Some players that are on the Steelers roster are still valuable to the team, but they are not worth the money they are currently set to make.
The following players need to have their cap number reduced, so that the team can make the moves necessary to be successful long into the future.
Smith is currently scheduled to make $4.5 million dollars. There is no questioning that Smith has been an amazing player for his time in Pittsburgh. Unfortunately, in the NFL, this is a "what have you done for me lately" league. Over the last two seasons, Smith has missed a total of 21 games.
Ziggy Hood did a great job at replacing Smith in 2010, and his time to take over is just about here. Smith needs to take a pay cut to about $1.5 million dollars, or he needs to be shown the door. As a free agent, Smith would not make more than that, so he should be happy to accept it.
James Farrior has been the Captain of the Steelers defense for the better part of the last decade. He has not only been the leader on the field, but in the locker room as well. the problem with Farrior is, he is getting old, and is no longer able to be the player he was during passing downs. If you are being honest, you might even consider him a liability in pass coverage.
That being said, he is still worth keeping around for short yardage and goal line situations, but with a salary of $2.85 million, he simply isn't worth that type of money.
Since Farrior is only going to be playing half the downs, then he needs to be paid half his salary. Since he has been such a leader for so long, I would pay him $1.5 million for this season.
The other anchor of the Steelers defensive line. Keisel made a career on the opposite side of Aaron Smith, but there was never really a question of which one was better. Keisel was always second to Smith, because honestly, Smith was that much better.
That being said, Keisel is in the same boat as Smith. Only, Smiths replacement (Ziggy Hood) is already able to replace him, while Keisels replacement (first round pick, Cameron Hayward) is not ready to step in and be the full time starter his rookie season.
It would be great to have Keisel to stay with Smith and train the future with Hood and Hayward, but with a salary over $3 million, he is simply costing too much money, especially if Aaron Smith is going to take less.
I would give Keisel the same $1.5 million that I am giving Smith, and no more.
When Kemoeatu was a free agent two years ago, the New York Jets tried everything they could to lure him from the Steelers. Looking back on it, many Steelers fans believe they should have simply let him go.
Though Kemo has not been a player that is going to make Steelers fans forget Alan Faneca, he has still been a decent player, and has had some very good games.
Still, a salary of $2,973,000 is too much for a player that the Steelers could be replacing in the next two years.
Kemo still needs to make good money, but a slight pay cut is in order in this instance, down to $2 million.
In the NFL, there is no position, other than QB, that is more important than LT. The person that is responsible for protecting the blind side of your $100 million dollar ball thrower needs to be paid to keep him upright.
Ben Roethlisberger has never had that type of protection. Max Starks has done a decent job, but is not worth anywhere near the $5,140,000 that he is making.
Add to that, Starks is coming off a serious neck injury. At this point, no one even knows if Starks is going to be able to return to the field, let alone be the player he used to be. Even though the player he used to be was never that great in the first place.
Starks should be making no more than $3 million for this year, at least until the Steelers know he is healthy again.
(I can almost feel the rage of some Steelers fans as I write this)
There was a day when the Steelers had to make a choice, Hines Ward or Plaxico Burress. They chose Ward, and paid him a decent salary at the time. One that was about $4 million in total dollars more than Plaxico got with the Giants.
The Steelers made the right decision, as Ward went on to become the Super Bowl MVP, while Burress went on to shoot himself in the leg and go to prison.
Wards best days are in his rear view mirror now, and he is not worth the $3 million he is scheduled to make this year.
With Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown both better players (TODAY) than Ward is (TODAY), and understanding that Ward is going to have a diminished role in the offense, I think Ward should accept a pay cut to $1.5 million.
This brings the Steelers salary to $114, 184,000. Almost $16 million under the cap.