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Updating the Steelers’ salary cap situation after details from Genard Avery’s contract

With multiple reports of the contract structure of Avery, how much space do the Steelers have under the 2022 salary cap?

Philadelphia Eagles v New York Jets Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images

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 last salary still outstanding for the Pittsburgh Steelers at this time is for linebacker Genard Avery. Although the breakdown has been reported at both spotrac.com and overthecap.com, his actual salary cap hit is not reported at OTC and is reported incorrectly, in my opinion, at Spotrac at the time of this writing.

Avery‘s one-year contract is for the league minimum $1.035 million for a player with his years of experience. The Steelers have also reportedly given Avery a signing bonus of $152,500. Based on these numbers, this contract fits exactly under the Veteran Salary Benefit as explained in the Collective Bargaining Agreement in Article 27, Section 2, Part a:

For purposes of this section, a “Qualifying Contract” shall be defined as a Player Contract signed by a Qualifying Player that (i) covers only a single League Year and (ii) contains no terms that affect compensation in any way other than (1) the applicable minimum Paragraph 5 Salary, (2) up to $137,500 in “Additional Compensation” for the 2020-21 League Years (e.g., signing bonus allocation, roster bonus, reporting bonus, or any incentive (“likely to be earned” or not)), and/or (3) a guarantee for Salary and/or Salary advance of up to the Minimum Salary for a player with two Credited Seasons.

Additionally, the CBA also states in Article 27, Section 2, Part B, that the additional compensation is increased in 2022 to the exact amount the Steelers reportedly gave Avery:

The maximum amount of Additional Compensation in (2) above shall be increased to $152,500 for the 2022–23 League Years

For this reason, Genard Avery’s contract is a textbook example of a new player signing a veteran salary benefit contract. It is my belief that when the numbers get situated at both salary cap websites that Avery will ultimately count $895k against the salary cap for 2022. This amount is explained in Article 27, Section 2, Part B, of the CBA:

Notwithstanding any other provision of this Agreement, the Salary Cap count for a Qualifying Contract shall be the same as the minimum salary for a player with two Credited Seasons.

For this reason, I am sticking with this number until proven incorrectly otherwise. As a result, Genard Avery does not add any additional money to the Steeler salary cap as he will not land in the top 51 salaries. If Spotrac is correct and there is a provision I have missed, Avery will only cost the Steelers $152,500 against the salary cap after displacement according to their numbers.

UPDATE: After a clarification from Spotrac, the signing bonus given to Avery counts in addition to the $895k as the Veteran Salary Benefit contract. Therefore Avery’s salary cap number comes in at $1,187,500.

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.

(NOTE: Unless indicated, all reported salaries displaced a $825k salary.)


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: Reported $1.1875 million; After displacement+: -$0.1525
Karl Joseph: Reported $895k; not in the top 51: -$0

Estimated salary cap space: Approximately $13.3 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 except Genard Avery and we have the exact same number otherwise.

Another credible salary cap website is spotrac.com, which has the Steelers at $13,267,051 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.