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Steelers Salary Cap: How the signings of Plaxico Burress and Brian Hoyer affect the cap position

How the Steelers' recent free agent signings affect the 2012 salary cap status

Karl Walter

With the recent trend of injuries plaguing the 2012 Pittsburgh Steelers, walking the fine line of staying within the limits of the salary cap has become more of a tap dance on eggshells.

Because of the rib injuries sustained by Byron Leftwich and Jerricho Cotchery against the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday night, the Steelers found themselves rifling through their Rollodexes in an effort to fill the temporary voids left by their fallen players. After several players were invited for workouts, the Steelers found their men in Plaxico Burress and Brian Hoyer.

Both Hoyer, and Burress, were offered league-minimum salaries, with no signing bonuses, based on their counted years of NFL experience, as defined by the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Burress, who is entering his 11th season in the NFL, received a contract worth 925,000. Hoyer, who is entering his 4th, signed a deal worth 615,000. However, because they were not on an active roster before this week, only a percentage of their respective deals will count against the Steelers' Cap calculations.

Before Leftwich and Cotchery went down, the Steelers' team cap hit stood at 118,162,438. A team's total cap hit is calculated by adding the collective individual cap hits of its 51 highest paid players to any dead money associated with the season in question. However, to figure out our new cap standing, will require some extra math.

To make room for Burress and Hoyer, the Steelers released running back Baron Batch and linebacker Marshall McFadden. Marshall McFadden was playing under an undrafted rookie league-minimum with no signing bonus; meaning no dead money. Batch on the other hand, still had 3 years left on his contract with $11,628 in bonus money attached per season. His release incurred a dead money penalty of $38,884. Because it is after June 1st, the Front Office split his penalty over this season, and next year ($11,628 against this year's cap, and $23,256 against the 2013 cap).

Because NFL salaries are paid out on a weekly basis, a team is allowed to deduct the time missed by a new, incoming player from their cap hits. Plaxico's contract then results in a cap hit of $346,875; and Hoyer's hit equals $230,625. Once Batch's salary ($476,628) has been removed from the ledger (minus his $11,628 in dead money), and the remainder of McFadden's contract has been terminated ($121,875); figuring in our two new players' contracts leaves our new cap standing at $118,804,116.

We are still almost $2 million under the cap. Hopefully, the injuries have come to an end, and we won't have to worry about how to spend it.