The Pittsburgh Steelers are wading into the 2022 offseason and one of the next major junction’s of the next league year is freeing up more cap space by releasing players. It is a yearly activity teams must accomplish to clear cap space and trim roster fat where money could be better used elsewhere.
The Steelers have a list of players that find themselves in a position to be cut for cap reasons. While there are other players that could provide the Steelers with cap relief, cutting them would ensure just as much dead, or unusable, cap space.
Below are the most likely names to be released, and the money the Steelers would save with the move.
Joe Schobert — $7,834,000
Joe Schobert simply will not play on his current contract if he wants to be a Pittsburgh Steeler in 2022. He is amongst the highest paid linebackers in football, but doesn't give the team nearly that level of production. His contract could be restructured, or he could give back some of that money to the Steelers, but considering he isn't a great fit beside Devin Bush, they need a thumper beside Bush, it’s more likely than not Schobert gets the axe.
Zach Banner — $5,000,000
The Steelers took a chance on re-signing Zach Banner after tearing his ACL; however, Banner failed to get healthy. The team can't sit back on a contract like this and risk tying that much space into an often injured player. It is time to move on from the most eligible tackle in the sport. The Steelers need to overhaul the line and spend these dollars on players that will make an impact.
Derek Watt — $2,750,000
First, let me say I highly highly doubt Derek Watt gets cut. He is still an outstanding special teamer and an impact player, whether you like it or not. But I wouldn't be surprised if the Steelers gave Watt a short-term extension to reduce his cap number a bit. It is possible he gets the axe, but considering his brother is someone you want to keep happy I doubt the middle Watt goes anywhere.
Joe Haeg — $2,600,000
This is another no-brainer cut to me. Joe Haeg getting released almost costs the Steelers no dead cap space and he really doesn't bring anything that a replacement level player could do for cheaper. I never liked the signing from the get-go and the Steelers should look to move on a year after signing him.
Stephon Tuitt — $9,050,000 (Post June 1st)
This will be the most polarizing move of the offseason that isn't the quarterback decision. It seems like Stephon Tuitt and the Steelers are headed toward a divorce, or a retirement. It’s been a really tough year for Tuitt battling a family tragedy and injuring his knee. But if Tuitt is unable to come back in 2022/23, the Steelers are probably going to move on much like they were forced to do with David DeCastro. You obviously hope Tuitt can return to his dominant form, but if he is truly done this is the move the Steelers will be forced to make.
If the Steelers were to release all of the names above they would bring their current cap space of roughly $33 Million to roughly $60.2 million before they even thought of re-structuring contracts like Cam Heyward (+$6.5 million) or Cam Sutton (+$2.6 million) and they could even push about $8 million dollars of Ben Roethlisberger’s dead money into the future by waiting to place him on the retirement list until June. But what do you think? How will the Pittsburgh Steelers go about creating more salary cap space? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.