The Pittsburgh Steelers got business going on Monday as they began to answer some of the questions with their 2022 roster. Between coming to terms with two players who cannot sign contracts until 4 PM on Wednesday, along with retaining several of their own players, the Steelers did not sit back and wait when it came to free agency.
So after signing these players, how much will it cost the Steelers in 2022 and beyond?
Based on reports, let’s check out exactly where these contracts fell in terms of the salary cap for 2022. While some numbers will be precise, others will have to be speculatory based on the overall contract and not knowing the exact breakdown of signing bonuses and the base salaries.
Reported $14.2 million for two years, plus incentives
Mitchell Trubisky's deal with Steelers is two years, $14.2 million, but he could earn as much as $26.2 million if he reaches all the incentives in his contract, per sources.— Gerry Dulac (@gerrydulac) March 15, 2022
Various reports had slightly different contract numbers for Trubisky, but for this exercise I’ll go with Steelers insider Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. With $14.2 million for two years, Trubisky is likely to come in under the midway point as a salary cap hit for 2022. If the Steelers divided the compensation between the two seasons and gave all but the league minimum for Trubisky in the first year as a signing bonus, the contract could look like it was a $1.1 million salary this year with a $6 million signing bonus. This would put Trubisky at a $4.1 million salary cap hit for 2022. Remember, these numbers are merely speculation until the specifics are announced. As for 2023, it’s tough to speculate without knowing the incentives, so I won’t.
Estimated 2022 salary cap increase after displacement: $3.3 million
Reported $15.75 million for three years
Mason Cole’s three-year deal with the Steelers is for $15.75M with $11M paid out in the first two years, per source. https://t.co/3HldIozNO8— Field Yates (@FieldYates) March 15, 2022
Once again, it will take some speculation to estimate Cole’s salary cap hit for the first season in Pittsburgh. If the number of $11 million paid over the first two years reported by ESPN’s Field Yates is true, it means we know the base salary is $4.75 million in 2024. Taking another guess of how the first two years could work out for Cole, I’m going to make a guess at a $1 million base salary for 2022, a $5 million signing bonus, and $5 million in base salary for 2023. Based on these estimates, Cole would only cost $3.5 million against the salary cap for 2022. Those numbers would step up to $7.5 million in 2023 and $7.25 million in 2024.
Estimated 2022 salary cap increase after displacement: $2.7 million
Reported $29.25 million for three years
Steelers' deal for Chukwuma Okorafor three years, $29.25M deal, $9.25M signing bonus, salaries $1.25M, $6M, $4.75M; $4M roster bonus 5th day of 2023, $4M 5th day 2024 lg year roster bonus— Aaron Wilson (@AaronWilson_NFL) March 15, 2022
Thanks to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle, we know the exact numbers for Okorafor going forward with the salary cap. With a $1.25 million base salary for 2022, and a signing bonus $9.25 million spread out over three seasons on the salary cap, Okorafor is only going to cost the Steelers $4.333 million for 2022. To put this number into perspective, it’s less against the salary cap than Derek Watt. Unfortunately, it also means that Okorafor’s cap hit skyrockets to $13 million next season, but the Steelers could move on and save roughly half of that amount. Although the $29.25 million looks big, it is more of a one-year “prove it” deal for Okorafor before they invest even more in him for 2023 and beyond.
Estimated 2022 salary cap increase after displacement: $3.5 million
Robert Spillane & Marcus Allen
Reported restricted free agent tenders
Pittsburgh also placed the original-round tender on S Marcus Allen and the ROFR tender on LB Robert Spillane ($2.433 million).— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) March 15, 2022
It was also reported the Steelers offered restricted free agent tenders to both Robert Spillane and Marcus Allen. It was reported Spillane‘s offer was a right of first refusal which comes in at $2.433 million. As for Marcus Allen, NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported the Steelers used the ever-so-slightly higher original-round tender of $2.54 million simply to receive a draft pick if he signed somewhere else. With a difference of just under $110k, this designation will not break the Steelers salary cap.
Estimated 2022 salary cap increase after displacement: $1.6 million & $1.7 million
After looking at all five of the players the Steelers reportedly added to their team on Monday, it cost approximately $12.8 million against their salary cap space for 2022. Remember, these values count after displacement, meaning they only count towards the salary cap the difference in salary of the player they knocked out of the top 51.
Obviously, the Steelers are likely not finished when it comes to free agency. Additionally, the Steelers will have to eventually make some other roster moves at some point. With their remaining cap space, not including the salaries of Miles Killebrew and Arthur Maulet which have not been officially reported, the Steelers remaining salary cap is just about the amount they will need for signing their draft class, the final two players on the roster come September, paying their practice squad, and having money to carry into the season for regular business. But notice three of those things do not come into affect until September, so even a last minute contract extension, a restructure, or a higher-salaried player not making the roster could help to get to this amount after the preseason is concluded. So for now, the Steelers have the ability to manage things in regards to the 2022 salary cap.