FanPost

A Look at the Steelers' Future Salary Cap Situation


There's been a lot of talk about how Casey Hampton's extension may affect extensions for players more important to our future, particularly LaMarr Woodley and Santonio Holmes.  Obviously there are questions as to whether there will be a cap or even revenue sharing in the coming years, and I have no idea how that will affect the Steelers spending.  Still, here's an estimation of how we're set up cap-wise if there is one.

Some notes: Most of this data has been taken from Rotoworld, which has a lot of typically scarce NFL salary data.  For a good number of these contracts, they have salary breakdowns for each year.  For the contracts that don't have those breakdowns (marked with an *), I just divided the contract amount by the number of years, which is rarely how they're actually structured.  I'm calculating signing bonus cap hits the same way, which is a more valid but not bulletproof assumption.  There are (or were) a bunch of weird rules for calculating cap space which I'm not going to attempt to figure out.  Also, I'm estimating $17.5M/yr for roster filler, including 3rd round or later rookies and cheap FA pickups to fill out the roster (25 spots x $700k avg.).  I'm going to guess that these numbers are about +/- $15M. 

Total Cap Hit:

Name 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
Ben Roethlisberger 10.9 11.2 14.75 14.75 14.75 14.75 15.25
Hines Ward* 5.525 5.525 5.525 5.525      
Casey Hampton   6.167 7.067 8.067      
Jeff Reed   2.814          
Chris Kemoeatu* 4 4 4 4 4    
Max Starks* 6.575 6.575 6.575 6.575      
Ziggy Hood*   1.605 1.748 1.833 1.87    
James Harrison 5.022 5.222 6.227 6.982 7.987 8.992  
James Farrior 3.975 3.825 3.825 3.825      
Ike Taylor 3.5 4.6          
Troy Polamalu 5.095 8.295 8.595        
Aaron Smith 3.95 6.6 6.1        
Brett Keisel* 3.777 3.777 3.777 3.777 3.777    
Heath Miller 5.883 5.883 5.883 5.883 5.883 5.883  
Justin Hartwig* 2.5 2.5 2.5 2.5      
Santonio Holmes 1.784 1.839          
Lawrence Timmons 2.071 2.161 2.261        
LaMarr Woodley 0.926 1.016          
Rashard Mendenhall 1.751 1.894 1.979 2.016      
Mewelde Moore   1.475          
Sean McHugh   0.83 0.99        
Chris Hoke   1.5          
Keyaron Fox* 0.9 0.9          
Daniel Sepulveda   1.176          
Trai Essex 0.96 0.96          
Willie Colon   2.521          
Greg Warren   0.7          
Limas Sweed 0.775 0.86 0.945        
Others 17.5 17.5 17.5 17.5 17.5 17.5 17.5
               
Total 87.37 113.92 100.25 83.23 55.77 47.13 32.75

Yearly Salaries (mostly non-guaranteed):

Name 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
Ben Roethlisberger 7.75 8.05 11.6 11.6 11.6 11.6 12.1
Hines Ward* 3.275 3.275 3.275 3.275      
Casey Hampton   4 4.9 5.9      
Jeff Reed   2.814          
Chris Kemoeatu* 3.223 3.223 3.223 3.223 3.223    
Max Starks* 4.075 4.075 4.075 4.075      
Ziggy Hood*   0.385 0.5275 0.6125 0.65    
James Harrison 3.355 3.555 4.56 5.315 6.32 7.325  
James Farrior 2.975 2.825 2.825 2.825      
Ike Taylor 3.5 4.6          
Troy Polamalu 2.9 6.1 6.4        
Aaron Smith 2.35 5 4.5        
Brett Keisel* 2.777 2.777 2.777 2.777 2.777    
Heath Miller 3.8 3.8 3.8 3.8 3.8 3.8  
Justin Hartwig* 1.975 1.975 1.975 1.975      
Santonio Holmes 0.7 0.755          
Lawrence Timmons 0.46 0.55 0.65        
LaMarr Woodley 0.46 0.55          
Rashard Mendenhall 0.385 0.5275 0.6125 0.65      
Mewelde Moore   1.475          
Sean McHugh   0.7 0.86        
Chris Hoke   1.5          
Keyaron Fox* 0.71 0.71          
Daniel Sepulveda   1.176          
Trai Essex 0.71 0.71          
Willie Colon   2.521          
Greg Warren   0.7          
Limas Sweed 0.385 0.47 0.555        
Others 17.5 17.5 17.5 17.5 17.5 17.5 17.5
               
Total 63.27 86.30 74.62 63.53 45.87 40.23 29.60

That's a lot of data, but here are a couple notes:

I'm encouraged that 2010 is around the recent salary caps, which tells me I'm in the right ballpark. 

We have a lot of money already tied up for 2011, with several key players not under contract: Woodley, Holmes, Taylor, Reed, Colon.  If there's a salary cap in 2011, we're going to have to make some tough decisions as well as restructure some things.

Once we get through 2011, things are much more flexible.  In addition to the space shown for 2012, we have options of saving up to $15M by shedding Hampton, Ward, Farrior, and Keisel.

If we can be creative with extensions in 2011, I think there's cap space to build our team around Ben, Holmes, Woodley, Troy, and maybe Timmons without skipping a beat.  As always, we're going to be counting on good drafts to continue to supply good, cheap players that will constitute the future round of extensions. 

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