The Pittsburgh Steelers have made numerous moves to start off the 2022 NFL league year. While reports come in of these deals well before they are official, even after pen is put to paper it can sometimes take some time to know the exact financials within the contract. Relying heavily on reliable salary cap websites such as overthecap.com or spotrac.com, when they are able to report a player’s contract numbers over the specific years I then update the salary cap situation with a more precise number.
The most recent contracts which could move from the “estimated” to the “reported” category is that of offensive lineman Mason Cole and quarterback Mitch Trubisky. With contract details reported, we get a much better picture of where Trubisky and Cole will count for the Steelers against the 2022 salary cap.
I have to confess to something on Cole’s contract as I ended up being off by a fair margin. It wasn’t as much the breakdown of the contract as I was fairly close and those numbers other than a roster bonus being included which ultimately did not affect the cap numbers, but I simply screwed up a calculation. When factoring in Cole’s salary cap hit from his signing bonus, I mistakenly divided by two years rather than three as he did sign a three-year deal. With so many other deals the Steelers signed being two years, I simply worked through the numbers with the wrong divisor, giving a number that was over by more than $800k. But the good news is it means the Steelers have almost another million dollars towards the salary cap than what I was allotting.
Mason Cole’s contract breaks down to where he received a $4.565 million signing bonus. With a $1.305 million base salary for 2022, the salary cap hit comes in just over $2.5 million for the season. Cole’s cap hit for 2023 is almost $7 million as he is expected to earn a $3.9 million base salary and a $1.5 million roster bonus due on the fifth day of the league year next season. As for 2024, Cole‘s base salary goes down slightly to $3.25 million and once again has the $1.5 million roster bonus set up for the same time frame.
As for Mitch Trubisky, his contract comes in much different than I expected. With the total money being $14.285 million for two seasons, it does not currently include any possible incentives which were originally reported but would become part of the cap hit in 2023 when they are implemented. Therefore, it appears these incentives have been deemed to be “not likely to be earned” by the NFL. Trubisky also has a smaller first-year cap hit which consists of a $1.035 million base salary along with his $5.25 million signing bonus. This leaves Trubisky‘s cap number at $3.66 million for 2022 but jumps up to $10.625 million next year as he is due an $8 million base salary.
To determine how much each player changes the Steelers’ salary cap space, their cap number must be adjusted due to roster displacement. As a reminder, roster displacement is taking into account only the top 51 contracts for a team count towards the salary cap during the offseason. As a larger contract comes on the books, it bumps a smaller contract out of the top 51. Therefore, it’s only the difference in those contracts that increases the salary cap number.
Here is the approximate breakdown of the Steelers salary cap space based on their recent moves by my own calculations. The numbers are strictly the salary cap hit for each player in 2022. Players who were released, well given a tender, or had their exact salary reported are indicated below and the precise numbers are known. The players who did not, I use their overall contract to estimate what their salary cap hit will be for 2022. When their exact numbers are reported, like with this update, I will adjust things accordingly. For those remaining, it is simply my best guess. The estimated numbers are for the contracts of Mitch Trubisky, Montravius Adams, and Ahkello Witherspoon.
(NOTE: Unless indicated, all reported salaries displaced a $825k salary. For the estimated salaries, they will be displacing an $895k salary as they are the next group to come out of the top 51.)
Steelers salary cap space heading into free agency: Approximately $28.8 million
Dwayne Haskins: Tendered $2.54 million salary; After displacement: -$1.715 million
Miles Killebrew: Reported $1.5175 million; After displacement: -$0.6925 million
Arthur Maulet: Reported $1.535 million; After displacement: -$0.71 million
Mitch Trubisky: (UPDATE) Reported $3.66 million; After displacement+: -$2.765 million
Mason Cole: (UPDATE) Reported $2.556666 million; After displacement+: -$1.661666 million
Chuks Okorafor: Reported $4.333333 million; After displacement: -$3.508333 million
Robert Spillane: Tendered $2.433 million salary; After displacement: -$1.608 million
Marcus Allen: Tendered $2.54 million salary; After displacement: -$1.715 million
James Daniels: Reported $4.166666 million; After displacement: -$3.341666 million
Levi Wallace: Reported $2.5175 million; After displacement*: -$1.672317 million
Montravius Adams: ESTIMATED $2 million; After displacement: -$1.105 million
Zach Banner: Saved $5 million salary; After displacement: +$4.175 million
Myles Jack: Reported $4.75 million; After displacement*: -$3.90139 million
Joe Schobert: Saved $7.834 million salary; After displacement: +$7.009 million
Ahkello Witherspoon: ESTIMATED $2.6 million; After displacement: -$1.705 million
Gunner Olszewski: Reported $1.5825 million; After displacement+: -$0.6875 million
Estimated salary cap space: Approximately $13.2 million
*The salaries displaced by these two contracts were $845,183 (Tre Norwood) and $848,610 (Pressley Harvin)
+A $895k contract was displaced
So where does this number compare to those reported by the major salary cap websites (at the original time of publishing, before any potential updates)?
According to overthecap.com, the Steelers are $16,634,710 under the salary cap. OTC has all of the above reported contracts on the books except Gunner Olszewski, and neither of the estimated contracts. Once factoring them in, we have the same number.
Another credible salary cap website is spotrac.com, which has the Steelers at $16,032,551 under the cap. Spotrac does not have the estimated contracts either. Additionally, Spotrac does not have the offseason workouts counting against the salary cap at this time.
While the Steelers are going to need cap space for a number of things this offseason, it doesn’t have to be at this time. Following the NFL draft, the Steelers will begin signing their draft picks and are estimated to need $2.6 million in cap space once figuring roster displacement after the exact draft positions are known with the announcement of compensatory draft picks. But remember, the Steelers won’t need this amount until at least May. Also, the Steelers will need as much as an additional $10.8 million come September when they need to account for all 53 players on the roster, sign their practice squad, and have some carryover in order to do business throughout the year as outlined in the following article:
Does something not make sense? Curious about any of the specifics? Leave your questions in the comments below and I will check in and do my best to answer them.