With the selection of Michigan linebacker Devin Bush in the first-round of the 2019 NFL Draft, it effectively signaled the end of Jon Bostic’s time as a starter for the Pittsburgh Steelers. By Saturday night he was no longer a part of the team.
In something of a premature move, the Steelers opted to part ways with the linebacker they had signed as a free agent in 2018, clearing a path for Bush to become the undisputed starter come opening day. And while some might argue that keeping Bostic as a valuable backup with veteran experience to sit behind the untested rookie might have been a good idea, it would appear that Pittsburgh put a higher priority on the salary cap savings that would accompany his release over his talent.
Originally set to earn a base salary of $1.8 million in 2019 as part of a total salary cap cost of $2.5 million that included a prorated signing bonus amount of $700,000, the Steelers will now see that base salary return to the cap as additional space and will absorb the prorated bonus figure as dead money this season. Signed to a two-year deal worth $4 million that included a $1.4 million signing bonus in 2018, Bostic only ever saw just over half of that amount, receiving a total $2.2 million from Pittsburgh in last year.
For a team that was only $3,201,131 under the cap before the draft started as result of the extension given to Ben Roethlisberger last week, as per the NFLPA public salary cap report, an additional $1.8 million is rather significant. Faced with signing a draft class projected to cost in the region of $3 million after displacement, Pittsburgh will need every cent they can find this offseason to cover some of the other costs they will need to account for later in the year.
And given that the Steelers will want to create a cushion of around $3.5 million to carry into the regular season, fans should expected to see one of two more moves in the coming months, with restructures the tool the team will most likely use to create the additional cap space they require.