Willie Colon's release from Steelers is due today
One day after they restructured the contract of outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley, the Steelers will create more salary-cap space today when they are expected to release offensive guard Willie Colon.
Colon, who had two years remaining on his contract, will be designated for a June 1 release -- meaning he can immediately become an unrestricted free agent and pursue signing with another team.
The move also means the Steelers will create $5.5 million in salary-cap space after June 1. That will push $4.3 million -- known as "dead money" -- into cap accounting in 2014.
Colon's departure was somewhat expected after he missed the entire 2010 season, all but one game of the 2011 season and five of the final six games last season because of injuries. But it became perfunctory when the Steelers re-signed guard Ramon Foster to a three-year contract Monday.
Woodley's restructuring will create $4 million in salary cap space in 2013. He was scheduled to earn $9 million in salary this year, but more than $5 million of that was turned into a signing bonus under the restructuring. That opened the cap space this year and pushed off the salary-cap accounting into future years.
The Steelers used some of that cap space to reach agreement on new contracts with three veterans who were unrestricted free agents -- inside linebacker Larry Foote, wide receiver Plaxico Burress and tight end David Johnson.
Foote, who will be 33 in June, agreed to a three-year deal to remain with the team. Burress and Johnson, who missed all last season with a knee injury, agreed to a one-year deal.
Johnson's return was necessitated when tight end Heath Miller tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee in the last game of the regular season. Miller might not be ready for the start of the 2013 regular season.
Meantime, the Steelers will begin entertaining outside free agents when quarterback Bruce Gradkowski, a Seton La Salle High School graduate who has played with four NFL teams, will visit the South Side today.
The Steelers wanted to re-sign Foote because they are thin at inside linebacker. The team is not sure if Sean Spence, their third-round pick last year, will be able to play this season -- or ever -- after severely injuring his injury, including multiple ligament and nerve damage, in the 2012 preseason.
Burress, a former No. 1 draft choice in 2000, was signed in November and played in four of the final six games. But, with the loss of Mike Wallace, who signed a five-year, $65 million contract with the Miami Dolphins Tuesday, the Steelers had only two wide receivers under contract on their roster -- Antonio Brown and Jerricho Cotchery.
Emmanuel Sanders is a restricted free agent and was tendered a $1,323,000 one-year offer to remain with the team. He can receive an offer sheet from another team, but the Steelers have the right to match that offer.
Three other players who were restricted free agents also received one-year, $1,323,000 tenders -- running backs Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer and nose tackle Steve McLendon. Dwyer already agreed to sign his one-year tender so he is no longer a restricted free agent.
If the Steelers decided not to match an offer for one of the players, the compensation would vary. The Steelers would get a third-round pick for Sanders because that's the round in which he was drafted. McLendon and Redman would bring no compensation because they were signed as rookie free agents.
Wallace was the only Steelers player to leave on the first day of free agency.
Cornerback Keenan Lewis, one of the top cornerbacks on the free-agent market, has not signed with another team -- something the Steelers expect him to do.
Also, running back Rashard Mendenhall flew to Arizona Tuesday night and is meeting with the Cardinals today.
First Published March 13, 2013 12:00 am