With the Steelers making a number free-agent moves now that the 2021 NFL league year has kicked off, their salary cap situation has been changing constantly. With more signings happening over the weekend and the numbers coming in on Monday, it’s time to see where the Steelers are yet again in regards to the salary cap.
First, there has been a report at overthecap.com as to B.J. Finney’s one-year deal. According to OTC, Finney will count $987,500 towards the 2021 salary cap. After roster displacement, Finney takes off a little more than $300k from the available cap space.
Of the two signings that Steelers made on Saturday, Miles Killebrew and Jo Haeg, only the numbers from Haeg have been made available at this time. Although the deal was for two years and $4.6 million, Haeg has a $1 million base salary this season along with a $1 million signing bonus. This means Haeg’s salary cap number for 2021 is $1.5 million with next year being $3.1 million. After roster displacement, Haeg adds $140k onto the Steelers 2021 salary cap.
The Steelers also made another low-profile signing Friday morning when they signed wide receiver Tyler Simmons after seeing him catch passes at George’s pro day. Simmons spent several weeks on the Texans practice squad in 2020. Based on this, the numbers that have been reported have Simmons’ contract not in the top 51 for Steelers.
So after the moves this past weekend, where do the Steelers currently stand with the 2021 salary cap? Before free agency kicked off, the Steelers were little more than $6 million under the salary cap. Since then, the number has fluctuated due to various moves.
To determine how much each player changes the Steelers’ salary cap space, their cap number must be adjusted due to roster displacement. As a reminder, roster displacement is taking into account only the top 51 contracts for a team count towards the salary cap during the offseason. As a larger contract comes on the books, it bumps a smaller contract out of the top 51. Therefore, it’s only the difference in those contracts that increases the salary cap number.
Here is the approximate breakdown of the Steelers salary cap space based on their recent moves by my own calculations. The numbers are strictly the salary cap hit for each player in 2021.
Steelers salary cap space heading into free agency: Approximately $6 million
Ray-Ray McCloud: Reported $1 million salary; After displacement: -$0.34 million
B.J. Finney: Reported $987,500; After displacement: -$0.3275 million
Cam Sutton: New report of $1.7 million; After displacement: -$1.04 million
Zach Banner: Reported $2.875 million; After displacement: -$2.215 million
Vince Williams: Saved $4 million salary; After displacement: +$3.34 million
Chris Wormley: Reported $1.6 million; After displacement: -$0.94 million
JuJu Smith-Schuster: Reported $2.4 million; After displacement: -$1.74 million
Tyler Simmons: Reported $660k; not in the top 51: -$0
Joe Haeg: Reported $1.5 million; After displacement: -$0.84 million
Miles Killebrew: No definitive report
Approximate salary cap space: Approximately $1.9 million
So where does this number compare to those reported by the major salary cap websites?
According to overthecap.com, the Steelers are $1,102,586 under the salary cap. OTC has all of the above contracts on the books, but for some reason they have the number lower than it should be. Even when adding up the Steelers’ top 51 salaries and dead money owed this year, their own numbers don’t make sense to come in where they are.
Another credible salary cap website is spotrac.com, which has the Steelers at $2,491,703 under the cap. Spotrac does not have either McCloud’s or Finney’s contracts, hence why their number is a little higher.
The one contract still missing is Miles Killebrew, which is estimated to be a veteran minimum deal. Since the last salary in the top 51 for the Steelers is now at $780,000, the roster displacement price should be very minimal.
While the Steelers are going to need cap space for a number of things this offseason, it doesn’t have to be at this time. Following the NFL draft, the Steelers will begin signing their draft picks and are estimated to need $3.2 million in cap space once figuring roster displacement. But remember, the Steelers won’t need this amount until at least May. Also, the Steelers will need as much as an additional $10 million come September when they need to account for all 53 players on the roster, sign their practice squad, and have some carryover in order to do business throughout the year.
So the Steelers managed to add several more players and not had to immediately make a corresponding move to stay under the salary cap. Other moves will be on the horizon as the Steelers need to have less than $2 million available to make any more significant deals.