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Updating the Steelers’ salary cap situation following the signing of Josh Dobbs

With all 75 players having their contracts reported, the Steelers salary cap situation is pretty cut and dry before the NFL draft.

Pittsburgh Steelers v Cleveland Browns Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers are up to 75 players on their offseason roster heading into the 2021 NFL draft. With salary information coming in on quarterback Josh Dobbs courtesy of overthecap.com, an accurate projection of the Steelers current salary cap situation does not have to take into account any outstanding contracts.

Before getting to Dobbs deal, it’s quite interesting that the Steelers are starting to get some players falling outside of their top 51 contracts who will likely make the 53-man roster in September. A bigger explanation of this will come after the numbers.

As for Dobbs, his contract is reportedly for a $990k in base salary and $50k in signing bonus. Because the initial salary counts under the veteran salary benefit, it gets knocked down to $850k against the cap, plus the signing bonus, where Dobbs counts $900k towards the salary cap.

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: Reported $900,000; After displacement: -$0.12 million

Approximate salary cap space: Approximately $11.06 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 $10,271,586 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 $11,063,203 under the cap. Since this is also the number I have calculated, I believe spotrac.com has the more reliable salary cap figure for the Steelers.

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. Based on the salaries that are just above the top 51 cutoff, only the top three of the Steelers draft picks (assuming they pick when they are supposed to) will actually be in the top 51 and will only count less than $2 million on the salary cap. Also remember, the Steelers won’t need this amount until at least May whenever the negotiated contracts become official.

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.

An additional factor to keep down the money needed in September is any player not in the top 51 who makes the team will save the Steelers the difference in salary of the player in the top 51 who is cut. Right now players such as Henry Mondeaux, Antoine Brooks, and Kevin Rader are not in the top 51 according to OTC. After signing their 2021 draft picks, James Pierre, J.C. Hassenauer, and Carlos Davis, along with all of the Steelers’ Day 3 draft picks and undrafted free agents, will be outside the top 51 as well.

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 following the draft as the Steelers have more they can do to shape their 2021 roster.