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Updating the Steelers’ salary cap situation after details from Ahkello Witherspoon’s contract

After more precise numbers are in on Witherspoon, how much space do the Steelers have under the 2022 salary cap?

NFL: Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

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 final contract which can be moved from the “estimated” to the “reported” category is that of cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon. With contract details reported by Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle, we get a much better picture of how much Witherspoon will count for the Steelers against the 2022 salary cap.

When the number of years and total contract came out for Witherspoon, I expected his contract to look extremely similar to that of free agent cornerback Levi Wallace. In fact, if the reports are true, the two contracts are exactly identical. Since I had Witherspoon‘s estimated number very close and merely rounded up to be safe, the total amount of salary cap space I had projected previously barely changes.

As for Witherspoon’s contract reported above, he comes in with a $2.5175 million cap hit for 2022 and a $5.4825 million hit in 2023.

The only player on the Steelers whose contract is not factored into the salary cap at this time is newly signed linebacker Genard Avery. Signing only a one-year deal, I anticipate it will be for an amount that qualifies as a veterans salary benefit contract. If this is the case, the signing will not affect the salary cap as it will simply create yet another cap hit at $895k and won’t displace anything. If this turns out to not be the case, then an updated cap amount will be needed once the contract is disclosed.

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, were 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 only estimated number left at this time is for Ahkello Witherspoon, which I did slightly round up the expected salary cap hit I anticipate for 2022.

(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: Reported $3.66 million; After displacement+: -$2.765 million
Mason Cole: 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: Reported $1.7675 million; After displacement+: -$0.8725 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+: +$6.939 million
Ahkello Witherspoon: Reported $2.5175 million; After displacement+: -$1.6225 million
Gunner Olszewski: Reported $1.5825 million; After displacement+: -$0.6875 million
Genard Avery: No report

Estimated salary cap space: Approximately $13.45 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 $13,452,210 under the salary cap. OTC has all of the above reported contracts on the books and we have the exact same number.

Another credible salary cap website is spotrac.com, which has the Steelers at $13,419,551 under the cap. Spotrac has the above contracts, but does not have the offseason workouts counting against the salary cap at this time. Additionally, Spotrac counts the potential dead money hits of players outside the top 51 salaries in their totals.

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.