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Updating the Steelers’ salary cap situation following details from Chris Boswell’s contract

Where do the Steelers sit with the cap heading into their first preseason game?

NFL: Chicago Bears at Pittsburgh Steelers Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers are chugging through 2022 training camp and are less than a week away from their first preseason game. There could continue to be some swapping of players throughout training camp, so 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.

One player who did not have an exact salary cap number during the last update was kicker Chris Boswell, despite his extension being signed before Diontae Johnson’s. On Thursday, Spotrac had Johnson’s contract on their site. It was previously known that Boswell was going to be carrying $1,688,334 in dead money from his previous deal. Additionally, it was reported Boswell had an $8 million signing bonus with his new extension which added another $1.6 million towards his 2022 cap hit. The only thing that was remaining was Boswell‘s base salary in order to figure out his overall cap hit for 2022. According to both Spotrac and Over The Cap (OTC) who had the contract on Friday, Boswell has a base salary for 2022 of $1.76 million. This has his salary cap number at $5,048,334 for 2022, which is an increase of exactly $100k from his previous cap hit before the extension.

Where there is a slight difference between the two salary cap sources is OTC also has Boswell with a $100,000 roster bonus for 2022, but they only counted it as $10,000 on his salary cap number. Because of the discrepancy between these two values, I am using Spotrac’s number, the one listed in the previous paragraph, for Boswell at this time.

One other item of note is the Steelers signing Ron’Dell Carter this week, but his contract is not in the top 51. Also, with both Jeremy McNichols and T.D. Moultry being a situation due to injury, I am not calculating anything with either of them at this time.

Although it doesn’t apply when it comes to a contract extension because players were already on the roster, I’ll still leave the reminder of roster displacement in case anyone is looking over some of the older signings. To determine how much a newly signed 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
Master Teague: Reported $705k; not in the top 51: -$0
Chris Boswell: Reported $5.048334 million; Replaced $4.948,334 million: -$0.1 million
Diontae Johnson: Reported $7.616690 million; Replaced $3.073357 million: -$4.543333 million
Ron’Dell Carter: Reported $825k; not in the top 51: -$0

Estimated salary cap space: Approximately $9.7 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 $9,685,599 under the salary cap. OTC has everything on their books at this time except cap charges with the injured players. With all things reported, we are only $10k apart as they have the extra charge for Chris Bowell as explained above.

Another credible salary cap website is spotrac.com, which has the Steelers at $7,807,703 under the cap. Spotrac has the above contracts and has McNichols and Moultry on the IR. Spotrac also continues to have 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 are about $3.3 million shy of what they will likely 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 once they have an idea of what they could need, and that restructure could wait until after they cut down to 53 players.

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.