One day after the Baltimore Ravens made a trade to attempt to fix their offensive line, the 0-4 Steelers got into the mix trading for Arizona Cardinals starting LT Levi Brown.
This is a trade that is hard to make sense of from either side. Arizona, who is 2-2 and could easily be 3-1, will be moving their starter in what is essentially a salary dump and I have to imagine an admission that the offense is not getting any worse without him there. The Cardinals must have planned on releasing him next season and this at least saves them the balance of his salary for the year. Arizona will save $3,623,353 in cap and cash space by trading Brown, who they has signed just last year to a contract that contained a $7 million dollar signing bonus. He will count for $4.2 million in dead money against the Cardinals 2014 salary cap.
Pittsburgh will now further compromise their salary cap with the addition of Brown. Brown’s cap number will add $3.6 million to Pittsburgh’s current payroll. As of Tuesday they only had $1.86 million in cap space meaning they will need to create nearly significant cap space to execute the trade. The Steelers have already gone to the restructure route multiple times in the last two years which has left them with a difficult cap situation again in 2014, where they are estimated to already be a few million over the cap with just 40 players under contract. The addition of Brown will add another $6.25 million to the teams payroll in 2014 plus whatever money is pushed from 2013 to 2014 via a restructure.Possible restructure candidates could be Ike Taylor or Troy Polamalu while they could also consider extending Ryan Clark for some cap relief.
If Brown fails the Steelers can cut him next year with no penalties, but at 0-4 its hard to see why the team would choose to waste $3.6 million in cap room on a player that has played poorly in Arizona. Brown had to be aware of the fact that the Cardinals could have cut him next season and made him a free agent so he was not a player who felt added protection based on his contract and wasn’t giving 100% as is sometimes the case. Maybe this proves to be a better system for Brown or acts as a wakeup call but it just seems like too much to invest considering the issues with the teams’ salary cap moving forward and their status in 2013.
Jason is the founder of OTC and has been studying NFL contracts and the salary cap for over 15 years. Jason has co-authored two books about the NFL, Crunching Numbers and the Drafting Stage, which are widely circulated in the industry and hosts the OTC Podcast. Jason’s work has been featured in various publications including the Sporting News, Sports Illustrated, NFL Network and more. OTC is widely considered the leading authority on contract matters in the NFL.