It should be no surprise to anyone in Steeler Nation that there is relatively no news coming out of Pittsburgh since the start of free agency. The Steelers aren’t exactly in the market for any free agents anyway. Their focus remains on resigning their own players. Most notably, RFA Mike Wallace, who still hasn’t gotten any offers yet after the Steelers tendered him to the 1 year deal worth about $2 million. The Steelers had very little of the $10.5 million cap space remaining after they put out all of their tenders to their RFA’s but they just got a little more room under that cap thanks to the restructuring of the Big Snack. Casey Hampton, coming off of another ACL surgery was to count a little over $8 million towards the cap has now cut off about $3 million thanks to his restructure. My theory is that Hampton’s restructure is part of the bigger plan to get Wallace signed to a long term deal.
The tender for Wallace means that either the Steelers pay him the $2 million for a one year deal and he becomes an unrestricted free agent next year, or another team makes an offer the Steelers can’t match and the Steelers will receive a 1st round draft pick from that team as compensation. With wide receivers going in free agency like hotcakes, it’s notable that Wallace hasn’t been signed yet. I think it’s due to his RFA status, as opposed to the unrestricted FA’s that are being signed to all these monster deals across the league these past few days. It makes sense that other teams just aren’t willing to sign Wallace to a Megatron-sized contract as well as give up a first round draft pick and are waiting to see if he just does the 1 year deal with the Steelers and they can grab him as an unrestricted FA next season. It also makes sense to me that the Steelers would like to prevent that from happening all together and are still focused on “trimming the fat” of the salary cap so there is enough room to resign everyone they need to sign as well as lock down Wallace with a long term deal. Next season Antonio Brown will be a RFA, but there will be a much bigger cap to work with.
Speaking of “trimming the fat”, Hampton did the team a solid by cutting down his Hampton-sized cap hit and restructuring. Although Colbert has said several times that Hampton was indeed coming back for the 2012 season, most of Steeler Nation thought that was questionable due to his age, his injuries, and the fact that I think he’s already on the PUP list for training camp for a hammy. Now there is no doubt at all that Hampton will be a Steeler in 2012 with this restructure. It’s a little odd to me that you let veterans like James Farrior and Hines Ward go while they’re still wanting to play and haven’t had the health issues that Hampton has had and keep Hampton with his age and health issues. Also you have Ziggy Hood and Cam Heyward who are young and ready to take over the D-line. The only thing that I can think of is the Steelers don’t believe that they have the next great nose tackle to take Hampton’s spot, which is a very important part of the 3-4 defense.
I do love me some Hampton, though. I love his size, his strength, and the fact that his helmet looks like 2 sizes too small when its on his head. In his prime, Hampton could plow through any offensive line like there was an all-you-can-eat buffet on the other side. I love hearing stories about his late-nite excursions to the Latrobe Wendy’s during training camp as well. When the Steelers defense is spoken of on how they strike fear in the hearts of quarterbacks across the league, they are mostly speaking of the linebackers like Harrison and Woodley. But I’m sure many a quarterback has shaken in his pants at the sight of the Big Snack running right at him as if he was the Baconator. If Tomlin, LeBeau and the front office still have faith in Hampton’s abilities than I guess so do I. I’m glad he’s restructured and has hopefully given the Steelers a little more room to work with so Khan can work his contract magic on a long term deal for Wallace. I can’t see Colbert and Rooney stating as many times as they have that their top priority this offseason is to resign Wallace only to sign him to the 1 year tender and risk really losing him in free agency next season. After Hampton, I’m not sure who is left that can be restructured in order to give more room to the cap but if there is, Omar Khan will get it done.
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