Steelers Beat Writer

Dale Lolley is a contributor to the Observer-Reporter and has been covering the Pittsburgh Steelers since 1993.

Over the course of the season, there have been a lot of doomsday predictions regarding the 2021 NFL salary cap.

But in recent weeks some of those predictions regarding the salary cap coming in at the $175 million floor negotiated by the NFL and NFLPA before this season began have begun to see the light.

That $175 million number that’s been thrown around was negotiated with the idea that it would give teams an idea of how low things could go. It was not meant to be the hard number.

That’s good news for the league, which operated this season with a salary cap of $198.2 million.

The expectation was that the cap would go up to at least $210 million in 2021. Then COVID-19 hit and more than half the teams in the league played without any fans in their stadium for more than half the season.

The Cowboys led the league in attendance averaging around 30,000 per game.

Obviously, revenue streams were affected.

But a cap of $175 million would devastate the league. Half the teams in the league, including the Steelers, would have to cut players just to get to that number. Which is why it won’t happen.

According to a report by the NFL Network, the NFL and NFLPA began meetings last week to begin the process of negotiating that higher number.

There will be various numbers tossed around in the media over the coming weeks. But you can bet the 2021 cap will come in a lot closer to that $198.2 million cap of this season than it will the $175 million mark.

There would be too many veterans released who would wind up making less money or none at all for the league to allow that to happen.

  • I’m seeing a lot of things saying that it’s not a done deal that Ben Roethlisberger will return to the Steelers in 2021.

But the Steelers want it to happen and Roethlisberger wants it to happen.

So, while it’s not a done deal until it’s a done deal, it’s highly likely.

  • The Rams gave up a king’s ransom for Matthew Stafford from the Lions last week, sending quarterback Jared Goff, two first-round draft picks and a third to acquire the 33-year-old quarterback.

That’s why the Steelers shouldn’t get into the market for a veteran quarterback.

Heck, that’s why they couldn’t do so. Does anyone seriously think the Lions would have taken Mason Rudolph along with the picks package the Rams gave up for Stafford?

Does anyone really think a 33-year-old quarterback who has broken bones in his back twice is really worth that kind of haul?

  • The Rams apparently don’t like first-round draft picks. After sending two first-round picks to the Lions to get Stafford, Los Angeles will go seven seasons without a first-round selection.

The Steelers went that route in the 1960s, which is why they stopped trading away future first-round picks.

  • There seems to be a feeling that because Mike Tomlin elevated Matt Canada and Adrian Klemm of his current coaching staff to fill the vacant offensive coordinator and offensive line coach jobs that either nobody else wanted the job or the Steelers don’t pay their assistant coaches. Or, that the hirings mean it will simply be more of the same for the Steelers.

That’s simply not the case.

Canada and Klemm have been with the Steelers a very short time. And while it’s true the Steelers’ assistant coach salary expenditures are lower than most other in the league, that’s because they have fewer coaches – 16 last season – than many other teams.

Fewer coaches means less salary. And it’s probably not necessary, as some teams seem to think, to have one assistant coach for every two players. More does not mean better.

Had Tomlin hired Canada this year instead of last, or Klemm instead of two years ago, would the critics look at these hires differently?

And the end result will be the same. Tomlin will have three new coaches on his staff in 2021 one way or the other.

This week’s pick

Chiefs (minus 3) over Bucs: This is Tom Brady’s 10th Super Bowl. But he hasn’t been unbeatable in this game, going 6-3 in his previous Super Bowls. The Chiefs have some issues with their offensive line. They’ll start four linemen who have been released at some point in their career and a fifth who was a 2019 seventh-round draft pick. But Patrick Mahomes excels under pressure. And why shouldn’t he with the weapons he has at his disposal? Look for Mahomes to outduel Brady in this one. One thing Brady doesn’t handle well any longer is pressure. See his three interceptions in the NFC Championship. If he makes those kind of mistakes against the Chiefs, this could be a blowout. Take the Chiefs, 31-28

Season Record ATS: 44-44-6

Dale Lolley covers the Steelers for and writes a Sunday column for the Observer-Reporter.

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