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An updated look at the Steelers salary cap situation in 2020 and beyond

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The Steelers have managed to remain under the NFL salary cap while making various moves to bolster their 2020 roster

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Jacksonville Jaguars Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

It was only two weeks ago when the Pittsburgh Steelers had the worst salary cap number in the NFL and were patiently awaiting the results of the NFLPA’s vote on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. Once the vote passed on March 15, it has been a flurry of moves including restructures, releases, retirements, trades, and free-agent signings. After everything making all these moves, where do the Steelers currently stand when it comes to the 2020 salary cap?

First of all, the Steelers are no longer at the bottom of the list when it comes to salary cap space in the NFL according to overthecap.com. Even though they don’t have the most up-to-date numbers for the Steelers, OTC has five teams with less salary cap space than the Steelers. But do the the most up-to-date numbers change much? They do alittle.

According to OTC, The Steelers are currently $7,178,944 under the current NFL salary cap restrictions. Until teams have to trim their rosters after the fourth preseason game, the only salaries which count towards the team salary cap are the top 51 contacts. Come September, every player on the Steelers roster along with practice squad players will have to come under the $198,200,000 cap. For now, as long as the top 51 salaries remain under this number, the Steelers are salary-cap compliant.

One item which needs to be noted is there is one roster moves reported about the Steelers which has not come through financially to count towards the cap. OTC has not posted the salary of Chris Wormley to the Steelers. Wormley was due $2,133,000 from the Ravens for the 2020 season. Assuming his contract transfers and he does not work out another deal, the Steelers will have to account for the remaining salary. But adding Wormley’s current contract would move the bottom salary out of the top 51 which is $675,000. So the net gain from Wormley would add $1,458,000 to the Steelers top 51 salary. Once this number is added to the Steelers total, their current amount under the NFL salary cap is $5,720,944. As for the players from the XFL the Steelers have signed, it is unlikely their salary would displace anyone already in the top 51.

Even though the focus is on the Steelers 2020 season, it is worth peeking ahead to 2022 to see how much the Steelers are already spending. With 27 players under contract for the 2021 season, the Steelers already have a cap liability of $168,971,701. While this number does seem quite large, it is only about $3.5 million more than the top 27 currently for 2020 not including the Chris Wormley contract. It should also be noted that contracts for Cameron Heyward, Bud Dupree, T.J. Watt, James Conner, and JuJu Smith Schuster are not on the books for 2021 as of this time as they are entering the final year of their deals. The Steelers are expected to pick up the fifth-year option on T.J. Watt later this year.

Looking ahead to the 2022 season, it is actually quite interesting as the Steelers only have 10 players under contract. In looking at players not on rookie deals, the only players under contract to the 2020 season are Stephon Tuitt, Chris Boswell, and Derek Watt.

The Steelers currently have no players under contract for the 2023 season.

Even though the Steelers still need to sign their 2020 rookie draft class and will have to take into account the entire roster in September, there are still other moves which could be made between now and that time to free up some cap space. So if there is a low budget free agent out there which the Steelers would like to sign, or if they are looking to extend any of their players entering the final year of their deals, it is still in the realm of possibilities.