While the Steelers made another bookkeeping move to dig out more room on their salary cap, they also made a statement -- offensive tackle Willie Colon is here to stay.
Colon, who has played just one game the past two seasons because of injuries, restructured his contract to whittle $2.85 million off the salary accounting for 2012.
It still leaves them roughly $8 million over the cap before the March 13 deadline after the latest of four contract restructures and player releases chopped their overage from an estimated $25 million a month ago. The salary cap is expected to be $120 million per team.
The Steelers took $3.8 million of Colon's $4.5 million salary for 2012 and turned it into a bonus, guaranteeing that part of his contract. Colon has four years left on the five-year contract he signed last year, so that $3.8 million will be pro-rated over the life of the contract -- $950,000 for salary-cap purposes annually. Since that also includes this season, that created the $2.85 million in salary-cap space.
The move also reaffirms the team's commitment to Colon as their right tackle. General manager Kevin Colbert reportedly said Marcus Gilbert will move to left tackle, which would leave Colon at right tackle.
Colon started three seasons at right tackle without missing a game before injuries took hold. He missed 2010 with an Achilles rupture. He started the opener last season but missed the rest of '11 because of a torn triceps. The Steelers signed him to a five-year, $29 million contract in August.
Gilbert, a second-round draft pick last year, replaced Colon and remained the team's starting right tackle all season. The Steelers also have reworked the contracts of linebackers LaMarr Woodley and Lawrence Timmons and cornerback Ike Taylor in similar fashion to help create salary-cap room.
Meanwhile, an emerging drama inside the Steelers has ended: Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and new offensive coordinator Todd Haley met recently and talked. The new collective bargaining agreement bars coaches and players from discussing playbooks, so the sitdown likely could be described as a get-to-know-you session. Haley was hired Feb. 6.