There have been some ramblings as of late about the fates of veteran linebacker James Harrison and offensive guard Willie Colon. With the salary cap issues the Steelers are dealing with, neither player would be a bargain to hold onto, but options could be put into play if the organization and the players make mutual agreements. Pittsburgh has already passed beneath the $123 million salary cap for the 2013 NFL year. However, they remain in flux over whether deals can be made with Harrison or Colon.
While the Steelers still have not restructured a contract with linebacker LaMarr Woodley, the team is just over $1 million beneath the cap. That means that talks must begin in urgency to either get Colon and Harrison to commit to a salary reduction in order to remain in Pittsburgh or to walk away. The Steelers also have to decide who to tender in the restricted and exclusive rights players on the list, including: Jonathan Dwyer, Steve McLendon, Jeremy Kapinos, Isaac Redman, Stevenson Sylvester, Emmanuel Sanders, Baron Batch and DeMarcus Van Dyke.
While talks seem to have stalled between Harrison and the team, there are two ways that could keep Harrison in Pittsburgh. Harrison is 35 years old and due $6.57 million in 2013 and would receive nearly $8 million in 2014. Harrison could agree to take a pay cut by restructuring his contract, which the Steelers could turn around and opt into giving him a signing bonus. Harrison could also receive an extended contract from the Steelers and be paid the minimum as a 10-year veteran in 2013, be with the team through 2016 and a pro-rated bonus over four years. According to Ed Bouchette, this would cost the Steelers $940,000 in 2013 with a bonus of $5.63 million ($1,407,500 each year). If Harrison is unwilling, and things are certainly looking that way, he will see himself with another team in 2013. Harrison's agent, Bill Parise, says that Harrison wants to be in Pittsburgh and spoke to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com about how hard both sides have worked to come up with a solid agreement.
As for Colon, a lot of talk has centered around him not being an option the Steelers are willing to keep on the roster for 2013. According to Joe Linta, Colon's agent, the Steelers have made it clear that there is no current plan to play with Colon's contract, just as they have not requested that Colon accept a reduced salary plan. As part of the five-year, $29 million contract signed by Colon in 2011, he is expected to earn $5.5 million in 2013. Colon's longevity is a question as he has only been able to start 13 games in the past two seasons. He spent time in 2012 on the injured-reserved list. Rumors that a younger offensive line is desired in Pittsburgh have only complicated Colon's situation. Colon is still rehabbing after post-season knee surgery. It appears as if the only chance he has of staying in Pittsburgh for the 2013 season is if he is able to become their number one left guard and stay healthy. Right now it is looking as if Colon won't make it to the 2013 regular season and may not even be at training camp in Latrobe.
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