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Updating the Steelers’ salary cap situation after Vince Williams’ retirement

With three changes after the signing of Melvin Ingram, the Steelers’ salary cap has barely moved.

Pittsburgh Steelers v Cleveland Browns Photo by: 2019 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images

On Wednesday, the Pittsburgh Steelers announced that inside linebacker Vince Williams I was retiring after nine NFL seasons.

The retirement of Williams is not the only change to the Steelers roster since the last salary cap update following the signing of Melvin Ingram. The Steelers also signed their final 2021 draft pick in Kendrick Green and added an offensive tackle in Chaz Green.

First, Kendrick Green’s contract slid into the top 51 once he signed his deal on Tuesday. It ultimately bumps out one of the eight contracts which have a cap hit of $850k. The cost after displacement for Green’s contract will now be about $36.5k which will be added to the salary cap.

As for Vince Williams, he was one of the eight players whose salary cap hit was at $850k for 2021. His “dead money” from his previous contract when he was released has already been factored in so it doesn’t change anything. If simply saying Vince Williams was the $850k contract which was bumped by the Kendrick Green signing, Williams could be classified as not in the top 51 salaries. In other words, the Steelers do not save a single dollar at this time by the retirement of Vince Williams.

As for Chaz Green, his contract falls under the veteran salary benefit and only costs $780k against the salary cap according to overthecap.com. At this amount, he does not land in the top 51 salaries and does not affect the current salary cap number.

What exactly is the veteran salary benefit? As a reminder, here is an explanation given by frontofficenfl.com:

Veteran salary benefit: Formerly known as the minimum salary benefit, the veteran salary benefit allow teams to offer a “Qualifying Contract” to any player with at least four credited seasons at a reduced salary cap hit. Under this provision, a qualifying contract is a one-year deal worth the minimum base salary applicable to a player with his number of credited seasons, plus $137,500 in additional compensation (i.e., signing bonus, roster bonus, incentive, etc. — amount begins to increase in 2022). These contracts are charged against the salary cap at the rate of a player with two credited seasons that league year.

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
Trai Turner: Reported $3 million; After displacement: -$2.196624 million
Melvin Ingram: Reported $4 million; After displacement: -$3.165525 million
Kendrick Green: Reported $886,502; After displacement: -$0.036502 million
Vince Williams: Saved $850,000; After displacement: -$0
Chaz Green: Reported $780,000; not in the top 51: -$0

Approximate salary cap space: Approximately $9.87 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 varied which were displaced. Now the contracts are at $850k which would be displaced.


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

According to overthecap.com, the Steelers are $13,085,466 under the salary cap. OTC has accounted for all other Steelers’ moves except for Melvin Ingram, so once they get Ingram’s contract on the books their number will be extremely similar to mine assuming Ingram’s deal does not include any void years.

Another credible salary cap website is spotrac.com, which has the Steelers at $14,733,320 under the cap and has not changed since the last salary cap update. It should be noted that Spotrac does not have contracts for Ingram, Kendrick Green, or Chaz Green as well as the offseason workouts on the books at this time. Another discrepancy comes from where they are counting the prorated signing bonuses of players not in the top 51 toward the salary cap. One very big discrepancy is Spotrac has Trai Turner’s contract including four void years which has not been reported by any other outlet. If adjusting for these things, their number is also about the same as mine.

Also, the Steelers will need about an additional $9.5 million 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. This number is dependent on the NFL going with a 16-man practice squad, and the exact players the Steelers release when they cut down their roster on August 31.

As training camp ramps up this week, the Steelers only have 89 players on their roster with the retirement of Williams. If the addition to the roster has a salary less than $850k, it will not affect the Steelers salary cap space at this time.