It’s the speculation that just won’t die.
This evening, Chris Simms, former college and NFL quarterback forecast on Twitter that Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston will sign with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
— Chris Simms (@CSimmsQB) March 16, 2020
Winston is slated to became a free agent after spending his only five seasons in the NFL with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the team that made him the number one pick in the 2015 draft. The 26-year-old former Florida State QB went 28-42, throwing for over 19,000 yards and 121 touchdowns against 88 interceptions.
In his podcast “Chris Simms Unbuttoned,” Simms laid out his argument in a segment with his famous father, Phil Simms, saying, “If I’m the Pittsburgh Steelers, I would probably call Jameis Winston.” A theory that 26-year NFL analyst Phil Simms doubled down on, interjecting “That would be, the first place I would look and try and work it out … and is he better than their backup quarterbacks? I think so.”
Simms goes on to compare Winston’s situation to that of Teddy Bridgewater who went to the Saints on a “show me” deal.
“If Winston goes to Pittsburgh, he’s going to have at least a good team around him, he’ll have a chance to show people ‘hey, look, I can be a starting quarterback’ and further his career.”
Simms and Simms go on to say that the Steelers believe they’re still a Super Bowl contender but that the window is “closing fast” and need “insurance” in case Roethlisberger goes down.
However, both Simms seem to couch the the idea of the Steelers getting the quarterback with the caveat of “if Winston leaves the Buccaneers.”
You can listen to the Simms’ explain in full why they think Winston to the Steelers would make sense starting at the 23:45 mark.
This isn’t the first time an analyst has connected Winston to the Steelers. Last week, ESPN’s Matt Bowen said that the Steelers would be the best fit schematically for the talented but interception-prone quarterback.
The Buccaneers have yet to make a decision on whether or not they plan on resigning Winston, however NBC Sports’ NFL insider Peter King believes that it is “likely” that Winston returns to the team that drafted him.
Even if Winston would make sense for the Steelers, there’s still the matter of the Steelers tenuous salary cap situation, which neither Bowen or the Simms touched on. The Steelers are already spending over $30 million of cap space on Roethlisberger and will need to make cuts in order to get under the salary cap for the start of the new league year without Winston.
The Steelers have also said they want to retain outside linebacker Bud Dupree. There’s almost no way they could do that and sign another quarterback.
Steelers Sign Center J.C. Hassenauer on One-Year Deal
The Pittsburgh Steelers have signed center J.C. Hassenauer to a one-year deal, first reported by ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler.
Steelers sign center J.C. Hassenauer, an exclusive rights free agent, to a one-year deal, per source.— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) March 4, 2021
An exclusive right free agent, Hassenauer was almost a lock to return to Pittsburgh in 2021. His new deal with the Steelers is worth $780,000.
Hassenauer proved a vital piece along the Steelers’ offensive line a season ago, seeing action in 15 games and making four starts. He was on the field for 23% of the team’s offensive stats, while also appearing on 50 special teams plays.
Prior to Pittsburgh, Hassenauer signed with the Atlanta Falcons as an undrafted free agent in 2018, spending the first seven weeks of the season on their practice squad.
He played for the Birmingham Iron of the Alliance of American Football in 2019.
Hassenauer played his college ball at Alabama. He made just three career starts for the Crimson Tide, with his final coming in the 2018 College Football Playoff national championship game, a 26-23 overtime win over Georgia.
Hassenauer’s agent Blake Baratz confirmed the signing on Twitter on Thursday.
Steelers Estimated $3.6m Under Salary Cap after New Contract for Ben Roethlisberger
The Steelers have are salary cap compliant and have an estimated $3.6 million in breathing room after renegotiating the contract of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger on Thursday, according to contract figures reported by NFL Network, salary cap data from OverTheCap.com and Steelers Now analysis.
Roethlisberger’s contract, which is technically a five-year deal, but will last only through the 2021 season before being voided will save the team $15.3 million under the 2021 salary cap.
Though the Steelers are finally in the black with regards to the 2021 salary cap, they will still likely need to make additional moves to shore up extra salary cap space. The team will need over $8 million in space to sign its 2021 NFL Draft class, the final two players for the 53-man roster and a practice squad. Only the top 51 contracts count toward the cap in the offseason.
The Steelers’ estimated $3.6 million in cap space is based on a $180 million salary cap, which is based on Steelers Now sources on several national reports. The final salary cap figure for 2021 has not yet been made official.
The team has a three contracts that can be restructured, those of defensive end Stephon Tuitt, kicker Chris Boswell and fullback Derek Watt, that could save the team around another $6 million.
The contracts of guard David DeCastro and cornerbacks Joe Haden and Steven Nelson could also be extended or re-negotiated. All are entering the final season of their contract.
The Steelers have two dozen pending free agents, including starters Tyson Alualu, Zach Banner, Jordan Berry, James Conner, Bud Dupree, Matt Feiler, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Alejandro Villanueva and key reserves Mike Hilton and Cameron Sutton.
Starting center J.C. Hassenauer and backup inside linebackers Marcus Allen and Robert Spillane are exclusive rights free agents. Backup outside linebacker Ola Adeniyi and wide receiver and kick returner Ray-Ray McCloud are restricted free agents.
Report: Ben Roethlisberger Took $5m Pay Cut, Lowers Cap Hit by $15m
The Pittsburgh Steelers and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger agreed to a new contract for the 2021 season on Thursday and details of the deal are now being reported.
Roethlisberger agreed to a $5 million pay cut as part of a new contract that will technically run through 2025, with the final four seasons becoming void after 2021.
Roethlisberger was set to earn $4 million in salary and a $15 million roster bonus for 2021, none of which was guaranteed. Instead, he will earn $1.075 million in salary, with $12.925 million converted to guaranteed signing bonus. That signing bonus will be spread over the initial five years of the contract.
That means that Roethlisberger will count for a total of $25.91 million against the Steelers’ 2021 salary cap, a savings of $15.3 million. The details of Roethlisberger’s contract were first reported by Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.
After the final four years of Roethlisberger’s contract are voided, the Steelers will have $10.3 million of dead money, which will count against the team’s salary cap in 2022 or will be spread out between 2022 and 2023.
Roethlisberger, 39, had a strong season statistically in 2020, passing for 3,803 yards and 33 touchdowns with ten interceptions, but saw his play slide as the team dropped five of its final six games.
A two-time Super Bowl champion, Roethlisberger is the Steelers’ all-time leader in passing yards (60,349), touchdowns (396), completions (5,050) and wins (156).
Steelers Now’s Alan Saunders contributed salary cap information and graphic to this report.