The news on Thursday afternoon took a many Steelers’ fans by surprise when the team released former All-Pro guard David DeCastro.
While the exact details and reasons of DeCastro’s release are not done at this time, exactly how it affects the salary cap can be calculated. DeCastro carries a $5,547,500 dead-money hit with him being in the last year of his contract. But since DeCastro was the fourth-highest salary cap number the Steelers had for 2021 at the time of his release, the savings will still be significant. DeCastro’s $8.75 million base salary for 2021 is no longer on the books and does not count towards the Steelers’ salary cap.
But remember, we have to factor in the fact another player slides into the top 51 salaries for the Steelers. Carlos Davis was sitting outside of the top 51 contracts with a salary cap hit of $803,376. With that being the amount that comes into play, DeCastro’s ultimate salary cap savings is $7,946,624.
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.
Here is the approximate breakdown of the Steelers salary cap space based on 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: Reported $850,000; After displacement: -$0.067 million
Pat Friermuth: Reported $1,096,033; After displacement: -$0.311197 million
Najee Harris: Reported $2,372,263; After displacement: -$1.568887 million
Offseason Workouts: 90 players x $275/day x 32 days: -$0.792 million
David DeCastro: Saved $8.25 million salary; After displacement: +$7.946624 million
Approximate salary cap space: Approximately $15.3 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 $7,389,993 under the salary cap. OTC has yet to account for the DeCastro release, so once they do their number will be extremely similar to mine.
Another credible salary cap website is spotrac.com, which has the Steelers at $15,821,653 under the cap. It should be noted that Spotrac does not have the offseason workouts on the books at this time. One last discrepancy comes from where they are counting the prorated signing bonuses of players not in the top 51 toward the salary cap. If adjusting for these things, their number is also 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’ only other player not counting toward the salary cap, Kendrick Green’s contract will slide into the top 51 once signed and will ultimately bump out Carlos Davis’ contract back out. The ultimate cost after displacement for Green’s contract will now be about $83k once it gets made 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.
The Steelers now have some salary cap space in order to make a move before training camp. Unfortunately, they also now have a large void left in their roster with the departure of David DeCastro.