9 Most Overpaid and Underpaid Pittsburgh Steelers Currently on the Roster
Some Pittsburgh Steelers players make millions to do almost nothing, while others who are key to the team's success toil for mere six-figure salaries.
Like every NFL team, the Steelers can spend no more than $120.6 million under the 2012 salary cap. In some cases, they're getting plenty of bang for their buck. In other cases, they'd be better off shredding the greenbacks and using it for the annual re-sodding of Heinz Field.
If the Steelers want to get back to the Super Bowl, they better hope the hunger of their underpaid players makes up for the uselessness of their overpaid players.
Unless otherwise noted, 2012 salary figures are from Rotoworld.
Underpaid: Mike Adams, OT or Marcus Gilbert, OT
2012 Salary (Mike Adams): Four-year, $3.54 million contract with $1 million signing bonus
2012 Salary (Marcus Gilbert): $465,000
Don't the Steelers listen to Sandra Bullock?
Blind Side taught those who didn't already know that the quarterback is usually the highest-paid player on an NFL team and in many cases the left tackle is second.
In all likelihood, either Mike Adams or Marcus Gilbert will be responsible for protecting Ben Roethlisberger's blind side in 2012. Whoever wins the job will be underpaid, because neither is even close to being the second-highest-paid player on the team.
Gilbert was the Steelers' second-round draft pick in 2011, and Adams was their second-round pick this year. That, as well as the rookie wage scale, limits their earning power.
The rookie wage scale is a good thing. It prevents players from getting a check for the gross domestic product of Tonga before even stepping on an NFL field.
In this case, however, it allows the Steelers to underpay for the guy who has Roethlisberger's back.
The Steelers don't have to elevate their left tackle, whether it's Adams or Gilbert, to No. 2 on the payroll. Neither player should make more than guys like Troy Polamalu, LaMarr Woodley or Ike Taylor, especially since they're unproven at the position.
What Leigh Anne Tuohy didn't say is that allowing the left tackle to take up a huge chunk of the salary cap and going bargain basement on other positions isn't necessarily a formula for long-term success.
Look at the Browns.
But if there's any team that should place a little more value on protecting the quarterback, it's the Steelers.
Overpaid: Will Allen, S
2012 Salary: $1.28 million
Will Allen appeared in all 16 games, and the playoff game, for the Steelers last season. However, he had just nine tackles, all on special teams.
Not that special teams isn't important. Just ask the 2001 Steelers. But Allen's modest contribution covering punts and kicks doesn't make him worth more than fellow safety Ryan Mundy, who will earn $1.26 million next season.
Mundy has filled in admirably as a starter for both Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark. He had a key interception in the Steelers' win at Kansas City last season.
Allen has four career interceptions, none since 2005.
Allen also will make more than all three cornerbacks battling to start opposite Ike Taylor in 2012. Keenan Lewis will earn $1.26 million in 2012. Cortez Allen and Curtis Brown both are scheduled to make $465,000.
Nice work if you can get it, Will.
Underpaid: Antonio Brown, WR
2012 Salary: $540,000
The team MVP is working really cheap.
Antonio Brown was second only to Mike Wallace on the team with 69 catches in 2011. He was third in the NFL with 28 third-down catches, according to ESPN.com, and averaged 15.6 yards per third-down reception.
Brown did more than just offense for the Steelers. His work on special teams allowed them to stretch their dollar even further.
In 2011, Brown became the first player in NFL history with 1,000 receiving yards and 1,000 return yards in the same season, and his jersey is on display at the Pro Football Hall of Fame because of it, according to MLive.
Brown caught two touchdown passes in 2011. One was a game-clinching 79-yarder against the Browns and the other came against the Patriots, when he caught a season-high nine passes to help the Steelers conquer Tom Brady for the first time since he was with Bridget Moynahan.
Brown might be a bargain now, but that could change next season when he becomes a restricted free agent.
Overpaid: Willie Colon, OG
2012 Salary: $700,000, plus a $3.8 million signing bonus
There was a time when Willie Colon was regarded as the Steelers' best offensive lineman.
Colon has played just one game in the last two seasons because of injuries.
If he can stay healthy this season, Colon will move from tackle to guard, a position he's never played, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
That's a lot of money to pay a guy who's mostly been in street clothes since the beginning of 2010 and is inexperienced at the job he's been assigned in 2012.
Underpaid: Maurkice Pouncey, C
2012 Salary: $666,125
Maurkice Pouncey has given the Steelers two Pro Bowl seasons since he was taken with the 18th pick in the 2010 NFL draft, yet his backup is making about twice what he's making.
Doug Legursky, who really couldn't fill Pouncey's shoes in Super Bowl XLV or the 2011 playoff loss to the Broncos, is set to make $1.26 million in 2012.
Trai Essex will also out-earn Pouncey, making $825,000.
Legursky and Essex both have been valuable because of their versatility, but neither can match Pouncey as an offensive lineman.
Pouncey was a starter as a rookie and sent veteran center Justin Hartwig packing.
Sure, it would be nice if Pouncey was healthy for a playoff game, but his absence in Dallas and Denver has proven his value
Overpaid: Jonathan Scott, OT
2012 Salary: 2.2 million
If Jonathan Scott goes to Denver with the Steelers on Sept. 9, it likely will be because he barely made the team.
He's getting paid too much for a guy on the roster bubble.
Scott started five games last season. In four of those starts, Ben Roethlisberger was sacked a total of 12 times. Scott was responsible for four of those sacks, according to Football Outsiders.
Marcus Gilbert and Mike Adams will probably be the Steelers' starting tackles in 2012. It's just not clear yet who will be on the right and who will be on the left.
That will make Scott, at best, a very expensive backup.
Underpaid: Isaac Redman, RB
2012 Salary: $540,000
Most players at Division II Bowie State can only dream of making this much money.
For a starting NFL running back, however, it's peanuts.
Isaac Redman, an undrafted free agent from Bowie State in 2009, might not have the pedigree of Rashard Mendenhall, who was chosen out of Illinois in the first round of the 2008 draft.
However, he follows the tradition of North-South, bruising Steelers running backs better than Mendenhall, who does more tap dancing than a lawyer for BP.
That's why Redman isn't just keeping the seat warm until Mendenhall recovers from ACL surgery. He has a chance to win the starting running back job permanently.
If he does, the Steelers are getting a bargain.
Overpaid: Shaun Suisham, K
2012 Salary: $1.7 million against the salary cap (according to the Altoona (Pa.) Mirror)
Shaun Suisham might make Steelers fans wonder if smashing a paper towel dispenser is all that bad.
Suisham made 23-of-31 field-goal attempts in 2011, a shaky 74.2 percent. That's the lowest percentage of any NFL kicker with at least 20 field-goal attempts, according to NFL.com.
The 30-year-old journeyman made just 13-of-21 field-goal attempts from 30 yards or longer and 7-of-13 from 40 or longer.
Suisham has won a couple of games for the Steelers since he was signed to replace disgraced Jeff Reed in 2010.
He kicked the game-winning field goal in overtime at Buffalo in his second game with the team. Last season, he kicked a 38-yarder with four seconds left for the deciding points in the Steelers' win at Indianapolis.
Still, Suisham trotting onto the field isn't the most assuring sight for Steelers fans.
Underpaid: Mike Wallace, WR
2012 Salary: $2.7 million restricted free agent tender (unsigned)
You can't talk money in a Steelers article these days without talking about Mike Wallace.
Not going to happen.
Wallace is worth more, though, than the $2.7 million that's on the table for 2012.
He's averaged 18.7 yards per reception in his first three years in the NFL. That's the most among active receivers and more than Randy Moss and Jerry Rice at that point in their careers, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
Wallace led the Steelers with 72 catches for 1,193 yards last season. He had just 393 of those yards, and two of his eight touchdowns, in the second half of the season.
That doesn't mean Wallace was any less valuable. His numbers declined because he drew double-teams, and that allowed Antonio Brown to emerge.
So Wallace helps the Steelers just by being on the field, yet he makes less than Willie Colon, who's almost never been on the field for the past two years.
If the Steelers pay Wallace $7 million a year, he'd be the team's second-highest-paid offensive player next to Ben Roethlisberger and he'd be in the neighborhood of defensive studs like Lawrence Timmons and Ike Taylor.
That seems fair.
The Steelers have $3.7 million in available salary-cap space, according to a source via NFL.com.
That wouldn't be enough to pay Wallace $7 million this year, but the Steelers could give him a nice little bump from the $2.7 million tender this season and use that as the jumping-off point for a long-term deal.