There aren't many teams in the NFL in a more precarious salary cap situation than the Pittsburgh Steelers, a position that has already dictated several offseason moves. It could also determine how the team decides to try and retain Pro Bowl wide receiver Mike Wallace.
League sources have told NFL Network insider Jason La Canfora that there is "real concern" within the team's front office that they could lose Wallace, scheduled to become a restricted free agent next month.
Citing what he called "serious issues" with the salary cap, Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert has said the team would not re-sign any of its own free agents, including Wallace, before the start of free agency on March 13. The Steelers would like to sign Wallace to a long-term contract after back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons, but the price tag could prove to be prohibitive.
The Steelers could place the highest free-agent tender on Wallace, which would require teams to surrender a first-round pick if the Steelers do not match the offer. The team could opt for the franchise tag, expected to rise to $13.7 million for receivers in 2012, which La Canfora reported would cost more than $9 million against the cap.
The Steelers have until March 3 to apply the franchise tag to Wallace.
As of Feb. 6, the Steelers were $22.5 million over the cap, according to NFL.com research. The team has since restructured a number of contracts to create cap space, including that of offensive tackle Willie Colon. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported Tuesday that $3.8 million of Colon's $4.5 million salary in 2012 has been prorated over four years.
According to the Gazette, the Steelers remain $10 million over the cap. The agents for quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and linebacker James Harrison recently told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that their clients are open to restructuring their contracts.