As contract numbers come in, it is my job here at Behind The Steel Curtain to bring you the most up-to-date salary cap number I can give. After waiting patiently for almost a week, reports have finally surfaced for Vince Williams’ one-year deal with the Steelers. This per Mark Kaboly of The Athletic.
*$4M. $7M was cap hit. Still, that’s a guy who is playing for love of the game and not the money.— Mark Kaboly (@MarkKaboly) April 20, 2021
As you can see, Kaboly had to correct his original tweet to reflect Vince Williams’ salary instead of his cap hit. The Steelers were able to take $4 million off the books in March when they released Vince Williams, but it ultimately only saved them $3.34 million because of roster displacement. By signing Williams back, they displacement pretty much goes away although now Williams is bumping a player who has a higher salary than what took his place in March.
What is much more important is Vince Williams’ salary for this year is the league minimum for someone with his years of service. While Williams is set to make $1.075 million for 2021, he will not count this much towards the salary cap according to overthecap.com. Because Williams qualifies asa veteran salary benefit, he will only count $850k against the 2021 salary cap. After roster displacement, this only lowers the Steelers salary cap by $70k.
In essence, although Williams will still count the more than $3 million in dead money from his previous contract, his new contract saves the Steelers over $3 million for 2021.
As for other players signed since the last salary cap update, OTC has the contracts for Jamir Jones and T.J. Carter as only for $660k each and they do not fall in the top 51. Abdullah Anderson has a contract of $780k which doesn’t fall in the top 51 as well. The only contract currently missing from the books for the Steelers is the exact financials for Joshua Dobbs.
Now 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. With the last update, the Steelers displaced the last $660k salary and have now moved into the $780k group, meaning displacement amounts will be slightly lower.
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: Reported $987,500; After displacement: -$0.3275 million
Steven Nelson: Saved $8.25 million salary; After displacement: +$7.59 million
Cassius Marsh: Reported $950,000; After displacement: -$0.17 million
Eric Ebron: Reportedly saved $3.904; No roster displacement: +$3.904 million
Tyson Alualu: Reported $2.0375 million; After displacement: -$1.2575 million
Jordan Berry: Reported $950,000; After displacement: -$0.17 million
Kalen Ballage: Reported $920,000; After displacement: -$0.14 million
Rashaard Coward: Reported $850,000; After displacement: -$0.07 million
Matthew Sexton: Reported $660k; not in the top 51: -$0
Jarvis Miller: Reported $660k; not in the top 51: -$0
Jamir Jones: Reported $660k; not in the top 51: -$0
T.J. Carter: Reported $660k; not in the top 51: -$0
Abdullah Anderson: Reported $780k; not in the top 51: -$0
Vince Williams: Reported $850,000; After displacement: -$0.07 million
Joshua Dobbs: No report
Approximate salary cap space: Approximately $11.2 million
Note: Miles Killebrew was the final contract displace a $660k salary. From Cassius Marsh on, the displacement is a $780k salary.
So where does this number compare to those reported by the major salary cap websites?
According to overthecap.com, the Steelers are $10,391,586 under the salary cap. OTC has all of the above contracts on the books. 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 $11,253,203 under the cap. Spotrac does not have contract numbers for Vince Williams. Once taking Williams contract into account, their number would $11,183,203 which rounds to my $11.2 million estimate (I have $11.186 million). Based on this, I believe spotrac.com has the more reliable salary cap figure for the Steelers once they get all the contracts entered.
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 no more than $2.75 million in cap space once figuring roster displacement. Now that the salaries being displaced are $780k, the amount needed looks to be closer to $2.07 million. 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 (a very high estimate, with $7 million coming in on the low end) 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. With this in mind, the Steelers have a a couple million dollars to use and could still have enough space come September, and that is without doing any extensions or restructures.
So the Steelers now have a lot more breathing room under the salary cap, at least for now. Other moves could still be on the horizon as the Steelers have more they can do to shape their 2021 roster. If the Steelers do add any veteran players, it may not be until after the 2021 NFL draft.