In a season where the Pittsburgh Steelers saw more salary cap space than they have in years, one Item of business which was missing from their offseason moves was releasing players to save against the salary cap. As the 2020 NFL league year kicks off at 4 PM, the Steelers have made the first salary cap cut in releasing offensive tackle Zach Banner.
Banner signed a two-year deal with the Steelers last offseason worth $9.5 million. With a $1.25 million base salary in 2021 and a $3.25 million signing bonus, Banner will carry a dead money hit of $1.625 million for 2022. While that is the negative part of Banner’s release, the positive financial return is an additional $5 million saved against the salary cap.
Based on the structure of his salary, Zach Banner, the highest cap hit for the Steelers offense, had the second-highest salary cap savings of any player on the Steelers roster if he were to be released. The only player who can save the Steelers even more for 2022 is Joe Schobert, who would carry a $7.834 million cap savings. At this time, the Steelers continue to keep Schobert under contract.
Zach Banner came to the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2018 but never saw the field and was inactive for almost every game. Banner started one game as a jumbo tight end in 2019 while he appeared in 14 games playing 216 snaps on offense. In 2020, Banner got his only start at tackle in his career in Week 1 against the Giants only to suffer a season-ending ACL injury. In 2021, Banner could not find his way back onto the field and only appeared in seven games for the Steelers, mainly on special teams, as he only played five offensive snaps.
Just as other salary cap moves the Steelers have made in previous years, it is not out of the question for the Steelers to re-sign Banner at a much lower rate at a later time. Whether both parties would be interested in a reunion is not known.
Stay tuned to Behind The Steel Curtain as the Steelers continue through the 2022 free agency period.