Should the Steelers keep LaMarr Woodley or let him go and re-sign Jason Worilds? General manager Kevin Colbert said they could keep both, but he said it with little conviction and, for many reasons, it just is not conceivable that both Woodley and Worilds will be on the team in 2014. Forget the finances, who do you start? Worilds is not returning for backup money and you cannot pay him starter money and not start him. They did not draft Jarvis Jones in the first round last year to be a backup in his second season. So, one must stay and one most go (unless somehow they cannot sign Worilds and release Woodley, which would leave them with only one proven starter, Jones, and he hasn't proven himself yet). The debate, though, has turned into one of people throwing their hands in the air and declaring that Woodley would cost too much to release. That simply is not the case, as we've pointed out many times; he would cost much, much less. Woodley is due an $8 million salary in 2014, when he will count $13,590,000 on their salary cap, according to overthecap.com. He is signed through the 2016 season with salaries (and cap hits) of $8.5 million ($14.09M) in 2015 and $9 million ($11.99M) in 2016. So, let's say they would cut Woodley today. They would save all the salaries they owe him, including the $8 million this year. According to the league's CBA rules, however, all of the pro-rated bonus money that has been spread out over the next three seasons would count this year. If they cut Woodley today, he would count $14.17 million on their salary cap this year, nearly a wash for what he will count -- $13.59 million -- if you keep him. But by cutting him now, he is wiped off their books for 2015 and 2016 and for a team that many say is in salary-cap hell, that's a significant cap savings -- a total of $25.5 million (his salaries) in both real money and cap savings over three seasons with none of it counting after this one. If they keep Woodley at his current salary in 2014, they must keep him again in 2015 or face a similar salary-cap issue next year if the debate continues. Their other option -- besides keeping him or cutting him now -- would be to designate him for release June 1 when the accounting rules laid down by the CBA change. If they would do that, Woodley would count $5.59 million on their cap this year with an $8 million savings from the salary he would not receive. He would then count $8.98 million on their cap in 2015 -- and nothing in 2016. Either way, those are significant savings. One thing about designating a player for a June 1 release, the Steelers would not receive that $8 million cap relief for Woodley this year until June 1. Presumably, that savings would not go to any free agent they would like to sign from their own roster or outside. However, that money/cap savings could be put to use toward extending their own players, say Ben Roethlisberger, in June. Or even Cam Heyward, Cortez Allen, Maurkice Pouncey, etc. They will find the cap savings before March 11 in order to try to sign Worilds and Jerricho Cotchery. The rest can wait until June 1.
Economics key to Woodley's fate
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | Feb 16