The other day I was perusing Twitter, one thing I rarely do, and I ran across a tweet by Over the Cap which hit me really hard. It was a chart diagram with every NFL team on it. Team’s positions are based upon a combination of cap space along with draft capital. While I knew about the Pittsburgh Steelers cap situation, I had paid little attention to the draft. (Silly since I will be in attendance for all three days.) I sure did not think about the two being paired together compared to the rest of the NFL.
I have been sounding the alarm bells over the Pittsburgh Steelers salary cap situation for sometime now. There is no disputing the mess the cap is in ($1.4 million in the black), what is in dispute is how to fix it.
Let’s toss that aside for the moment and focus on our draft capital. The Miami Dolphins traded Minkah Fitzpatrick along with a 2020 fourth-round pick (Looked at a number of sources that contradict each other on where the pick will be. Either No. 108 or No. 132.) and a 2021 seventh-round pick, in exchange for a first and fifth round pick in 2020, and 2021 sixth-round pick, during the 2019 season. So far, that has been a barn burner of a move and Steeler Nation hopes that continues for years to come. (This is not figured into the chart but even if was, the Steelers would still be solidly in the bottom half.)
The Steelers will have pick No. 49 in the second round, pick No. 102 (The pick is the second to last in the third round for compensation for losing Le’Veon Bell.), sixth round pick No. 179, and seventh round pick No. 210.
Round 1 pick No. 18 traded to Miami
Round 2 pick No. 49
Round 3 pick No. 83 traded to Denver
Round 3 pick No. 102 Bell compensation
Round 4 pick No. 108 or No. 132 from Miami
Round 4, Pick No. 121
Round 5 pick No. 137 from Jacksonville for Joshua Dobbs traded to Seattle for Nick Vannett
Round 5 pick No. 145 traded to Miami
Round 6 pick No. 179
Round 7 pick No. 210
One pick in the first 101 picks means loads of young talent have already come off the board before the team picks again. To put this in further perspective, no team has less draft capital than the Steelers in the first three rounds. The San Francisco 49ers have only one selection in the first three rounds, but it is pick No. 31 while three teams have multiple first rounders.
To give this further perspective, here are the other AFC North teams.
Baltimore Ravens: $31.4 million under the cap with picks #28, #60, #92, #126, #131, #136, #145, #173, and #225. (Yup, that is four picks in the fourth round.)
Cincinnati Bengals: $44.8 million under the cap (More when they move on from Andy Dalton.) with picks #1, #33, #65, #104, #147, #180, and #215.
Cleveland Browns: $50.7 million under the cap with picks #10, #41, #74, #101, #112, #224, and #236.
The Steelers have to restructure current contracts, cut players, or both, to sign their draft class, let alone the 52nd and 53rd players (they do not count in the offseason because of the Rule of 51) and the team’s practice squad. Each player the team cuts opens up cap space but leaves a void that has to be filled. How will those voids get filled? Will they get filled via inexpensive free agents or possibly late round draft picks? A storm is brewing and general manager Kevin Colbert is at the center for the next couple of months.
Draft Cost vs Cap Space— Jason_OTC (@Jason_OTC) February 14, 2020
Top right: Should be active in FA and have a good draft class
Bottom right: Probably needs to rely on the draft
Top left: Probably needs to rely on free agency more than draft
Bottom left: Hardest path to improve. Cap likely devoted to draft picks. pic.twitter.com/QS3rUio6pN