In the past day, news that the Pittsburgh Steelers have "restructured" the contract of veteran tight end Heath Miller, who is in the final season of his contract (2014) has flooded the news wire. This was due mainly to a twitter message posted by Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. With time running out on his current contract, the Steelers wouldn't have been able to defer money to subsequent seasons - the very definition of a restructuring. With no news coming from the Steelers head office, it makes sense that the team would be looking at extending Miller's contract with the team past 2014 if the cap money is there and Miller is willing to negotiate.
Prior to his knee injury in 2012 and slow return to the Steelers lineup in 2013, Miller was a major part of Pittsburgh's offense. Although Miller was not targeted as often by quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in 2013 as he has been in the past, he made big strides late in the season to show that he still has what it takes to be an effective weapon in the Steelers arsenal. Miller would be an excellent candidate to have in the Steelers camp should Pittsburgh opt to reach for a tight end in the 2014 NFL Draft or free agency. Miller's time with the Steelers has proven that he has a track record of being a valuable mentor as well as a favorite player, especially amongst the offense and fans. His 2014 cap-hit is nearly $9 million as it currently stands.
General Manager Kevin Colbert said that compliance with the 2014 NFL salary cap, set at $133 million per team, is a must. "You obviously have to be in compliance," said Colbert," (but then) are we $1 under the cap or are we $3 million under the cap? We won't know that really until we get to March 11. You hope to have maneuverability at that stage." The deadline: 4 p.m. on that date. Three ways the team can do just as Colbert has referenced is to use extensions, restructurings and terminations. As of Monday, the only deal that appears to have been confirmed by the Steelers is that they have used the 'transition' tag on Jason Worilds. By designating Worilds in this manner, Pittsburgh has the right to first refusal in order to match any offer sheet the linebacker may receive from another team - five days.
Extending Miller to a new contract at a veteran's minimum would be one way the Steelers would be able to follow Colbert's compliance plan. Miller could opt to negotiate for a different contract with terms similar to those used by other players in the past in order to remain with the team as well. Unfortunately, until the official word comes from the South Side, any deal that is on the table is likely to be merely speculation. Stay tuned to hear the final word once it becomes available.