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Tracking the Steelers’ spending compared to the rest of the NFL

How does the Black-and-gold stack up salary-wise with the NFL as a whole? We’ve got the answers.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers-Minicamp Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Pittsburgh Steelers fans lament how much their beloved team spends on the offensive side of the ball, while skimping on the defense. According to Over the Cap, Pittsburgh currently spends $107.6 million on offense and $77.7 million on defense. This is to be expected considering JuJu Smith-Schuster is the lone starter still on a rookie deal (including Roosevelt Nix as a starter, not as a third wide receiver). At tight end, Vance McDonald over Jesse James based solely on McDonald’s hefty contract, which suggests he should be on the field more, if healthy. Defensively, only six starters (included Jon Bostic as a starter) are on their second contracts.

How do the Steelers compare with the rest of the NFL? How does the Black-and-gold compare to the rest of the league on a positional breakdown?

OTC came out with a positional breakdown before the draft, showcasing spending on the five offensive and five defensive positions based on average annual value (AAV) of the most recent contract. Below is a breakdown of the positional spending for the Steelers along with their rank at each position. Also included is the NFL average at each position OTC used.

Steelers’ Offensive Spending

Quarterback: $24,789,781

QB rank: 10

NFL Avg: $19,311,683

Running Back: $18,661,572

RB rank: 1

NFL Avg: $7,151,272

Wide Receiver: $20,850,417

WR rank: 13

NFL Avg: $19,544,910

O-line: $35,374,947

O-line rank: 6

NFL Avg: $30,748,874

Tight End: $7,752,228

TE rank: 18

NFL Avg: $8,153,829

Total: $107,428,945

Total Rank: 2

NFL Avg: $84,910,567

Total (w/o QB): $82,639,164

W/O QB rank: 2

NFL Avg: $65,598,885

Steelers’ Defensive Spending

Cornerback: $14,789,575

CB Rank: 20

NFL Avg: $16,470,437

Edge Rush: $7,143,782

Edge Rank: 31

NFL Avg: $17,957,852

Interior DL: $27,713,996

DL rank: 7

NFL Avg: $16,011,854

Linebacker: $8,387,564

LB rank: 25

NFL Avg: $13,070,528

Safety: $11,140,0751

Safety rank: 14

NFL Avg: $11,026,052

Total: $69,174,992

Total rank: 21

NFL Avg: $74,536,722

Until the Steelers hit more home runs in the draft, or land some high-priced free agents, the defense will continue to lag behind the offense in salary allocation. The 2017 Steelers’ defense finished seventh in points allowed and fifth in total yards. If the 2018 squad can come close to repeating those figures — they would be a massive bargain. On the flipside, Pittsburgh’s offense tallied the eighth-most points and were third in total yards.

Does the imbalance between offensive and defensive spending mean the Steelers’ offense will have to improve? Will the defense put up comparable numbers against healthy teams and keep their costly offense on the field while bringing some value of their own to the table? The answer to those questions might not be fully answered until after the clock reads all zeros on February 2, 2019.