Although it was something I was looking to avoid, it’s time to update where the Steelers stand in regards to the salary cap after recent moves.
Knowing the exact salary cap during training camp can be quite tricky. With players being Waived/Injured and either reverting to injured reserve or having an injury settlement, these numbers aren’t always readily available. So far, the Steelers have reported injured reserve salaries for two players totaling $885k. Since that number is out there, I will include it in this report but it should be noted that there will be even more settlements coming. This is one of several reasons why the salary cap number at this time of year is an estimate.
In the other roster moves the Steelers have made, only one player, Lafayette Pitts, has reportedly fallen inside the top 51 salaries. After roster displacement, he only added $70k to the salary cap but is included below.
The Steelers also traded for and restructured the contract of Joe Schobert. Between the money paid by the Jacksonville Jaguars and the restructure, Schobert is reported to cost $1.88 million against the 2021 salary cap. After displacement, Schobert only reduced the salary cap by just over $1 million.
The big news which changed the salary cap significantly was the restructure of Stephon Tuitt.
While a lot of these things are merely reports, I’m going with the initial numbers reported by ESPN’s Field Yates to determine the Steelers salary cap space at this time. In order for these numbers to work, it is assumed the Steelers added three void years to Tuitt’s contract. It should be noted these numbers are not confirmed. There could be no void years included, or the exact amount of some of the numbers could be different. But for now, the estimated salary cap will be based on the report that the Steelers saved $6.34 million against the 2021 salary cap in the restructure.
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. It should be noted that these numbers are merely reports and will be adjusted if more information becomes available. For example, there are still conflicting reports as to whether or not Trai Turner’s deal has void years included.
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 $1.46 million; After displacement: -$0.656624 million
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
Marcus Baugh: Reported $780,000; not in the top 51: -$0
Pete Gurriero: Reported $660,000; not in the top 51: -$0
Lafayette Pitts: Reported $920,000; After displacement: -$0.07 million
Malcolm Pridgeon: Reported $780,000; not in the top 51: -$0
Injury Settlements: Reported $440,00 and $415,000: -$0.855 million
Joe Schobert: Reported $188 million; After displacement: -$1.03 million
Stephon Tuitt: Reportedly saved $6.34 millionm; No roster displacement: +$6.34 million
Approximate salary cap space: Approximately $18.1 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 $15,128,966 under the salary cap. OTC has accounted for all other Steelers’ moves except for Turner’s void years as well as not having any void years for Tuitt’s deal which only would have the Steelers saving $3.95 million versus $6.34 million. OTC also has not added the injured reserve players yet despite reporting the numbers. Once these would be added to their number, it is similar to my projection.
Another credible salary cap website is spotrac.com, which has the Steelers at $18,521,817 under the cap. It should be noted that Spotrac does not have an accurate base salary for Turner, although it is close. More discrepancies come from where they are counting the prorated signing bonuses of players not in the top 51 toward the salary cap as well as not having offseason workouts or players on injured reserve.
One last place to get a salary cap total is the NFLPA. In their daily report, they had the Steelers at $11,832,604 on Monday. If adding on the Tuitt restructure savings of $6.34 million, their number is $18.17 million.
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 $5 million in carryover in order to do business throughout the year.
So what do the Steelers actually have to spend at the moment? Of course, they could spend all $18+ 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 and there just wouldn’t be space to do it. But even if the Steelers hold back as much as $11 million for future expenses, they still have money to make the moves many believe to be in the works.