The Pittsburgh Steelers have moved into the part of the offseason where it is necessary to rework players contracts in order to be compliant with the 2021 salary cap at 4 PM on March 17. The Steelers have already restructured Cameron Heyward’s contract and saved a little over $7 million towards 2021. With a contract extension looming with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in order to reduce his $41.25 million salary cap hit, the Steelers are moving in the proper direction in regards to the salary cap.
But what other options do the Steelers have moving forward rather than just releasing players in order to save more money towards the 2021 salary cap?
Of course, one option is to extend players going into the last year of their contract in order to lower their salary cap hit this season and lock them into more years with the team. While there should be a number of these moves coming, predicting exactly which ones and what value the Steelers will have is a little more difficult.
The team also has several other players they could restructure for 2021. The next obvious choice is Stephon Tuitt, but with his salary being under the old Collective Bargaining Agreement it could be a little tricky until the NFL announces if they will be playing an extra regular season game this season.
One other player who has more than one year left on his contract and is operating under the current CBA is fullback Derek Watt. What would a restructure look like for Watt’s contract and how would that affect his numbers the following season?
For the 2021 season, Derek Watt i set to count $3,833,333 against the salary cap which is one dollar less than what he is set to count in 2022. With a base salary of $1.75 million, Watt also has a $1 million roster bonus due to him on March 22.
Should Watt convert all of his salary except the league minimum into a signing bonus, he would have $1.76 million as a signing bonus with a $990k base salary based on his years in the league. By doing so, the Steelers would save $880k on the 2021 salary cap and push that amount into 2022.
The downfall of doing the restructure with Watt is it would increase his salary cap number in 2022 to $4,713,334. In doing so, it would put his dead money hit close to $2 million next season.
While some might want the Steelers to cut ties with Watt this season and save the $2.75 million towards the salary cap, the fact he was injured throughout training camp and was not really utilized by the Steelers in 2020 has some intrigued to see if Watt would find more of a role under new offensive coordinator Matt Canada.
If the Steelers know they are going to be keeping Derek Watt through the end of his contract, it wouldn’t hurt to do the restructure. The problem is, saving less than $1 million at this time doesn’t really do that much to help the Steelers with their current situation. While they could wait to do a restructure at a later time if it appears they will need every dollar towards the salary cap they can gain, once March 20 passes and Watt receives his $1 million roster bonus it cannot be converted into the signing bonus. So if the Steelers are going to do this restructure, look forward to becoming in the next several weeks.
So what do you think? Should the Steelers restructure Derek Watt’s contract for 2021? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.