On Tuesday morning, Field Yates of ESPN reported the Steelers converted a large portion of Cameron Heyward’s contract into a signing bonus, freeing up valuable salary cap space.
Source: the Steelers converted $8.085M of DE Cam Heyward's $9M base salary into a signing bonus, creating $5.39M in 2018 cap space. Some cap wiggle room.— Field Yates (@FieldYates) September 4, 2018
Combine that with some money saved after roster cuts on Saturday, and the Steelers now have some ‘wiggle room’, as Yates put it.
But why create the cap space with no intentions of doing anything with it?
Well, the team might be thinking about making a roster move to the team prior to Week 1.
When asked if Mike Tomlin was comfortable with his outside linebacker depth heading into Week 1, he said he was. When asked if the Steelers could still make a roster move, he grinned and said he wouldn’t reveal his plan.
Tomlin said he is "comfortable with the OLB depth despite having one backup. He smiled when asked if the Steelers could make a move before Sunday.— Joe Rutter (@tribjoerutter) September 4, 2018
The Steelers have options at outside linebacker, now that Ola Adeniyi is on the Injured Reserve list. With Adeniyi protected, they could promote Keion Adams from the practice squad to the 53-man roster, but would have to cut someone to make room.
The other option would be for them to find a pass rusher who was released by another NFL team with the intention of them coming in and knowing just enough to get by with the simple instructions of rushing the passer.
Will the team make a move? They have created the salary cap space for it, but whether they pull the trigger on a deal has yet to be seen. Regardless, the reality of the current situation is the team is about to start their preparation for the Cleveland Browns in Week 1 with the following depth chart:
Throw in the fact Watt played zero snaps during the preseason while nursing a hamstring injury, and you have the feeling the team will have to do something to aid their outside linebackers. Unless they feel a player like Matthew Thomas, who did play the outside linebacker position at times during the preseason, is good enough to be their fourth outside linebacker if necessary.
In the words of Tomlin, the Steelers are “keeping the light on” for a potential move, and that means you should keep your eyes glued to BTSC as we keep you up-to-date on the latest and greatest surrounding the Pittsburgh Steelers.