clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

How the Steelers were able to create $15 million in cap space with Ben Roethlisberger’s new deal

The Pittsburgh Steelers were able to create a ton of cap space with Ben Roethlisberger’s new contract. Here is how they did it.

Washington Football Team v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger have come to an agreement on a new contract for the 2021 season. While the exact numbers of the deal have not been officially released by the team, there are several reports which give an indication as to what Steelers did with the contract and how is going to help them with a 2021 salary cap.

First is the report of Ben Roethlisberger’s deal being for one year and $14 million per Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.

Right away, there’s a savings of $5 million towards the 2021 salary cap as Roethlisberger was set to make $19 million this coming season. But there is also report by ESPN’s Adam Schefter that the Steelers have saved $15 million on the salary cap with the new deal.

So how does a $5 million savings turn into a $15 million savings? First, the deal has to be more than for the 2021 season. While Schefter said money was spread through 2022, it has to be more than this even if the contract has void years. According to NFL Networks Tom Pelissero, it appears this is the case.

Notice Pelissero said void “years” to get to $15 million saved.

So what does the contract have to look like in order for the Steelers to save $15 million?

Since $5 million came right off the top with Roethlisberger taking a pay cut, there needs to be another $10 million reduced for the 2021 season. Since it appears Roethlisberger will be having a league minimum base salary of $1.075 million in 2021, it means the remaining $12.925 million would be a signing bonus.

If the Steelers only added on one more year to Roethlisberger contract, whether a void year or not, it would only cut his salary cap hits down about $6.5 million. So this won’t be enough.

If the Steelers added on another two years, this would drop the cap savings to about $8.6 million. So it’s still not enough.

If the Steelers added three more years to Roethlisberger‘s contract, whether they were all void years or not, it would then knock down the roster bonus to save $9,693,750. Adding on the $5 million pay cut Roethlisberger took, it appears that this value of $14,693,750 would be close to the range of what has been reported.

But is this enough? What if the Steelers went all out and did four more years, most likely all void years, on Roethlisberger‘s contract? This would save the Steelers $10.34 million on the salary cap. Adding this to his $5 million he took in a pay cut, the Steelers have gone over the $15 million threshold at $15.34 million saved.

If the Steelers added on four voided years to Roethlisberger contract, even though the signing bonus is spread across those years, it would come due the first year Roethlisberger is not on the Steelers. So if this is truly Ben’s last season, the $10.34 million saved on the salary cap would all come due on the 2022 salary cap.

While having this money be on the books for 2022 if Roethlisberger is no longer with the team is not ideal, it is much better than the $22.25 million the Steelers would have faced this year had Roethlisberger called it a career.

So do these numbers make sense? According to NFL Network’s Ian Rappaport they seem to line up perfectly…

Is this exactly how Roethlisberger‘s contract is structured? We won’t know for sure until the exact numbers are released. But in order for the reports to be true, this is approximately what the Steelers would have had to do to work out a deal in order to save $15 million on the 2021 salary cap.

There will be additional specifics written into Roethlisberger’s contract to sure up any of the loose ends about the exact numbers. It’s assumed the added years are of the voided variety based on reports, but they don’t all necessarily have to be. But until those specifics are released, this estimation seems to be the same way to go in looking at the financials of Roethlisberger’s new deal.