The Pittsburgh Steelers have filled up their 90-man offseason roster as they begin into the 2022 NFL season. While there bound to be some swapping of players throughout training camp, there is always the chance something else changes things whether large or small. 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.
Since the last salary cap update after the signing of Larry Ogunjobi, the Steelers have made some minor moves that have not changed their salary cap much, if at all. The signing of defensive lineman Doug Coston with a reported salary of $825k does not put him in the top 51 for salaries. Additionally, the retirement of Daniel Archibong and the release of Trey Edmunds do not come with any dead money, therefore not affecting the salary cap.
The biggest question at this time comes from the Steelers signing running back Jeremy McNichols on the day players reported to training camp. There is one report by Spotrac which has McNichols’ salary with the Steelers at $965k. If this is the case, it would decrease the Steelers salary cap space by $70k. But when looking at McNichols’ contracts in the past, something appears to be a little off.
Jeremy McNichols reportedly signed a contract with the Atlanta Falcons in May. According to Over The Cap (OTC), McNichols was set to earn $1.035 million. This number is reflective of the minimum salary of a player with four to six years of NFL experience, assuming the Falcons were signing McNichols for the minimum. If so, it would qualify as a veteran benefit salary and would only count $895k against the salary cap. The salary according to Spotrac that McNichols will make with the Steelers is based on a player with three years of NFL experience. While McNichols has appeared in games in five different NFL seasons, he’s also been on an NFL practice squad for nearly every week of a season when not on the active roster. According to Steelers.com, McNichols is in his third NFL season. In order to have a veteran salary benefit, a player must have four accrued NFL seasons.
Even with some discrepancy, I’m going to proceed with the report on McNichols’ salary at this time. If McNichols only has three years of service and isn’t eligible for a veteran salary benefit, then he would cost an additional $70k against the Steelers salary cap.
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 million
Karl Joseph: Reported $895k; not in the top 51: -$0
Miles Boykin: Reported $2.54 million; After displacement++: -$0
Terrell Edmunds: Reported $1.1875 million; After displacement+: -$0.2925 million
Damontae Kazee: Reported $1.0475 million; After displacement+: -$0.1525 million
George Pickens: Reported $1.22767 million; After displacement+: -$0.33267 million
Trenton Scott: Reported $895k; not in the top 51: -$0
DeMarvin Leal: Reported $0.943072 million; After displacement+: -$0.048072 million
Bryce Watts: Released with $10k in dead money: -$0.01
Tuzar Skipper: Reported $895k; not in the top 51: -$0
Stephon Tuitt: Saved $9.05 million salary; After displacement+: +$8.155 million
Minkah Fitzpatrick: Reported $8.124235 million; Replaced $10.612 million: +$2.487765 million
Kenny Pickett: Reported $2.557801 million; After displacement+: -$1.662801 million
Larry Ogunjobi: Reported $8 million; After displacement+: -$7.105 million
Doug Costin: Reported $825k; not in the top 51: -$0
Jeremy McNichols: Reported $965k; After displacement+: -$0.07 million
Estimated salary cap space: Approximately $14.26 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 $14,338,932 under the salary cap. OTC has everything on their books at this time, except the McNichols’ contract. Other than that difference, we have the exact same dollar amount.
Another credible salary cap website is spotrac.com, which has the Steelers at $13,776,076 under the cap. Spotrac has the above contracts, including for McNichols. Spotrac 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.
I updated how much I believe the Steelers will need to still have when the regular season rolls around, which is much as an additional $13 million. Come September, the Steelers 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. But there is one more expense that will likely add to the $5 million the Steelers hoped to take into the season (in years past). If the Steelers elevate players from the practice squad, they must receive a full game check. Taking this into account, along with significant increases in league-minimum salaries of players who could be added to the roster if another player is injured, the Steelers will likely want to carry an additional $2 million to $3 million, increasing what I had estimated before to be about $10.8 million up to approximately $13 million. Also remember, this needed amount could go down depending on the salaries of the players who do not make the roster, assuming there is not too much dead money.
Based on this number, the Steelers only have about $1.26 million above what they need for the 2022. If the Steelers feel they need more money against the 2022 salary cap, a restructure of T.J. Watt’s contract could give more than $17 million if the Steelers chose to do so. Also, the Steelers could do a restructure for a lower amount if they choose.
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.