The Pittsburgh Steelers have been very busy conducting business this week as they negotiate their salaries in order to get under the NFL salary cap. After using almost $16 million to use the franchise tag on Bud Dupree and since they were already about $3 million over the cap, the Steelers cleared about $15 million by releasing Anthony Chickillo, Mark Barron, and Johnny Holton along with the retirement of Ramon Foster. In order for the Steelers to finish getting under the salary cap along with having the opportunity to offer any restricted free agent tenders, more moves needed to be made.
The first step in the process for the Steelers was to restructure several contracts. Looking at what was reported in chronological order, the first restructure was by Vance McDonald.
Source: #Steelers are restructuring deals in order to create salary cap space.— Adam Caplan (@caplannfl) March 16, 2020
Latest is TE Vance McDonald. He agreed to convert his $5.5m base salary to signing bonus.
If the number reported is correct, The savings on McDonald’s contract would come to about $2.75 million since he has two years remaining left on his contract. The exact savings is unclear as other sources had reported a savings of $2.3 million.
The next report came of a restructured contract for kicker Chris Boswell.
Another #Steelers player agreed to restructure his contract to help team create cap space: K Chris Boswell, source said.— Adam Caplan (@caplannfl) March 17, 2020
No numbers were reported in Boswell‘s restructure, but the most the Steelers could convert to a signing bonus would be about $1.5 million. With three years remaining on Boswell‘s contract, it would be a cap savings of $1 million if this was what the Steelers were able to do.
The other reported restructure for the Steelers came courtesy of Joe Haden.
The Steelers restructured the contract of CB Joe Haden, guaranteeing him his salary in order to create cap space, per source. Money management in Pittsburgh.— Field Yates (@FieldYates) March 17, 2020
With numbers still not being reported, a decent estimate for the amount of salary converted into a signing bonus for Hayden would be about $6 million. With two years remaining on his contract, this would be a savings of about $3 million toward the 2020 salary cap.
When totaling the three restructures the Steelers made on Monday, they have added another $6 million in salary cap savings.
The Steelers cleared just over $15 million in cap space by releasing Chickillo, Holton and Barron and with Ramon Foster's retirement. Then cleared an additional $6 million with three restructures. #Steelers #dkps— Dale Lolley (@dlolley_pgh) March 17, 2020
While the amount from the restructures could be around $6.5 million, estimating $6 million may be a safe bet for the time being. In all, the Steelers saved $21 million in cap space. Unfortunately, the Steelers still have a ways to go as the team has until 4 PM on Wednesday to offer a tender to any of their five restricted free agents. At this time, the most the Steelers could possibly offer would be one original round tender. With players such as Matt Feiler, Mike Hilton, and Zach Banner all possibly receiving a tender, the Steelers still have work to do in order to stay under the salary cap for the beginning of the 2020 league year.
UPDATE: The Steelers have restructured two more contracts according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Gerry Dulac.
Steelers have restructured the contract of Ben Roethlisberger to create extra cap space. Fifth player to do so along with tight end Vance McDonald, cornerbacks Joe Haden and Steve Nelson and kicker Chris Boswell.— Gerry Dulac (@gerrydulac) March 17, 2020
The numbers behind both of these restructures are very interesting. Because both players are only under contract through 2021, every salary cap dollar pushed off from this year goes directly to next season. With Nelson, the Steelers could save upwards of $4 million but it would make for a salary cap number of nearly $15 million in 2020. But with him being a prime candidate to get a contract extension going into the last year of his contract, that number could be more manageable in a year from now.
As for Ben Roethlisberger, pushing every dollar for this year to next year gets tricky as many believe he is on his final contract of his NFL career. The Steelers could look to convert as much as $20 million into a signing bonus which could give them $10 million of salary cap space, but it would put Roethlisberger‘s cap hit in 2021 over $40 million. Most likely the Steelers were not that ambitious. If any financials become available in the Roethlisberger restructure, they will be updated here.
UPDATE: Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports the Steelers have saved $20 million in restructures. With just over $6 million saved on the first three players reported, it means the Steelers will have reportedly saved around $4 million from Nelson and $10 million from Roethlisberger.