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Updating the Steelers’ salary cap situation with all players currently under contract

With reports available on every signing the Steelers have made in 2021, where do they stand in regards to the 2021 salary cap?

Pittsburgh Steelers v Buffalo Bills Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images

By combining multiple sources, the contracts for every player currently signed by the Steelers can be determined at this time. Since it has been a while since every new contract has been reported, it’s a great time to update where the Steelers stand with the 2021 salary cap.

Even though Tyson Alualu’s contract has not gone on the books at the major salary cap sites, it was reported by NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero.

Assuming Pelissero’s report is correct, this means Alualu has a $1.075 million base salary for 2021 and a $1.925 million signing bonus. This leaves $2.5 million as a base salary for 2022. If this is indeed the case, Alualu’s cap hit for 2021 would be $2.0375 million and would cost $1.2575 against the cap after displacement.

Another contract which has been reported by overthecap.com is offensive lineman Rashaard Coward. According to OTC, Coward will be paid $990k for 2021 but will only count as $850k toward the cap due to the veteran salary benefit. It is an identical contract to running back Trey Edmunds. After factoring in roster displacement, Coward only adds $70k toward the Steelers current salary cap.

As expected, OTC has the contracts for Matthew Sexton and Jarvis Miller are only for $660k each and do not fall in the top 51.

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

Approximate salary cap space: Approximately $11.25 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 $11,719,086 under the salary cap. OTC has all of the above contracts on the books except for Tyson Alualu. 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 $9,174,203 under the cap. Spotrac does not have contract numbers for McCloud, Finney, Billage, Coward, Alualu and Ebron. With Ebron’s savings being much more than the reduction of the other five players, their number comes in lower than what is expected.

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. It might not be long before you hear from me again as things continue to change.