When Melvin Ingram III was officially signed to the Steelers last Tuesday, I did a salary cap update involving his reported $4 million salary. Within that update, I made sure I used the statement, “Assuming this is the salary cap number for Ingram and there is nothing else included in the deal (such as void years)...” It’s a good thing I did.
According to overthecap.com, Ingram’s $4 million deal for one season also includes four void years in order to reduce his salary cap number for 2021. Ingram will receive a base salary of $1.075 million along with a $2.925 million signing bonus. With the four void years, $585k will be applied to each of the five years (one year contract, plus for void years).
Based on these void years, Ingram’s salary cap number is no longer $4 million for 2021 but instead $1.66 million. In doing so, the Steelers saved another $2.34 million off the salary cap this year but will all be applied to next year’s salary cap.
While adding that money to next year salary cap may be frustrating to some, it does offer a lot of relief for 2021. Instead of Ingram’s salary adding more than $3.16 million towards the Steelers salary cap after displacement, it is now less than $1 million which was added on to the total. In other words, the Steelers now have $2.34 million more available in 2021 than previously reported.
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
*UPDATED* Melvin Ingram: Reported $1.66 million; After displacement: -$0.825525 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 $12.2 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 $12,275,466 under the salary cap. OTC has accounted for all other Steelers’ moves and is extremely similar to mine.
Another credible salary cap website is spotrac.com, which has the Steelers at $14,696,817 under the cap. It should be noted that Spotrac does not have contracts for Ingram 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 at this time. 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.
It’s important to remember that these numbers are based on the best information we have at this time. It is believed that Ingram‘s contract does include for void years while Trai Turner’s contract is not believed to include void based on the available information.
So what do the Steelers actually have to spend at the moment? Of course, they could spend all $12 million without being in any violation of NFL rules, but they would also have to find the space for the things they need come August 31. If wanting to keep that money available, the Steelers could sign a player whose salary cap number for 2021 was as much as $3.5 million (because of factoring in roster displacement) and they would still have the $9.5 million available in September.