The Pittsburgh Steelers 2020 offseason has progressed appropriately since the beginning of the league year. With a new Collective Bargaining Agreement in place, the Steelers were able to restructure contracts, offer tenders, use the franchise tag, sign free agents, make their draft selections, and get their undrafted rookie free agents under contract. With a focus on getting their draftees under contract in the coming weeks, the Steelers will also be looking to sign some players to either a new contract or a contract extension.
While some of these new deals may not come until the summer, it’s not out of the question for player representatives and the Steelers to be working on something now. With that said, which Steelers going into the last year of the current deal are likely to be given a new contract before the 2020 season begins?
Rather than focus on all the players, let’s tackle one at a time. With each player, it will first be determined if they should receive a new deal along with how much would be a fair contract to both parties. This exercise is meant to just be fun and speculative as we all get to play general manager and salary cap guru for a day. The biggest question with the remaining players is if a contract would be better before this season or next offseason.
If you wish to give a basic contract answer without diving too deep into numbers, simply skip over the italicized section. If you are the kind of person who would like to see how the contract would affect the salary cap, here it is...
Coming up with an exact contract can be tricky. Rather than get into roster and work out bonuses or different amounts per season, we’re going to estimate the salaries as simply as possible. For whatever deal the player gets, the first year will have all but $1 million put into a signing bonus which will get spread over the life of the contract. For example, if a player were to sign a three-year contract for $10 million per year, the first year would have a $1 million base salary and a $9 million signing bonus. Therefore, the bonus would be spread out to $3 million over each season where the player would count $4 million dollars for 2020 and $13 million for the other two years.
One other factor which needs to be considered is if the player brings any dead money from the previous contract. To account for this in a simple manner, throw it into the salary cap hit for the first year of the players deal. Using the above example, if a player had $4 million in dead money on their last contract, the salary cap hit for their first year would be $8 million.
After looking at a deal for Cam Heyward as well as Bud Dupree, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and Alejandro Villanueva, now let’s see what kind of contract Steelers’ fans would like to work out with Matt Feiler rather than play the 2020 season on his restricted free agent tender.
Age: Will turn 28 in July
Years: 6, including practice squad
Previous Contract: $645,000 as an exclusive rights free agent
2020 salary cap hit: $3.295 million (2nd round tender)
Dead Money: None
Other top contracts average per year (AYP) at the right tackle position according to overthecap.com:
Lane Johnson: $18 million
Trent Brown: $16.5 million
Jack Conklin: $14 million
Ja’Wuan James: $12.75 million
Mitchell Schwartz: $11.255 million
Bryan Bulaga: $10 million
La’el Collins: $10 million
Feiler ranked 19th among all NFL tackles in 2019 regardless of which side they played according to Pro Football Focus. Here are the players under contract beyond their rookie deals who ranked closely to Feiler:
14. David Bakhtiari: $12 million
15. Bryan Bulaga: $10 million
16. Tyron Smith: $12.2 million
21. Laremy Tunsil: $22 million
22. Halapoulivaati Vaitai: $9 million
23. Duane Brown: $11.5 million
Notes: Since Feiler played right tackle last season, I did the comparison with the tackles. Although he could move back to guard in 2020, it’s up for debate whether that will be the case or not. The top seven contracts for left guards finishes up at the 10 million mark much like those of right tackle. The biggest question with Feiler would be the amount of the contract. While he was the highest-ranked lineman on the Steelers in 2019, perhaps waiting another year before possibly breaking the bank would be in the Steelers best interest.
So now it’s deal time! Perhaps the first question should be a completely different game show: Deal or no deal? Should the Steelers look to sign Matt Feiler to a long-term deal rather than play on his Restricted Free Agent contract? If so, what should the deal look like? Please leave your response with the number of years and the average salary per season in the comments below.
Next time on Let’s Make A Deal: James Conner.