With the Pittsburgh Steelers dealing with one of the best salary cap situations they’ve had in a long time this offseason, there hasn’t been much discussion about which players may become cap casualties when the new league year begins. While there are several players who can save the Steelers a significant amount of space under the salary cap, there are several players on the team which would cost more against the cap if they were cut, rather than to keep them for the season.
Throughout this week, we will take a look at which players fit into one of three categories:
- Those who it would cost more to move on from in 2022.
- Those whose dead money is about the same as what the Steelers would save.
- Those who the Steelers would get the most savings, should they move on from them for the 2022 season.
The first group was players the Steelers can’t realistically move on from because of their contract, not that they would want to.
The next group is the players who could save the Steelers some cap space but the dead money hit would be a lot to overcome. Just to clarify, “dead money” is the amount money already paid to a player that has yet to be accounted for under the salary cap. In the first part of the series, it was obvious those players weren’t going anywhere based on the numbers, let alone their worth on the field. This time, it’s a little bit more complex as some players are more obvious to stay than others. What is nice about this category is that there are very few players, so the number of decisions which could get a little dicey is minimal.
Here is a list of the three Steelers who have at least a $1 million dead money amount if they were to be released for the 2022 season, and this value exceeds their salary cap savings. While some of these players the Steelers won’t consider moving on from anytime soon based on their on-field production, others may not offer enough on the field despite their dead money amount. Remember, another option is for the Steelers to extend any of these players which could help the situation. As usual, it never hurts to know the numbers. All figures listed are courtesy of overthecap.com and reflect if the player was a pre-June 1 cut.
Dead money: $9,680,750
Cap Savings: $4,295,000
As you will soon see, a contract having void years is a big factor in putting players into this group, especially if they are entering their final year. When the Steelers restructured Tuitt’s contract last August, they added three void years in order to save $6.34 million last season. Unfortunately, that now means that money will come around eventually. By using void years, the Steelers could save just over $9 million in Tuitt’s salary in 2022 should they decide to cut ties, but the additional $4.755 million that would come next season would come in now. So, unless they decide to rework the deal in some way, the Steelers options are to have Stephon Tuitt under contract for just under $14 million in 2022 and have him count $4.755 million next season when not under contract, or not have him under contract in 2022 for more than $9.5 million. But if Stephon Tuitt ends up not taking the field for the Steelers, the fact they could save anything would be more beneficial than continuing to pay money for nothing.
Dead money: $2,800,000
Cap Savings: $2,400,000
Once again, a contract containing void years creates an interesting situation for the Steelers. Normally when a player is heading into the final year of their contract, it would be a lot of cap savings if they were to be released. Just like with Stephon Tuitt, this is not the case for Cameron Sutton. The three void years on his contract he signed in 2021 have it to where it would cost the Steelers $2.8 million in dead money should they move on. Moving on from Sutton is not a wise football move in this case, so the more concerning thing with his contract is the $2.1 million he will count next year on the salary cap while not being under contract with the Steelers.
Dead money: $1,186,050
Cap Savings: $618,487
Technically hitting the cut off point, Chase Claypool would cost to Steelers more than $1 million in dead money should he be released and would only offer cap relief of just over $600k. For this reason, releasing a player in this situation would not even cover the displacement of another player coming into the top 51. Therefore, as expected, this contract is staying on the books for 2022 as it should, regardless of whose name was attached to it.
So these are the three players currently under contract with the Steelers who have a dead money hit which is more than their salary cap savings. While it does not make it impossible to cut any of these players, the savings might not be worth how much they still continue to count towards the salary cap. Of course, this is strictly from a numbers perspective. When factoring on-the-field performance, it’s not about the dead money as much as how much they can save if the Steelers feel their performance is not worth their salary.
Stay tuned to BTSC for the 3rd and final part outlining players who give the most cap savings versus their dead money hit.