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The All-Out Blitz - Steelers have tough decisions to make this offseason

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Steelers have tough decisions to make this offseason

If only the offseason could be as easy as the Steelers' 24-10 victory Sunday against the Cleveland Browns.

Avoiding the team's first losing season since 2003 was the easy part. The least we should expect from the Steelers is an 8-8 record and a third-place finish in the AFC North.

Now, general manager Kevin Colbert, coach Mike Tomlin and the Rooneys must figure out:

-- Who they can afford to keep.

-- Whose career is finished.

-- Where are they going to find a running back.

The problem is the Steelers are starting the offseason an estimated $12 million over the projected salary cap. They may not like what the math tells them.

Backed into a corner, the Steelers must try to restructure outside linebacker James Harrison's contract that will gobble up $10.3 million of cap space (as currently constructed).

He'll need to accept a salary reduction, but he isn't alone.

Can the Steelers afford to pay Troy Polamalu $7.5M in salary, if he remains an injury risk?

Meanwhile, the team has 18 unrestricted free agents, and some have been important players (Rashard Mendenhall, Mike Wallace, Max Starks, Casey Hampton, Ramon Foster and Keenan Lewis).

Of those six, Lewis, a nicely developing cornerback, might be the team's top priority. Foster, a a reliable guard, shouldn't be minimized, either.

On the other hand, Wallace will cost $10.3M under a franchise tag. 

Unless team officials make some surprising decisions, say goodbye to Hampton (too old), Wallace (too expensive) and Mendenhall (too selfish).

The Steelers usually find a way to rid themselves of such trouble.


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