For a team that was roughly $15 million over the 2014 salary cap at the beginning of the week, the Steelers have been busy in the days leading up to free agency.
On Monday, they used the transition tag on outside linebacker Jason Worilds (he accepted it a day later and the two sides are reportedly working on a long-term deal, which would reduce his '14 cap number of $9.75 million). On Wednesday morning, they gave tight end Heath Miller and safety Troy Polamalu contract extensions through 2016, further reducing the Steelers' cap. Hours later they created even more room when they released linebacker Larry Foote, cornerback Curtis Brown and tackle Levi Brown.
Foote, a fourth-round pick in 2002, started 104 regular season games for the Steelers. Curtis Brown was a third-round pick in 2011 but never became the cornerback the team envisioned when he was drafted, though he excelled on special teams before tearing his ACL last season. Levi Brown was acquired in a trade with the Cardinals last October but never saw the field. He suffered a triceps injury before the Steelers faced the Jets and was placed on injured reserve.
The moves free up more cap space for the Steelers ahead of next Tuesday's deadline. Foote's release frees up $1.67 million in cap savings, Curtis Brown frees up $645,000 and Levi Brown frees up $6.25 million. According to OvertheCap.com, the Steelers are approximately $3.1 million over the cap.
Don't be surprised in the coming days if the team also asks veteran cornerback Ike Taylor to take a pay cut (he's due $7 million in 2014) or cut him outright.