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 was 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 third and final part of the series, let’s look at the players who can save the Steelers a significant amount of space under the salary cap versus their dead money hit.
Here is a list of the nine Steelers who have a higher cap savings than their dead money amount if they were to be released for the 2022 season. To keep the list under control and not get into a lot of rookie contracts which fit the description but actually save much money, these players are ones whose cap savings is more than $1 million with players such as Justin Layne and Benny Snell just missing the cut. Granted, some of these players the Steelers would not consider moving on from anytime soon based on their on-field production. But whether or not their departure would be likely given their salary cap situation, 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: $1,888,000
Cap Savings: $7,834,000
This is a less than ideal situation. Having Joe Schobert is the fifth-highest salary cap hit for the Steelers in 2022 is not something they should want to have come September. The fact that Schobert has such a small dead money amount versus how much the Steelers can save makes him a prime candidate for them to just cut ties. If the Steelers want to keep Schobert around, it’s got to be at a much lower rate than his current contract.
Dead money: $1,625,000
Cap Savings: $5,000,000
Having a more than $6 million cap hit for a player who only played five offensive snaps is another one the Steelers can’t take into the season. Either we have seen Banner in the black and gold for the last time, or a different contract for next season would be on the horizon. But paying $5 million in cash for someone who ended up as the fourth-best offensive tackle on an offensive line toward the bottom of the league is not something a team can do and find success.
Dead money: $1,683,334
Cap Savings: $3,265,000
Finally, we have a contract of a player who it doesn’t matter how much they would save against the salary cap the Steelers are not letting them go. If anything, Chris Boswell should be extended beyond 2022 whether it be before or after the season. But this contract, at this time, is money well spent.
Dead money: $1,963,334
Cap Savings: $2,750,000
This is where some of these contracts gets to be a difficult situation because the salary cap savings are not overly significant. Yes, the Steelers have barely utilized the fullback position since Derek Watt has joined the team. But the Steeler special teams captain definitely affects the third phase of the game.
Dead money: $1,040,000
Cap Savings: $3,000,000
Although some Steelers fans will disagree, Mason Rudolph isn’t going anywhere during the offseason. The only quarterback under contract for 2022 at this time, the fact Rudolph only counts just over $4 million against the salary cap is a pretty good deal. The only way this number is coming off the books is if the Steelers end up with better options after the preseason.
Dead money: $962,500
Cap Savings: $2,500,000
The Steelers need help on the defensive line, and Tyson Alualu is looking to return from his ankle injury which cost him all but two games in 2021. It’s very unlikely the Steelers would cut Alualu for salary cap purposes, so the only way this contract is coming off the books is if something happens where his injury has severely affected his play and he is unable to make the team.
Dead money: $500,000
Cap Savings: $2,600,000
This contract is different than the others as there is also a roster bonus attached to it. If the Steelers were to do anything different with Joe Haeg‘s contract, they would want to do it before March 21 where $500,000 will automatically be paid. Right now, Haeg brings the most experience to the room even if he isn’t a starter, so his contract may just stay put.
Dead money: $283,357
Cap Savings: $2,790,000
While some may want to scream about the drops, there’s no way the Steelers are cutting a Pro Bowl wide receiver in order to save under $3 million against the salary cap. The only question now is if Johnson gets another contract prior to the start of the 2022 season.
Dead money: $600,000
Cap Savings: $2,300,000
Called on to be a starter in 2021, Chris Wormley‘s contract still carries good value for the Steelers even if he was the fourth option and a rotational piece. If the Steelers were really strapped for money it could be a different story, but there’s just so little savings here for a player who’s coming off having a career high 7.0 sacks.
So these are the nine players currently under contract with the Steelers who have a salary cap savings which is more than their dead money hit. While cutting any of these players does carry some cost against the salary cap, the money has already been paid to the player so they are not taking any more cash out of pocket if they were released. Of course, this is strictly from a numbers perspective. When factoring on-the-field performance, some of these players are no-brainers to keep while others could be looking for the call from the Steelers’ front office sometime in the next several weeks.