The Pittsburgh Steelers have filled up their 90-man offseason roster heading into the 2022 NFL season. While there still could be some significant swapping of players, the biggest news will likely be contracts in the coming weeks with the signing of draft picks. As 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.
To clear some other contract issues out of the way, the Steelers waved guard Malcolm Pridgeon and signed lineman Trenton Scott over the weekend. Pridgeon was not in the top 51 contracts, and there is no report at this time on the deal with Scott.
On Monday, the Steelers exchanged four players on the roster by adding some players who had tryouts at rookie minicamp and releasing others. Out of all the contracts, the most significant was that of veteran outside linebacker John Simon, but his $895k is simply the amount that are currently being displaced and ultimately has no bearing on the salary cap.
Additionally, the Steelers have now signed more than half of their 2022 draft class. With sixth-round pick Connor Heyward, and seventh-round selections Mark Robinson and Chris Oladokun signing over the weekend, they are all locked in with a base salary of $705k and each have a varying signing bonus based on where they were selected. Connor Heyward’s signing bonus comes in just over $155k while Mark Robinson has just over $112k and Chris Oladokun is just shy of $90k. Based on these numbers, none of these players have a salary cap hit for 2020 to above $750k and fall well outside of the top 51 salaries on the Steelers at this time.
The only player remaining which actually does have an effect on the Steelers salary cap was the first draftee to sign. As a second-round draft pick, George Pickens has the same base salary as all the other first-year players, but has a much larger signing bonus based on where he was selected. As reported by OTC, Pickens’ signing bonus is $2,090,680. Based on his salary and splitting up his signing bonus over the four years of his contract, Pickens has a $1,227,670 cap number for 2022.
It should be noted that Pickens actual cap number comes in lower than what was estimated by OTC based on his draft position and the rookie salary pool. Pickens actually comes in almost $100k less than the estimate, which is good news for the Steelers even if the difference is minor.
If you are looking for the added salary cap due to the rest of the 2022 draftees, they will not be included at this time as they have not signed their contracts. But based on the structure of rookie salaries in the latest CBA, the estimated dollar amounts are known for 2022. Therefore, an explanation as to how much the remaining rookies will cost is given at the bottom of the article.
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, 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 $1.0475 million; After displacement+: -$0.1525
Karl Joseph: Reported $895k; not in the top 51: -$0
Miles Boykin: Reported $2.54 million salary; After displacement++: -$0
Terrell Edmunds: Reported $1.1875 million; After displacement+: -$0.2925
Damontae Kazee: Reported $1.0475 million; After displacement+: -$0.1525
George Pickens: Reported $1.22767 million; After displacement+: -$0.33267
Trenton Scott: Not reported
Estimated salary cap space: Approximately $12.5 million
*The salaries displaced by these two contracts were $845,183 (Tre Norwood) and $848,610 (Pressley Harvin)
+A $895k contract was displaced
++Displaced by each other, giving no change to the cap
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 $12,522,040 under the salary cap. In case you didn’t notice, our numbers are exactly the same down to the dollar.
Another credible salary cap website is spotrac.com, which has the Steelers at $10,709,436 under the cap. Spotrac has the above contracts except for Kazee, but also has Miles Boykin’s prorated bonus incorrectly counting for the Steelers instead of it sticking with the Ravens. Spotrac does not have the offseason workouts counting against the salary cap at this time either. Additionally, Spotrac counts the potential dead money hits of players outside the top 51 salaries in their totals. The biggest difference is they have all of Isaiah John’s and Bryce Watts’ full salaries counting in the injured reserve category as they were waived/injured recently. The Steelers are likely to reach an injury settlement with both players, and even if they do spend 2022 on IR it will not likely be for the full amount of their salary. While these numbers are significant, they generally are things that are covered in the $5 million the Steelers like to have to do business during the season.
What about the 2022 rookies?
Now that the 2022 NFL draft is over, it is known that the Steelers stayed with their designated selections. Based on their draft choices, the rookie contracts signed this offseason will only have three salaries out of the seven drafted players and 10 undrafted free agents that will land in the top 51. Only Kenny Pickett, George Pickens, and DeMarvin Leal should have a 2022 cap hit that will put them in the top 51. Now that Pickens salary have been taken into account, the only remaining ones affecting the salary cap are for Pickett and Leal. After factoring in displacement, their contracts together will count approximately $2.1 million towards the salary cap based on the rookie pool estimate chart provided by OTC. Since these other two contracts are not signed yet, they will not be included at this time until the precise dollar amounts are known. Even if taking these amounts into account, the Steelers would still have approximately $10.44 million left in salary cap space.
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:
Based on this number, the Steelers are within a reasonable range of what they need for the 2022 season at this time without freeing up any other money. Even though there could be some dead money in contracts with players not making the 53-man roster, it should be offset even more by larger contracts of players who are waived. Also, a Minkah Fitzpatrick extension would likely lower his 2022 cap hit if he and the Steelers can reach an agreement.
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.