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The Steelers 2021 NFL draft class will count minimally against the salary cap

If the Steelers make their eight selections where they are slated, the exact salary cap amount has already been determined.

NFL: APR 27 2018 NFL Draft Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Now that the NFL has announced all the slated draft picks for the 2021 NFL draft, teams now know how much money will be needed to sign their drafted players based on their contracts. Since rookie deals are pre-determined by the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the salary cap number for each player is determined based on the selection number in the draft.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are scheduled to have eight draft picks in 2021. The Steelers are set to have one draft pick in every round but the fifth round, and have additional draft picks in both the fourth and seventh round. Based on the exact number of where the Steelers are scheduled to make their selections, the Steelers will be paying out just over $8 million in salary to their eight draft picks.

But this $8 million is not how much contracts will count against the salary cap.

Of course, roster displacement comes into effect yet again when the Steelers sign their draft class. 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.

Throughout the offseason, I have been using a high estimate of $3.2 million for the Steelers 2021 draft class. At the time, not all the draft picks were set and I took into account the Steelers getting as many as three compensatory draft picks as they were on the edge for two of their selections. With the Steelers only getting one comp pick for 2021, and knowing all of their draft positions, the experts at have determined the Steelers 2021 draft class will count only an additional $2,754,553 against the salary cap after displacement.

But wait, there’s more!

The estimates done at OTC are based on a roster displacement of $660k for every player bumped out of the top 51. But the Steelers have already bumped all of their $660k salaries out of the top 51 and the next set of salaries which would get pushed down are sitting at $780k. With this being the case, the last three draft picks by the Steelers would not even land in the top 51 salaries at this time.

Taking those bottom three salaries out of the equation, and adjusting for a higher salary coming out of the top 51, the Steelers could have their 2021 draft class count as little as $2,074,116 on the salary cap after displacement.

If the Steelers decide to trade any of their draft picks in the 2021 NFL draft, whether moving up or moving back, it will obviously affect this number somewhat. But when looking at the Steelers salary cap moving forward, a very safe estimate for signing their draft class for 2021 would be $2.75 million with the possibility of it being even lower.

I don’t know about you, but seeing this number coming in lower than expected is another welcome site as the Steelers are dealing with the reduced salary cap number for the 2021 season.