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Updating the Steelers’ salary cap situation after signing 6 draft picks

Two of the signed draftees land in the top 51 salaries... for now.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers Rookie Minicamp Handout Photo-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers have signed all of their draft picks from the fourth round on from the 2021 NFL draft. Because their top three picks have yet to be signed, two of the six players currently fall in the top 51 salaries for the Steelers. Since that is the case, it’s a great time to give a salary cap update.

The salary cap numbers and contracts for all players drafted by the Steelers have been previously known. Even the contracts for the players who have yet to sign as well as those already under contract can be seen here:

Since the Steelers made a number of acquisitions through the draft and as undrafted free agents, those players not falling in the top 51 of salaries will not be listed below. Therefore, the only contracts will be that of Dan Moore Jr and Buddy Johnson.

Moore’s contract has a salary cap hit for 2021 of $834,475 as reported by overthecap.com. As things currently stand, Moore’s contract would be the final one in the top 51 once the other three draftees sign their deals.

Buddy Johnson‘s cap hit for 2021 is $784,836 which lands him as the number 50 contract at this time. Since it is in the top 51, Johnson‘s contract will be accounted for for now but should drop back out once the Steelers finish signing all their draftees.

The one other factor which could change things is a salary has not been reported yet for Arthur Maulet. If his contract ends up counting $850k towards the salary cap, he would move into the top 51. If it is in the $780k range, it will not affect the salary cap at this time.

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. 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, or change from what it previously was, 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
Mason Rudolph: Reported $2,193,066 cap number; After increase: -$0.945199 million
Dan Moore Jr: Reported $834,475; After displacement: -$0.054475 million
Buddy Johnson: Reported $784,836; After displacement: -$0.004836 million
Arthur Maulet: No salary reported at this time

Approximate salary cap space: Approximately $10.06 million

Note: Miles Killebrew was the final contract displacing a $660k salary. From Cassius Marsh on, the displacement is a $780k salary. Buddy Johnson was the final contract displacing a $780k salary, so from that point on the contracts will vary which will be displaced.


So where does this number compare to those reported by the major salary cap websites?

According to overthecap.com, the Steelers are $9,337,076 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 $9,949,949 under the cap. For some reason, they are counting the prorated signing bonuses of players not in the top 51 toward the salary cap. If adjusting for this unnecessary cost, their number is about the same as mine. As for those signing bonuses they are counting, they will count toward the salary cap if the player makes the 53-man roster, but ultimately should be a savings as they would be replacing a player with a higher cap number. If the player does not make the team, their signing bonus will count as dead money for 2021 as well as 2022.

As for the Steelers other three draft picks, they will cost just under $2 million toward the 2021 salary cap, assuming the three contracts displaced out of the top 51 remain the same.

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.

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, J.C. Hassenauer, and Kevin Rader are not in the top 51 according to OTC. After signing their remaining 2021 draft picks, James Pierre and Carlos Davis as well as the Steelers last six draft picks and undrafted free agents will be outside the top 51 as well.

The Steelers currently have about the right amount of cap space for the season for the time being. If the Steelers were to spend more at this time, they would have to move some things around before September.