Steelers, DE Stephon Tuitt Nearing Extension

The Steelers and defensive end Stephon Tuitt are close to inking a contract extension, according to Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.Stephon Tuitt (Vertical)

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Pittsburgh has a team policy not to negotiate new deals once the regular season gets underway, so the club will cease talks after Saturday. The Steelers are tight on cap space — just under $7MM, per Over the Cap — and that’s accounting for fellow defensive lineman Cameron Heyward‘s contract restructure, which opened ~$3.1MM. An extension for Tuitt would likely cut into those reserves, as Pittsburgh nearly always relatively large signing bonuses.

Tuitt doesn’t have to worry about a fifth-year option given that he was selected in the second round of the 2014 draft, so he’ll hit the open market next spring. Scheduled to earn just $1.094MM in 2017, Tuitt posted four sacks a season ago while grading as Pro Football Focus’ No. 20 interior defender. The going rate for non-Muhammad Wilkerson/J.J. Watt 3-4 defensive ends is around $10MM annually, and given his age (24), Tuitt could reach or surpass that mark.

The 2018 franchise tag for defensive ends figures to come in north of $17MM, a figure that’s probably untenable for a 3-4 end like Tuitt. As such, the Steelers will need to hammer out an agreement with Tuitt or risk losing him to free agency next year.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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