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5 ways the Steelers could spend their new $3.9 million in cap space, and 5 ways they won’t

With a jump to almost $5 million, the Steelers now have some salary cap room in order to make a move.

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at Pittsburgh Steelers Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

With the restructure of Stephon Tuitt’s contract for the 2019 season on Tuesday, the Steelers added $3.9 million to the nearly $1.1 million they had in salary cap space this year. In converting the majority of Tuitt’s 2019 salary to a signing bonus, the Steelers can spread the cap hit of his nearly $5.2 million bonus over the remaining four years of his contract. Just to be clear, Tuitt did not take a pay cut. His salary is now just being paid upfront to help manage the salary cap.

But what will the Steelers do with this new cap space?

What they won’t do:


There is no benefit to restructuring a player’s contract to just have the salary cap savings sit and do nothing. The money the Steelers are saving in cap space now comes out equally over the following three years. If the Steelers aren’t going to use the savings now, they would have been better off not deferring the cap hit to a later date.

Extend Joe Haden

Although either an extension or new contract his very likely for Joe Haden before the start of the 2019 season, the savings the Steelers gained on Tuesday will not go toward Haden’s contract. The reason the money won’t be used for Haden is because a new deal would most likely lower his cap hit for 2019. The Steelers simply don’t need any cap space if Haden is getting re-signed.

Extend Bud Dupree

A new contract for Bud Dupree falls under the same category as Joe Haden in that a contract extension would likely lower his 2019 cap hit. Additionally, Dupree has stated he wants to play out the last year of his contract this season. There is really no deal that would benefit both the Steelers and Dupree at this point, so I don’t see anything getting done this year.

Extend Mike Hilton

The chance to sign Mike Hilton to a long-term deal expired when he had to sign his ERFA (Exclusive Rights Free Agent) contract at the start of camp in order to participate in team activities. If the two sides want to work out a deal in the future, they must wait until the 2019 season is over.

Uncharacteristically extend a current player

It’s the Steelers policy that they don’t renegotiate a player’s contract until there is one year or less remaining, unless the player is a quarterback. Although both James Conner and JuJu Smith-Schuster will have one year left on their rookie deals next season, it’s too early for the Steelers to extend either one of them.

What they could do:

Sign a current free agent

There are players still available at various positions who currently are not in any team’s training camp. With depth possibly needed at a variety of positions (tight end, safety, and outside linebacker to name a few), the Steelers could go looking for those answers now.

Sign a player once they are released after final cuts

The other possibility for signing a new player is to wait until all roster cuts have been made on Saturday August 31 by 4 P.M. eastern. Rather than wait until the last minute to free up funds, the Steelers could just be looking ahead to the end of the preseason.

Extend Javon Hargrave

Entering the final year of his rookie contract, Javon Hargrave had a fantastic 2018 season despite playing less than half of the snaps on defense. With 6.5 sacks, Hargrave was second on the team’s defensive line only behind Cam Heyward’s 8.0 in 2018. Showing improvement every season, Hargrave would be a great player for the Steelers to lock in long term.

Extend Sean Davis

Much like Javon Hargrave, Sean Davis is entering his fourth season and is a player the Steelers could extend with one year remaining on his rookie deal. With quality depth at safety still in question, Davis could extend his contract if the two sides can come to an agreement.

Something we don’t expect

It is not beyond the realm of possibilities for the Steelers to make a move we are not expecting. Perhaps the Steelers want to sign Artie Burns beyond 2019 even though they declined his fifth-year option. Maybe they are higher on Tyler Matakevich than what we believe and want to keep him around longer. Or maybe the the Steelers just wanted a little breathing room to sign practice squad players the first of September and are willing to pay more than the standard rate. These ideas are long shots, but you never know who the team may value when they are behind closed doors.

So what are the Steelers going to do with the cap space they just saved? Make sure you vote in the poll below and comment if there is another possibility which may have been overlooked.


What will the Steelers do with their new cap space?

This poll is closed

  • 19%
    Sign a current free agent
    (535 votes)
  • 31%
    Sign a player once they are released after final cuts
    (873 votes)
  • 31%
    Extend Javon Hargrave
    (883 votes)
  • 3%
    Extend Sean Davis
    (96 votes)
  • 14%
    Something we don’t expect
    (390 votes)
2777 votes total Vote Now