Finally it has happened! For the first time this offseason, members of the Pittsburgh Steelers have actually impressed me with their moral conduct. Actually, scratch the impress me part, some players have downright made me proud they wear the black and gold.
It was no surprise the Steelers would have some serious spring-cleaning to do within a roster that was $10 million over the salary cap. With so many deals still needing to get finalized, I could picture Kevin Colbert toiling in his bed at night trying to figure out how to get all of the impending contracts worked out for the Steelers.
Well, just as leaders are supposed to do, many of the black and gold have elected to help the team by restructuring their contracts to get the Steelers under the cap for this coming season. We are not talking about some of the no-name players on the team reworking their deals; I’m talking about players such as Ben Roethlisberger, James Harrison, and Brett Kiesel who have all offered to restructure their contracts. These are players who have earned the right to make the money they do, and yet as we get ready to start the 2011 season, selflessness seems to be the overall theme within the team.
These restructured contracts will not be made official until they have been submitted to the NFL office for approval, but it appears there should be no problem getting these deals done as the Steelers continue to resign many of the key players who helped the black and gold get to the Super Bowl last season.
After Harrison so infamously ripped many of his teammates and the league commissioner in a recent Men’s Journal article, it is nice to see a sense of fellowship within the team so early in training camp. At yesterdays practice at Saint Vincent College, Ben Roethlisberger dawned a 78 jersey as the team took the field. Roethlisberger said he wore the jersey to honor his friend and former teammate Max Starks, who was cut from the roster late last week. Roethlisberger and Starks were both part of the ’04 draft class, and seemed to share a sincere friendship. I don’t believe Roethlisberger was making any silent protest over the dismissal of Starks, yet big Ben was showing how many of the players on the team have bonded over the last 8-years.
One reason these restructured contracts will have so much meaning, is the Steelers may not need to cut any more players for financial issues. While Colbert and the other executives seem to have the cap under control, the Steelers took the liberty to sign a few more free agents back into the mix. Back-up quarterback Dennis Dixon has resigned a one-year contract, as well as running back Mewelde Moore, and nose tackle Chris Hoke.
Up next for the Steelers…..getting a long term deal done with star linebacker Lamarr Woodley. The Steelers would also be able to create more cap room if they signed Woodley to a long-term contract and removed his franchise tag. The Steelers certainly plan to give Woodley the contract he deserves after dealing with the final few veteran contracts, which still need to be worked out in the coming weeks.