As is often the way, the Pittsburgh Steelers are short on available salary cap space with the start of the regular season drawing near, but if a report by Adam Schefter of ESPN is to be believed, the team might have made a move to address the issue on Tuesday.
According to Schefter, the front office has apparently opted to restructure the contract of tight end Vance McDonald, creating over $2 million in additional salary cap space.
Steelers are freeing up over $2 million in salary-cap space by converting about $3 million of TE Vance McDonald’s base salary into signing bonus for this season, per league source. More flexibility for Steelers.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 28, 2018
Originally set to earn a base salary of $3.7 million in 2018, the most the Steelers would be allowed to restructure of McDonald’s contract this year would be $2.91 million. Assuming the team have opted for the maximum restructure available, the move will have saved Pittsburgh $2,182,500. It will also have added $727,500 to each of the remaining years of his deal and have left him with a cap hit of $2,316,250 this season.
For anyone hoping that McDonald would be a surprise release before the start of the regular season, this move effectively ends that dream. However, it does not necessarily guarantee him a job with the team in 2019. Even with this restructure, cutting McDonald before next year would save the team $3.645 million and create $2,182,500 in dead money.
As always, it is important to note that a restructure is not a reduction in salary for the player concerned, rather a change to the way his salary is paid. The player still earns exactly the same amount he was originally set to receive and the move is merely a financial procedure that defers a debt into future seasons for accounting purposes.
Prior to this restructure, Pittsburgh was $3,266,053 under the cap according to the NFLPA public salary cap report as of Monday. A number that does not include the recent extension for Chris Boswell. With the cost of the practice squad and numbers 52 and 53 on the roster still to be accounted for come Opening Day, the extra cap space the Steelers have created will be used to cover any impending costs and to provide the buffer the team likes to carry for emergencies during the regular season.