The Steelers are sitting at 41 signed players with a $77,182,846 cap that will magically balloon to 81 million. Adding 5% on to last year's cap gives us 78.750 million to work with. A clear case of "new math" is in order, and the resolve is addition through subtraction. I have a spreadsheet divided into two parts, pre and post June cuts. Leaving a player's row in either section cuts him from the cap in proper increments.

The Cap-O-Matic let's you do this and here is a look-see. Hint: It looks like a mess until you use it, and make sure you don't cut the same player twice by leaving his row in both sections.

It's a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. After you save it you can hit your Back button to come back here.
Download your Cap-O-Matic

Here is my cap budget after using the Cap-O-Matic.

Player, Pos. Pre June Dead Money Pre June Cap Savings Post June Dead Money Post June Cap Savings 2004 Dead Sum 2005 Dead Sum Final Cap Reduction
Post June Cuts              
J.Bettis, RB 3,420,000 1,337,000 1,710,000 3,047,000 1,710,000 1,710,000 3,047,000
M.Bruener, TE 1,800,000 1,195,000 900,000 2,095,000 900,000 900,000 2,095,000
J.Riemersma, TE 566,666 811,667 283,333 1,095,000 283,333 283,333 1,095,000
O.Ross, OT 357,666 1,759,000 178,833 1,937,833 178,833 178,833 1,937,833
D.Washington, CB 2,850,000 1,950,000 1,425,000 3,375,000 1,425,000 1,425,000 3,375,000
A.Zereoue, RB 1,372,500 1,365,000 686,250 2,051,250 686,250 686,250 2,051,250
Post June Totals 10,366,832 8,417,667 5,183,416 13,601,083      
Pre June Cuts              
B.Alexander, FS             212,500 950,000 106,250 1,056,250 212,500   950,000
C.Batch, QB 255,000 1,000,000 127,500 1,127,500 255,000   1,000,000
T.Fordham, OT 0 650,000 0 650,000 0   650,000
K.Clancy,NT 151,250 605,000     151,250   605,000
D.Kreider,FB 151,250 605,000     151,250   605,000
M.Logan,FS 301,280 1,205,120     301,280   1,205,120
Pre June Totals 1,071,280 5,015,120 535,640 5,550,760 1,071,280    
Final Cut Figures         7,325,976 5,183,416 18,616,203
Your 2004 Cap             67,660,333

Remember the 14 players with no contracts?

To have a fair chance at looking at our options, all 14 players have been resigned to a one-year contract with a 25% raise as guaranteed money. It gives you a 53-man squad again. Several will be resigned, and you will be amazed at how close this works out to reality when it is all said and done. This added another 9,093,690 dollars to the cap making it a whopping 86,276,536 in the end. You now can play GM and design your cuts toward free agency and the upcoming draft with hard numbers to support it.

Again, the names in blue are players I cut after giving them new one-year contracts. (Sound familiar?) The first thing I did was shave to 10 million under the cap and sign 42 players instead of 41. The players cut above are there for two reasons, cap value and lack of talent, sorry. Offensive line depth and Special Teams heroes were 11 of the 14 players currently without contracts that stayed on the club. They have reasonable contracts; some may be signed longer this year, although the effect will be similar to my cap figures regardless.

Before we get into specifics, there are a few dynamics you need to be aware of.
Never cut players that you have exclusive rights to.
Make sure you don't overload that 2005 dead money.
Keep yourself flexible.
It's OK to force needs with cuts if you raise the talent level with a replacement.

Some specifics:
Players I cut before June are cut before free agency begins.
Be prepared to cut another player from the same position you acquire in FA.

My strategy:
Get a legitimate starter at CB. Fernando Bryant at 26 a perfect candidate. He probably has a ton of money owed him by now and is probably sick of Coughlin. Charles Woodson is only 27 and could get me to pay untold sums of money on a back-loaded contract. He must be dying to get out of Oakland. Both players are unrestricted. Antoine Winfield is still coachable and a legitimate starter with possibilities.

Ty Law has been told he must lower his salary to remain a Patriot. He is only willing to restructure. He and Lawyer Malloy have the same agent, I think we know where this is heading. He turns 30 in February and may or may not see that 5,650,000 dollars. He will become available post June.

We can backload a CB contract quite well with Scot and Townsend able to pay the bill next year. Draft a real good CB and your secondary has some fantastic possibilities in 2004. Townsend could be cut this year in this scenario as well.

I cut two OT and there wont be any tears hitting the floor. This forces the issue, and John Tait or Damien Woody would secure our line for years. If it's Tait, Faneca comes back to OG. If it's Woody, Faneca becomes a LT. Let's face it, our track record with OTs has been iffy at best. With Woody, you convince Hartings to put out one more year, and he covers the backloaded contract in 2005 cuts.

Free Agency is a very good idea this year IF you sign the right people to the contracts. Signing a premier CB and OT are doable, and necessary to avoid blowing the team up. This will open up the draft to some very special players. This draft has very good RB's CB's and QB's. You have to set yourself up to the best draft scenario to have a great draft. You have to make things happen. You may have noticed I cut two RB's (Bettis and Zereoue) and Batch at QB.

You have to have things organized in a heap to see the whole picture. I wonder if team Cowbert has a Cap-O-Matic?

I call it the "Cap-O-Matic", but it started out as a "Cut-O-Matic". After the loss to Cleveland I was so angry it became therapeutic to create a spreadsheet and begin the "hack and cut" routine. Believe me, nothing much was sacred. At one point I had the entire team cut and had begun the process of going back in time, cutting previous squads.

To hear some tell the story, they were drawn to maniacal laughter in the basement. All I really remember is my neighbor looking at me with sorrowful eyes saying, "Hey man, take it easy." "C'mon, how many times can you cut Jamain Stephens and still laugh like that?"

Some people just don't get it.

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