assist the United Way in their efforts.”

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic the United Way has mobilized to support families that have been economically impacted. The United Way’s 24/7 2-1-1 has also established a formal arrangement to assist the Allegheny County Health Department, which is getting hundreds of calls a day.

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • BTSC articles you may have missed...

The best free agents still available for the Steelers

You like the Steelers’ free agent pick ups? There are plenty to thank for that...

Grading the addition of offensive lineman Stefen Wisinewski

The addition of Eric Ebron is a game-changer for the Steelers

A mock draft to help you get through your day

  • Social Media Madness

#Steelers #Browns pic.twitter.com/SJHLkdTHRT

— Old Time Football (@Ol_TimeFootball) March 1, 2020

Look how physical they were playing in the 1983 pro bowl. Sweetness vs Jack Lambert pic.twitter.com/AyKwc791A1

— Martin Brian Ansah (@DaAnsahonSports) October 7, 2019

Need an at-home workout program?

Dust off your VCR because @Nelson_Island has you covered pic.twitter.com/HIEpP5qtZo

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) March 23, 2020

See a puppy, send a puppy. #NationalPuppyDay pic.twitter.com/rYMhOIAmHQ

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) March 23, 2020

.@TeamJuJu has made his way into the stands to wave his #TerribleTowel with #SteelersNation. Can you find him? pic.twitter.com/wZBV6rneU9

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) March 23, 2020

If you like the Steelers’ offseason acquisitions, you have 1,019 NFL players to thank

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 03/23/2020 - 2:45pm
Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Without the new CBA, a lot of the moves the Steelers have made would not have been possible

For much of the NFL offseason, they were many questions about how teams could conduct business as we waited the fate of the NFL and the NFLPA agreeing on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. Since the proposal passed on Sunday, the business teams have conducted became such a whirlwind that many forget about how important the CBA was in the way teams made their various moves.

Specifically for the Steelers, there are two main things which were greatly affected by them not having to abide by the “30% rule.” In case we have so quickly forgotten exactly what the 30% rule was which had been in place for the 2020 offseason, it means any player’s salary from a contract had to abide by the rule where the base salary (along with bonuses a player was likely to reach) could not have fluctuated either above or below 30% of their base salary the previous year. Because this rule is no longer in place, there are two main things the Steelers were able to do which they would have been severely limited otherwise.

Contract Restructures

The Steelers were able to trim over $23 million off of their salary cap for 2020 by restructuring many players. Vance McDonald, Chris Boswell, Joe Haden, Steven Nelson, Ben Roethlisberger, and Maurkice Pouncey all converted a large portion of their base salary for 2020 into a signing bonus so it could be split evenly across the remaining years of the contract. Other than Boswell, all of these players only have two years remaining so half of the money converted was saved by pushing it to next season.

Had the 30% rule been in place, the Steelers ability to restructure contracts would have been basically nonexistent. In the case of Ben Roethlisberger, he saved the team nearly $10 million in salary cap space for 2020 in his restructure, but had the 30% rule been in place only about $3.2 million would have been able to be kicked down the road. Many of the other players would not have been able to restructure their contract at all. For example, Maurkuce Pouncey would not have been able to do a restructure as his current contract could not have converted anything into a base salary and stayed compliant to the 30% rule.

So without the 30% rule being lifted for the 2020 season, the Steelers would be looking at almost $20 million which they saved in restructures that would not have been available to them. Without the money they saved, the Steelers would not have been able to sign all of their own players to new deals, offer tenders to restricted free agents, and use the franchise tag. With the cost of these things being over $26 million and the Steelers only saving $16 million with the players they cut or retired, there would have been some tough decisions as to who to keep even from the 2019 squad.

Structure of Free Agent Signings

One forgotten aspect of not having to work under the 30% rule is how the Steelers were able to structure the contracts of their newly signed free agents. While Stefen Wisniewski had a contract which would be easy to fit under the 30% rule, even the deal for Derek Watt would not have fit into these parameters. With the third year of the deal for Watt being much more than the other two ($2.75 million base and $1 million roster bonus), the jump in his base salary from $1 million to $1.75 million from year one to year two would not have even been allowed had the CBA not been accepted.

As for Eric Ebron, the financials of his deal have not yet been released at this time. If I were to estimate a reasonable structure, I would assume Ebron would get a $6 million signing bonus with a $1 million base salary for 2020 and a $5 million base salary for 2021. Please do not think these numbers are the actual deal, but I’m just using them for this example. If this were to be the deal, Ebron would count $4 million against the In 2020 and $8 million against the cap I n 2021. Obviously, the jump from $1 million to $5 million in base salary doesn’t come anywhere close to following the 30% rule. To sign Ebron, his hit to the salary cap this year would be even higher than it will most likely end up.

It’s difficult to say exactly how the Steelers and other NFL teams would have structured free-agent contracts should their hands have been tied with this provision. Luckily, we don’t have to worry about it.

On Sunday, March 15, 2020, the NFLPA voted to pass the proposed Collective Bargaining Agreement by the narrowest of margins. The 1019 players who voted for the deal versus the 959 who voted against it did many front offices and fans a huge favor by removing the handcuffs which were in place for doing business this year. As for whether it was a wise decision based on the rest of the deal, that is a whole other discussion. But as for the Pittsburgh Steelers 2020 roster as it currently stands, it would look much different had the CBA not passed.

The best remaining NFL Free Agents the Steelers could target

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 03/23/2020 - 1:05pm
Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers don’t have a ton of salary cap space remaining, but it doesn’t mean they can’t create more space for another move in free agency.

The Pittsburgh Steelers had four player acquisitions last week, and it has their fan base in a frenzy as they anticipate the upcoming 2020 season. The team acquired fullback Derek Watt, tight end Eric Ebron and guard Stefen Wisinewski via free agency. Shortly following the addition of Ebron it was announced the team traded with the Baltimore Ravens, only the second time this has happened since 1998, to acquire defensive lineman Chris Wormley.

Fans were able to take a breath over the weekend, and most would agree the team is essentially done making moves ahead of the 2020 NFL Draft. But that might not be the case.

The Steelers had just over $11 million in cap space before signing Ebron and taking on Wormley’s contract, but it doesn’t mean they won’t be able to create more space to potentially make another move, or two.

All it would take is restructuring David DeCastro’s and/or Stephon Tuitt’s contract to give them the space necessary to sign players to a new contract. To be honest, the longer these players sit on the open market, the lower their cost is for whichever team wants to sign them.

Thanks to ProFootballTalk, they have the Top 25 remaining free agents on the market. You can see the list below, but not every player would be a good, or welcome, fit with the black-and-gold. Who would you like to see the Steelers sign? Maybe a player like safety Vonn Bell, to help add some quality depth at the safety position behind Minkah Fitzpatrick and Terrell Edmunds?

Let us know in the comment section below, and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Pittsburgh Steelers as they prepare for the 2020 NFL Draft at the end of April.

Top 25 Remaining Free Agents

1. Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston

2. Seahawks EDGE Jadeveon Clowney

3. Jets WR Robby Anderson

4. Titans CB Logan Ryan

5. Buccaneers WR Breshad Perriman

6. Browns Safety Damarious Randall

7. Broncos DL Shelby Harris

8. Vikings EDGE Everson Griffen

9. Ravens CB Jimmy Smith

10. Broncos DE Derek Wolfe

11. Eagles OT Jason Peters

12. Chiefs WR Demarcus Robinson

13. Panthers OT Daryl Williams

14. Eagles CB Ronald Darby

15. Saints Safety Vonn Bell

16. Chiefs CB Bashaud Breeland

17. Buccaneers DT Ndamukong Suh

18. Seahawks OL Germain Ifedi

19. Eagles LB Nigel Bradham

20. Giants LB Markus Golden

21. Texans RB Carlos Hyde

22. Packers CB Tramon Williams

23. Buccaneers OT Demar Dotson

24. Colts WR Devin Funchess

25. Vikings CB Xavier Rhodes

The Steelers have been tremendous with their 2nd Round NFL Draft picks under Mike Tomlin

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 03/23/2020 - 11:39am
Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

While the Pittsburgh Steelers haven’t been automatic with their first round picks, their second round picks have been more than stellar.

While NFL Free Agency continues, the big news has died down with most available players finding new homes. What remains on the horizon is the 2020 NFL Draft, and for Pittsburgh Steelers fans, there is a high level of excitement for the upcoming selection process.

Yes, excitement even for a team who doesn’t possess a first round pick, thanks to the trade with the Miami Dolphins for safety Minkah Fitzpatrick. Why would/should fans still be excited for a draft which doesn’t start until the 49th pick in the second round?

Simple. Because the Steelers have been tremendous with their second round picks since Mike Tomlin took the helm in 2007. Just take a look at their 2nd round picks since that time:

2019 — No pick
2018 — James Washington
2017 — JuJu Smith-Schuster
2016 — Sean Davis *
2015 — Senquez Golson *
2014 — Stephon Tuitt
2013 — Le’Veon Bell
2012 — Mike Adams *
2011 — Marcus Gilbert
2010 — Jason Worilds
2009 — No pick
2008 — Limas Sweed *
2007 — LaMarr Woodley

*Didn’t earn a second contract with the Steelers

When you have 11 players, and only 4 of those didn’t see a second contract with the organization, that tells you something. But even if you are looking at the picks, I doubt many would consider Sean Davis a “bust”, but merely found himself the odd man out in the deep secondary as he left via free agency.

Outside of longevity with the organization, just look at the playmakers who have been selected in the second round. Players who have been difference makers at their position and have helped the team win games.

Players like Le’Veon Bell, Stephon Tuitt, LaMarr Woodley and JuJu Smith-Schuster.

The Steelers, and Kevin Colbert, have been tremendous finding talent in the second round. Sure, there were picks like Limas Sweed, Senquez Golson and Mike Adams, but if you were to show me the list of General Managers and head coaches who have a flawless draft record the list would be blank. Everyone has swings and misses, even the Steelers.

What might be even more exciting about the upcoming draft is how the Steelers’ free agent moves of Stefen Wisniewski, Eric Ebron, Derek Watt and a trade for Chris Wormley have opened up the options for the draft. No longer does the team have to draft a guard in the second round after the retirement of Ramon Foster and the departure of B.J. Finney. Instead, if there is a play making running back on the board, they can take him. Same could be said about a linebacker or wide receiver.

The board is wide open for the Steelers, and their success in the second round should have fans anxiously awaiting the draft at the end of April.

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black-and-gold as they continue to prepare for the rest of the 2020 offseason.

Mock Draft Monday: The Steelers look to add a defensive tackle with their top pick

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 03/23/2020 - 9:33am
Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

In the latest mock draft, the Steelers add depth along the defensive line

The Pittsburgh Steelers are exactly one month away from the NFL draft! Although the NFL free agency period has moved past the initial flurry, there are still moves to be trickling in even though the Steelers have already signed three outside free agents as well as made a trade. With the lack of player pro days, it might be nice to have an idea as to some of the names associated with the Steelers in the second round. The Steelers’ first round pick has already been named an All-Pro player as Minkah Fitzpatrick can be thought of as the Steelers’ choice. So let’s look at prospects who may be available at the 49th selection and see what they could bring the the Steelers in 2020.

When talking about mock drafts or NFL free agency, you have to first identify the team’s main needs for the offseason. After various losses and gains in free agency, there are some who would like to see the Steelers go with either running back or wide receiver with their first pick. Personally, I feel edge rusher and inside linebacker could be on top of the list. After the Steelers have made multiple moves to start the league year, they are in a great shape to draft the best player available rather than target a specific position. When it comes to what position the team will select with their first pick, it is certainly up for debate.

In the latest two-round mock draft by draftwire.usatoday.com they have the Steelers addressing the defensive tackle position before anything else. With the loss of Javon Hargrave, the Steelers already added Chris Wormley in a trade with the Baltimore Ravens which reduces the draft need. Since the Steelers could go in any number of directions with their first selection, it is important to look at all the possibilities presented by various mock draft outlets.

Check out the second-round pick:

49. Pittsburgh Steelers | Rashard Lawrence| DT | LSU | SR |

Now that the NFL Scouting Combine has concluded, there may be some players most fans are not familiar with. If this is the case, here is a breakdown of Lawrence according to thedraftnetwork.com:

Hand Technique/Length - He’s got some strong hands, throws heavy blows that offset contact with easy and he’ll reset the LOS consistently. Will get outreached by more rangy blockers however and in those instances lack of flexibility and mobility will handcuff him, preventing him from stringing out blocks. Shed techniques are power oriented.

Competitive Toughness - He’s a tough dude. Not often found off the point of attack or bubbled by drive blocks. His motor meets required levels when scraping or pursuing the football laterally. That said, asking him to get range side to side will negatively impact his ability to hold ground due to hip tightness.

Two Gap Ability - Doesn’t have the prototypical length to be a stalwart here but he plays with inside hands, good leverage and a heavy punch — so he’ll be effective in the B-gap. Not a true nose but could feasibly play 1T as well and stack centers. Ability to hold in short spaces can make him a space eater but don’t expect stack and shed.

Gap Penetration Skills - Not super twitchy, nor does he get upfield with consistency. His disruption reps come from bubbling blockers back into the backfield and forcing the back to cut off their hip. Don’t expect a lot of disruption with bodies leaning on him, simply because he doesn’t own the length to extend and reroute.

Tackling - Tackle radius is only modest due to length, mobility and tilt — but if you test his gap and he’s uncovered you’re not getting off him. He’s got strong upper body and strong hands to wrap up and grab cloth before wrestling down the ball carrier in congested spaces.

Flexibility - Fairly linear. He’s got leverage automatically built into his frame and he does coil it well with good pad level at the point of attack. Does well to stay under bigger bodies at OTs when aligned in 4i or 5T. Doesn’t have the hinge to scrape and flow with pace on outside zone or sweeps, however.

Pass Rush Counters - Doesn’t bring a lot of variety or creativity here. Instead, he’s a power rusher who will look to collapse blockers and soften angles before proceeding into pursuit of the passer. Not going to bring a lot of kick here at the NFL level either and ideally gets rotated out on obvious passing downs.

First Step Quickness - He’s not quick twitch. There’s little threat of him shooting gaps and getting hip to hip with blockers at the snap. If you isolate him in space, his transitional quickness won’t afford him much reactive quickness or ability to flash and drive to contest blocks or mirror ball carriers.

Feet/COD - Not especially nimble. He does a solid job of staying controlled and not getting turned at the line of scrimmage but asking him to cross face or flash across blockers while he’s engaged with blockers isn’t going to serve fruitful. Struggles to gear down his momentum once he’s in pursuit, too.

Versatility - Should be considered a potential B-gap run defender. He’s not potent against the pass and that will hurt his draft value and impact to future NFL team. That said, he’s good at what he does — he’s a boxer in close quarters who wins real estate at the point of attack.

---

Best Trait - Competitive Toughness

Worst Trait - Length

Best Film - Alabama (2019)

Worst Film - Texas (2019)

Red Flags - None

Summary - Rashard Lawrence projects as a starting interior defensive lineman at the NFL level. Lawrence has likable anchor ability, some pleasant reps in 2-gap situations and a low center of gravity to hold the point of attack. He’s not overly dynamic as a pass rusher and struggles to gain ground with consistency into gaps, his lack of explosive speed will restrict him here to some degree. But as an early down run defender, Lawrence will bring stout play and should be considered an asset.

For all you who are preparing yourself for the draft, what do you think of the selection? Would you be on board with the Steelers taking Lawrence with their first pick, albeit in the second round? Or do you feel there is a better player at this position or a different one who may still be available? Personally, I believe the pick is a stretch as I would feel much better with the choice in the fourth round as cbssports.com has Lawrence ranked #134 overall. Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below, and remember these mock drafts are merely speculation and caused to create discussion among the fan base.

Steelers Report Card: Grading the acquisition of OG/C Stefen Wisniewski

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 03/23/2020 - 7:48am
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

BTSC breaks out the red pen and assigns grades to the Steelers after the signing of free agent Stefen Wisniewski.

Steelers brass felt Stefen Wisniewski was worth a free agent contract without asking you or any of us. That’s okay. The right people are paid to make those decisions, while we judge from afar.

For some reason, I’ve been given the responsibility to rate the performance of Kevin Colbert, Omar Khan and company on nothing but speculation. It’s not easy, but I’ll give it a whirl. Despite my less than prestigious BTSC teaching certificate, I have to issue the necessary disclaimer. You know the story; of course, I’m not a football coach, or a teacher, but I play one in blogs and podcasts. All offseason, I had certain expectations that the Steelers would be sitting at home on prom night and watching while the other kids with deep pockets grope the sophomore class. But then a group of Steelers banded together much like the Notre Dame players were fictitiously depicted as doing in Rudy and restructured their deals to free up cap space. So voila, we are back in business.

Assessing game day grades is an extremely difficult and somewhat thankless task. While the coaches’ grades, of course, are what counts the most, the media and fans can’t help but evaluate as well. All letter grades are simply based on the eye test of somebody watching at home. That’s me. Then the masses come in like a flock of seagulls and poop on the efforts of the author, only to fly away and hide behind their online moniker.

Grading personnel decisions is even tougher. We have to wait nearly six months to actually know if our grades our on the money. This time I decided to enlist my friends to help. Since I don’t have any...I recruited a few of my colleagues at BTSC. They resisted, but relented. But I now have to name my next five kids Jefferson, Lancelot, Dave, Tony and Cliff Harris is Still a Punk. Joke’s on them though. I think the vasectomy took.

With that being electronically said, let’s take a look at BTSC’s early perceptions:

OG/C Stefen Wisniewski - Kansas City Chiefs Overall Grade: A

Wisniewski is an NFL survivor. The last three seasons he started on the bench and ended as a starter performing at a high level. Two of the past three seasons, he started for the Super Bowl champions. Ranked just below David DeCastro in PFF’s position rankings at guard (16th), the Central Catholic and Penn State alum could get the chance to start for the retired Ramon Foster and the Seattle-bound Matt Feiler. His contract at $2.85 million for two years is an absolute bargain.

Tony Defeo: C+

Great depth guy. He can play both guard and center.

Jeff Hartman: A

A solid, veteran lineman on the cheap. His experience and versatility make this a great move.

Lance Williams: B

For the price, Wiz will be the steal of the FA class because he’s a vet who’s outstanding in pass pro and provides great positional flexibility.

Dave Schofield: A

Steelers get what I feel is an upgrade over B.J. Finney at a bottom-dollar price. His salary is for less than what they paid Finney last year.

K.T. Smith (CHISAP): A

A starting OL from the Super Bowl champs with position versatility on a cheap contract? Score!

Bryan Anthony Davis: A+

This was the move I was asking for a month ago. He’s a Super Bowl mercenary coming back home. He grades out well with PFF and he’s very economical. Perfect move for a team with cap issues and a window.

Now it is your turn to play teacher. Use the polls and the comments section below. We can compare notes in the teachers lounge.

The Steelers signing of Eric Ebron is a game-changer for the tight end position

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 03/23/2020 - 6:36am
Photo by Rob Leiter/Getty Images

Just like that, the Steelers situation at tight end went from a concern to a strength with the free agent signing of Eric Ebron.

We’re from the town with the football team with the great tight end situation, we cheer the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Just when you thought the Steelers were going to leave you wondering how they could go an entire free agency period without making a major move, they go out and sign tight end Eric Ebron to a two-year deal.

That deal was announced on Friday, just one day after it seemed like the signing of veteran guard Stefen Wisniewski was going to be Pittsburgh’s big transaction in free agency.

What does this all mean? It means the Steelers just added a Pro Bowl weapon to their offense. It means Ben Roethlisberger will have one more toy to play with in 2020. It means the tight end position, provided Vance McDonald doesn’t get cut, will now be a major strength. It means the Steelers can run a lot of two-tight end sets next season, and they may not include many with Zach Banner reporting as an eligible receiver.

It means the Steelers can spend that second-round draft pick on another position.

But, most importantly, it means the Steelers are serious about contending next year, and they’re willing to continue to kick the can down the road with restructurings and things of that nature in order to make it happen.

Things don’t look so bad now for an offense that was in serious need of weapons a year ago. Yes, that perception was certainly heightened due to the lack of a Roethlisberger and the inclusion of two very inexperienced and mostly ineffective quarterbacks. But there’s no question something else was missing from the offense in 2019.

Now, if all goes to plan in 2020, starting with a healthy Roethlisberger, the Steelers offense could rebound in a big way. If JuJu Smith-Schuster has a resurgence after an undoubtedly poor 2019, the receiving corps suddenly becomes a strength. If James Conner can stay healthy, there’s no question he has the ability to be a productive running back. And if both McDonald and Ebron were just suffering from a lack of franchise quarterback last year (Ebron recorded only 31 receptions last season for the post-Andrew Luck Colts), you know what that will mean for the tight end position.

Those are a lot of ifs, no doubt. However, on paper, the Steelers offense looks much better than it did at the end of last season. And if it really is much better, it’s hard to picture the Steelers as anything but contenders in 2020.

Either way, the Steelers had a need at the tight end position, and they went out and did something about it.

You have to respect that.

Podcast: The CBA is signed, and it is time for the Steelers to get to work

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 03/23/2020 - 5:30am

In the latest episode of “Home and Hater” show, we break down all the news you need to know surrounding the Black-and-Gold.

The Pittsburgh Steelers 2019 season is officially over, and the Steelers lost their final game by losing to the Baltimore Ravens in Week 17, ending their record at 8-8.

Take a look at the rundown for the latest episode of the BTSC podcast The Home and Hater Show. On this show Jeff Hartman and Lance Williams break down all things Steelers!

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Notes
  • The Steelers made some key moves last week, and how this impacted the approach to teh 2020 NFL Draft.
  • Week in Review
  • Steelers Q&A
  • and MUCH MORE!

Jeff Hartman, editor of BTSC, and Lance Williams walk you through everything you need to know regarding the Black-and-gold.

If you haven’t heard, we have a YouTube channel, and the main reason for this is to increase the sound quality on our shows. But if you’re a visual learner you can watch the show below. Be sure to subscribe to our channel!

If you missed the live show, be sure to check out all episodes on the following platforms:

Apple Users: CLICK HERE
Spotify: CLICK HERE
Google Play: CLICK HERE

If you’re old-school and just want the audio, you can listen to it in the player below.

Black and Gold Links: Going around the AFC North after the first wave of Free Agency

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 03/23/2020 - 4:30am
Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Time to check on the latest news surrounding the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Pittsburgh Steelers 2019 season is officially over. After finishing the year 8-8, the Steelers, and their vast fan base, has another long offseason awaiting them. Just because the games are done doesn’t mean we stop providing you with features, commentary and opinions to tide you over throughout the offseason!

Today in the black-and-gold links article we take a look at the rest of the AFC North to see how they all did in the first wave of NFL Free Agency.

Let’s get to the news:

  • The Ravens, Bengals and Browns all had interesting first weeks in free agency, we take a look at what everyone did last week.

NFL Division-by-Division Rankings After First Week of 2020 Free Agency

By: Alex Ballnetine, Bleacher Report

2019 Standings

Ravens 14-2

Steelers 8-8

Browns 6-10

Bengals 2-14

There’s a reason to be optimistic about all four teams in the AFC North.

The Baltimore Ravens disappointed in the playoffs, but no one was better in the regular season. Teams have a full season’s worth of film to break down on Lamar Jackson and devise schemes to slow him down. They won’t be able to fully stop him, but it will be difficult for Baltimore to go 14-2 again. Still, it will be a Super Bowl contender.

Pittsburgh remained relevant despite subpar quarterback play from Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges. It retained Bud Dupree and one of the better one-two pass-rushing combos in the league with him and T.J. Watt. That doesn’t seem like much, but the Steelers are rarely bad. They haven’t had a losing season since 2003, and the return of Ben Roethlisberger will give them a chance to keep that streak going.

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • The 10 greatest players in Steelers history, according to a CBS sports writer.

The 10 greatest players in Steelers history: From Joe Greene to Troy Polamalu and more of Pittsburgh’s best

By: Bryan DeArdo, CBSPorts

Since 1972, no NFL team has been as consistently good as the Pittsburgh Steelers. In the 1970s, the Steelers were so dominant that NFL Films narrator John Facenda once said, “There are 27 teams in the National Football League, and then, there are the Pittsburgh Steelers.”

Since ‘72, the year Franco Harris’ Immaculate Reception gave the franchise its first playoff victory, the Steelers have enjoyed riches few other NFL franchises have ever reached. From 1974-79, the Steelers won four Super Bowls in a six-year span, a feat that has yet to be matched. Two decades later, the Blizburgh Steelers won five straight division titles while appearing on three AFC title games as well as the franchise’s fifth Super Bowl.

In the 2000s, the Steelers added to their collection of Vince Lombardi Trophies, winning Super Bowls XL and XLIII behind a young quarterback, two passionate coaches and a dominant defense. Pittsburgh advanced to its ninth Super Bowl as the start of this decade, and they will leave the decade with at least three more division titles and a 16th AFC championship game appearance.

While Art and Dan Rooney, draft specialists Art Rooney Jr. and Bill Nunn, and head coaches Bill Cowher and Mike Tomlin (among others) were key contributors to Pittsburgh’s success over the past 47 years, the men who made up those Steelers teams are who we are choosing to recognize while selecting the 10 greatest players in the franchise’s last half century.

With the help of Coach Cowher, former Steelers Super Bowl winning cornerback and current CBS NFL analyst Bryant McFadden and CBS writer Ryan Wilson, here is my list of the 10 greatest Steelers since 1972.

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • A look back at the 2008 AFC Championship game...this never gets old.

Sunday Rewind: 2008 AFC Championship Game

By: Steelers.com

It is a game that Steelers fans will never forget.

The Steelers defeated the Ravens, 23–14, in a hard-fought AFC Championship game at Heinz Field on Jan. 18, 2009.

Pittsburgh, who finished the regular season with a 12-4 record and entered the playoffs as the second seed, opened the fourth quarter with a 16-7 lead. Baltimore scored a touchdown with 9:32 left, pulling the Ravens to within two, 16-14. But Troy Polamalu intercepted a Joe Flacco pass and returned it 40 yards for a touchdown with 4:39 remaining, sealing the victory.

Jim Nantz, Phil Simms and Steve Tasker were on the call for CBS.

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • BTSC articles you may have missed...

Updating the Steelers Free Agent Tracker

An updated look at the Steelers compensatory formula

Should fans be worried about Diontae Johnson working out with Antonio Brown?

  • Social Media Madness

No chance at catching @3williethadude9‼️ #SBXL | #SteelersJukeBox https://t.co/jIc3lvSkmT pic.twitter.com/37K9rbsy2G

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) March 22, 2020

Get those out! Time to spot the difference. Can you find all 5️⃣? pic.twitter.com/D6Vd52wbzo

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) March 22, 2020

Time at home @joehaden23 | @JamesConner_ | @DOCnation_7 | @CamHeyward | @TeamJuJu | @Nelson_Island pic.twitter.com/hRKBq9NVsT

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) March 21, 2020

Where the Steelers stand in the compensatory formula after losing more free agents

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 03/22/2020 - 11:47am
Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images

With Artie burns and Nick Vanette agreeing to deals elsewhere, the Steelers are in line for multiple comp picks

Going into the 2020 NFL free agent period, Steelers’ fans were well aware there were going to be some tough losses. If players were going to move on to another team, the best thing for the Steelers would be for those players to sign huge contracts in order to help the Steelers out in the NFL’s compensatory formula.

As it stands right now, the Steelers would be eligible for multiple draft picks in 2021. Of course, the Steelers could still sign another free agent. Before diving into where the Steelers stand and what would need to happen in order to keep any compensatory draft picks, click HERE for a previous article which listed several misconceptions about the NFL’s compensatory formula.

After diving in to do more research with the updates to the compensatory formula in the new CBA, and with the assistance of Steel City Insider’s Ian Whetstone, I’ve compiled a couple things which will change in the compensatory process which could affect the Steelers this season:

Qualifying Contracts

The first item is the percentage of free agent contracts which determine if a player is a qualifying compensatory free agent. Previously set at 50%, the new CBA has only the top 35% of free agents qualifying for the compensatory process. What this means is a player would have to sign a contract for at least $2.5 million per season in order to qualify as a compensatory free agent according to the estimates at overthecap.com. This number will be important to remember going forward.

Signing Deadline

Another change with the new CBA is the time period for which signing free agents allows them to qualify as a compensatory free agent. Previously the second Tuesday after the NFL draft, the new date has been moved forward to the Monday immediately following the draft. For 2020, this date looks to be April 27.

Now let’s see where the Steelers stand. Currently, the Steelers have a loss of six players and a gain three, with only two having enough of a salary to qualify. The Steelers’ losses are:

Javon Hargrave ($13 M per year, 4th round)
Sean Davis ($5 M per year, 6th round)
Tyler Matakevich ($4.5 M per year, 6th round)
B.J. Finney ($4 M per year, 6th round)
Nick Vannett ($2.85 M per year, 7th round)
Artie Burns (Salary unknown)

The Steelers net gains are:

Eric Ebron ($6 M per year, 6th round)
Derek Watt ($3.25 M per year, 7th round)
Stefen Wisniewski ($1.425 M per year, non-qualifying)

The rounds associated with each player is simply an estimation at this time. In Hargrave’s case, he is right on the cusp between a third-round or fourth-round selection. The experts at overthecap.com (OTC) have Hargrave with a fourth-round designation so this is where we will go. Hargrave’s valu will ultimately depend if his salary falls in the top 5% of all free agents which would place him in the third round. Another way which would help is his total number of snaps played in 2020 and any awards such as All-Pro or All-Conference.

Similarly, OTC has Watt at a seventh-round designation but he’s now far from being a sixth. Much like Javon Hargrave, playing a large number of snaps or earning any awards could move him into the sixth round.

One nice factor for the Steelers when it comes to canceling players is the contract of Stefen Wisniewski. Being $1 million under the projected cut off to qualify for a seventh-round designation, Wisniewski joins the Steelers for no compensatory penalty.

A player which could change the cancellation process in a negative way for the Steelers is Sean Davis. Signing a one-year deal in Washington, Davis’ contract reportedly has several performance bonuses which could make it possible he would not earn the full $5 million. Obviously, a lower salary would cause his round designation to drop. Also, having bonuses of this nature does not guarantee the Redskins will keep Davis the entire season.

One unknown which remains in this process is the value of the one-year salary of cornerback Artie Burns. In order to qualify, Burns would have to have a salary over $2.5 million for 2020. For now, we’ll assume Burns’ salary does not qualify until the financials are released which would indicate otherwise.

Going by the numbers as they currently stand, the Steelers have a net loss of three players and would be in line for three compensatory draft picks. The round every player gained is designated will cancel another player from the same round. If there is no player in that round, they cancel a player from the next lowest round until a player is canceled. If there are no players at an equal or lesser round of the player gained, then the bottom player on the list is canceled.

Starting at the top, Eric Ebron would cancel Sean Davis and Derek Watt would cancel the seventh-round designation of Nick Vannett. Looking at what is remaining, the Steelers are currently in line for a fourth-round pick and TWO sixth-round picks.

Having a net loss of three players, the Steelers can sign two more qualifying free agents and still be eligible for a selection in 2021. As for any more potential free-agent losses, the only player available from the Steelers would be L.T. Walton who would not be likely to earn the $2.5 million salary per season to qualify. Additionally, if Artie Burns’ salary is more than 2.5 million, he would possibly give the Steelers yet another compensatory draft pick. But remember, only 32 compensatory draft picks are awarded every year, and teams are eligible for no more than four compensatory selections each season.

This is only the beginning when it comes to the compensatory process. Remember, other factors throughout the 2020 season, such as playing time or postseason awards, will enter into the formula as well. But it is fun to see where the Steelers are for the time being.

Steelers Burning Questions: Is Diontae Johnson working out with Antonio Brown a red flag?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 03/22/2020 - 8:20am
Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The talented young wide receiver was working out with the former Steeler All-Pro. Should fans be concerned?

As I mentioned before, on my commute to work I generally have something Steelers related playing on the radio through Bluetooth. This morning I was listening to 93.7 The Fan, and one segment mentioned how Diontae Johnson was working on perfecting his craft.

Doesn’t sound to alarming. Right?

I mean, Steelers fans want our guys putting in the work to maximize their talents. Then the bombshell was dropped how he was working out with the disgruntled former Steeler known as Antonio Brown.

I caught some of the details which said it was a camp of sorts run by the former All Pro. In all honesty, I missed the discussion and just about everything after that because my thoughts went immediately towards, “AB better not mess with this kids head”. Then my next thought was, “If you’re going to learn from someone, why not one of the best?”

So I leave you with these questions to answer for yourself in the comment section below:

  • All things considered, should the Steelers be concerned with Johnson’s decision to work out with Antonio Brown?
  • As a fan, do you feel this is a sound decision on Johnson’s part?
  • Is there the possibility of an ulterior motive on Brown’s part, possibly poking back at JuJu Smith-Schuster. “Hey look, I’m working out with your teammate” type of thing?

As always, let us know your thoughts in the comments below, and GO STEELERS!!

Stay well everyone!

Get your Steelers fix with Free NFL Game Pass

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 03/22/2020 - 7:00am
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

The NFL is offering free subscriptions through the end of May

It is a very trying time in our society. While many people are trying to keep as much of a sense of normalcy in their lives, there’s too much which reminds us of our current situation due to the coronavirus pandemic. With all sports currently suspended, the NFL is doing their part to help sports fans get through the situation. While many people are accustomed to watching some sort of sporting event on a Sunday afternoon, they can now watch their favorite NFL games all day. Through the end of May, the NFL is offering complementary access to NFL Game Pass.

For those not familiar with what there is to offer from NFL Game Pass, the most obvious item is replays of every NFL game from this past season. In fact, it is not just 2019 as the access allows you to watch games all the way back through 2009. But it is not just game replays which are available. Subscribers can also view a condensed version of the game which runs about 45 minutes as well as the “All -22” angle which is used by coaches to break down film. And, in my best infomercial voice: But wait... there’s more! There is also access to the NFL film archive which has shows such as Hard Knocks and A Football Life as well as the NFL’s The Top 100.

If you are unsure if you were able to view NFL Game Pass, it is available through Google Play, the Apple App Store, and Microsoft. It is also accessable through streaming platforms such as Apple TV, Xbox One, PS4, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, as well as Google Chromecast. As you can see, almost any way a person gains access to the Internet can give them the capability to stream NFL Game Pass.

If you have not already activated your complementary access to NFL Game Pass, you can do so simply by clicking HERE.

Hopefully some great Steelers’ replays can get you through the coming weeks. If you need any suggestion of where to get started, one of my personal favorites is always Week 16 of 2016 when the Steelers hosted the Baltimore Ravens on Christmas Day. If you have any other suggestions for games people should watch, please leave them in the comments below to help all of BTSC build their watch list.

Podcast: After the moves made, are the Steelers considered legitimate contenders?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 03/22/2020 - 6:04am

The Steelers 2020 season is being shaped now, so we ask a really interesting question — After the moves made, are the Steelers considered legitimate contenders?

With a flurry of moves not originally expected from the “cap-strapped” Pittsburgh Steelers, Kevin Colbert has, by action, declared the Steelers “all in” as contenders to lift the Lombardi. Do you feel the moves make them legitimate threats to win the AFC? Join BTSC’s Bryan Anthony Davis in pondering this question and more.

This is a tough question, and one where they can be multiple responses/answers to. This is going to be the talking point in the latest podcast.

Plenty has to be deciphered here, and BAD puts it all out there for the listeners in the latest show...

Check out the show below, and be sure to comment what you think in the comment section below!

If you missed the live show, be sure to check out the YouTube clip here, and be sure to subscribe to our channel by clicking HERE:

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If you’re old-school and just want the audio, you can listen to it in the player below.

Black and Gold Links: Ben Roethlisberger does his part to make fans aware of the COVID-19 crisis

Behind the Steel Curtain - Sun, 03/22/2020 - 5:04am
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Time to check on the latest news surrounding the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Pittsburgh Steelers 2019 season is officially over. After finishing the year 8-8, the Steelers, and their vast fan base, has another long offseason awaiting them. Just because the games are done doesn’t mean we stop providing you with features, commentary and opinions to tide you over throughout the offseason!

Today in the black-and-gold links article we take a look at how Ben Roethlisberger is doing his part as it pertains to the coronavirus.

Let’s get to the news:

  • Ben Roethlisberger has been in the news lately, and most recently for a message to Steelers fans everywhere.

Ben Roethlisberger on ‘lockdown,’ urges others to stay home

By: Samson X. Horne, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Ben Roethlisberger gave the world a glimpse of what his life has been like the past week while he and his family are voluntarily quarantined during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback was seen in a tweet shared Friday afternoon by the official team account that showed an intimate scene with his family sitting around a dining room table while describing what they’ve been up to the last few days.

Still rocking the burly beard, Roethlisberger, who lives near Sewickley, declared: “We’re doing well here, locked down in the house.”

Big Ben said his family was “praying for everyone.”

“If you have to (leave home), I hope that everyone practices good social distancing. … If you’re locked down in your house like we are, there are a lot of fun things that you can do.”

Roethlisberger said one of the things he and wife, Ashley, are doing is figuring out curriculum for the children while they are absent from school.

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • Ben Roethlisberger doesn’t just have the ability to throw without pain, but he also feels younger than he has in a long time.

Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger says he’s throwing without pain for first time in years

By: Brooke Pryor, ESPN

Six months removed from elbow surgery on his throwing arm, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said he has no doubts that he’ll be able to come back and play well this season.

In an interview with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Roethlisberger expressed confidence in his ability to return from the elbow injury that ended his 2019 season in Week 2.

”I’m throwing without pain for the first time in years,” Roethlisberger told the Post-Gazette. “Some games, I would have a little pain. Some games, I would have a lot of pain. But in the New England game and the Seattle game [last season], it got to be too much. To be able to throw without pain now? That feels nice. That’s a nice feeling. I know I’m not getting any younger, but I feel younger because I don’t have any pain.”

His personal assessment backs up the confidence general manager Kevin Colbert expressed at the NFL scouting combine last month.

”The thing that’s exciting about it is we might have a better Ben Roethlisberger coming out of this surgery,” Colbert said in Indianapolis. “He sat for a year. Didn’t have wear and tear on his body for a year. Sure, he had a significant surgery, but we’re optimistic he might be better.”

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

Antonio Brown looking for any opportunity but “preferably with Tom” Brady

By: Charean Williams, ProFootballTalk

Free agent receiver Antonio Brown expects to be “back shortly.”

“Yeah, man, I’m ready to get out there and show people what I can do,” Brown told Mike Calta on 102.5 The Bone on Friday. “I’ve been missing for a couple months, so I’m excited, man, to get back, to get back to what I love and get back to doing what I like to do.”

Brown, 31, has been traded once and cut twice in the past year. He has played one game.

His only regular-season action over the past 15 months came with Tom Brady in New England. Brady, who befriended Brown during Brown’s brief time with the Patriots, signed with the Buccaneers on Friday.

Brown said he has texted with Brady.

To read the full article, click HERE (Free)

  • BTSC articles you may have missed...

The best of what’s left in NFL Free Agency

The Steelers lose two more free agents from 2019

Grading the Steelers acquisition of Derek Watt

An updated look at the Steelers’ compensatory formula in 2021

  • Social Media Madness

In three seasons, @Chris_Wormley43 has played in 39 games with 15 starts, including playing in all 16 games in 2019 with seven starts. pic.twitter.com/CR0JKLAXjw

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) March 20, 2020

Time at home @joehaden23 | @JamesConner_ | @DOCnation_7 | @CamHeyward | @TeamJuJu | @Nelson_Island pic.twitter.com/hRKBq9NVsT

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) March 21, 2020

December 16, 2000
Final game at Three Rivers Stadium
Steelers 24, Redskins 3

More : https://t.co/WzO6M6PbBm#SteelersJukeBox https://t.co/E81zG7O6om pic.twitter.com/EVEXHQPvUZ

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) March 21, 2020

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