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What happened to the cap savings from Le’Veon Bell’s 2018 unused salary?

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Everyone loves talking about the $14.5 million dollar savings heading into 2019, but where did it go?

Pittsburgh Steelers v Chicago Bears Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Le’Veon Bell opted not to play in 2018 due to the Pittsburgh Steelers placed the franchise tag on him a second year in a row. When the Steelers tagged the three-time Pro Bowler, the price tag of the franchise tag immediately counted towards the salary cap. Since Bell did not play in this past season, he did not collect his salary and Pittsburgh then carries the $14.5 million over to the new league year. (The new league year does not start until March 13.)

Where did the $14.5 million go if according to Over the Cap, Pittsburgh only has $20.7 million in cap space for 2019?

Do not lose your collective marbles BTSC readers, there is at least $7 million tied up in players who have a long-shot at making the 2019 53-man roster.

(OTC has accounted for all carryover money ($18.25 million) and the NFL increasing the salary cap by $10 million in its $20.7 million figure.)

A quick glance back at the restructures in 2018 that financed the team in 2018 is the starting point of following the money trail.

Cameron Heyward: $8 million with $2.7 million pushed into 2019.

Alejandro Villanueva: $3.5 million with $1.8 million pushed into 2019.

Stephon Tuitt: $10.2 million with $2 million pushed into 2019.

David DeCastro: $6.8 million with $1.7 million pushed into 2019.

Antonio Brown: $9.7 million with $3.2 million pushed into 2019.

Total $37.2 million and $11.4 million pushed into 2019.

The massive restructures in 2018 impacted 2019 but the impact when you look at the $187.4 million total cap for Pittsburgh, is minimal. So why are the Steelers not awash in cap space in 2019? Simply put, some players received hefty raises.

Brown

2018 salary: $8 million

2019 salary: $22.2 million

Heyward

2018 salary: $7.1 million

2019 salary: $14.9 million

Tuitt

2018 salary: $5.4 million

2019 salary: $13.6 million

DeCastro

2018 salary: $5.7 million

2019 salary: $12 million

Bud Dupree

2018 salary: $2.9 million

2019 salary: $9.2 million

Villanueva

2018 salary: $4.1 million

2019 salary: $8.4 million

Vince Williams

2018 salary: $3.2 million

2019 salary: $6.7 million

These seven player’s cap changed $50.6 million from 2018 to 2019, and the money from Bell’s unspent cap savings is long gone. When subtracting out 2018 restructures, $39.2 million in new salary cap allocation hits the 2019 books.

In the next seven weeks, the Steelers will look to re-sign a yet unknown number of their 24 mix of unrestricted, restricted and exclusive rights free agents. Any resigning will have an immediate impact on Pittsburgh’s tenuous cap situation. Is another massive wave on restructures on the horizon? Or will they even be needed?

Stay informed with BTSC to find out the answer to the above questions as a more detailed salary cap analysis will be forthcoming.