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"There's no question salary cap's an issue," Rooney told the Tribune Review.
"It's probably as big an issue as we've had to face."
According to Ed Bouchette, the Steelers are approximately $25 million over an estimated $124 million salary cap and must be under the cap by March 13.
This could mean that long-time veterans could no longer be in the black and gold this fall.
Potential losses include: Aaron Smith, James Farrior, Hines Ward, Casey Hampton, Chris Kemoeatu and others.
Smith and Farrior are at the point where they are no longer effective starters and retirement may be an option. Hampton has a huge cap hit ($8 million) and cannot be brought back at that price.
Ward is an interesting case because he still wants to play and has said he is willing to take a pay cut.
"I'd probably have to restructure my contract," Ward told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
"That's fine with me. I recognize that. I'm telling you I want to be here, I'm telling you I'm willing to do that. And I understand the ramifications -- we have the cap number and stuff, but I want to be here."
Rooney did not say one way or another what the team will do with the team's all-time receiver.
"He's one of the all-time Steelers," Rooney said.
"Hopefully he'll be a Hall of Famer. You want it end the right way when it ends."
It is hard to argue against the Steelers releasing or not re-signing many of the previously mentioned players. However, Ward is another story. He was the face of the Steelers franchise for a decade and deserves to retire in Pittsburgh.
There is no doubt this will be one of the hardest, if not the hardest decision the team will make this offseason.