The Pittsburgh Steelers are headed into their 2023 offseason. After signing 17 players to reserve/future contracts, the Steelers are now over 51 players on their roster which will count toward the salary cap at the beginning of the new league year. But signing these players have wiped out most of the cap space the Steelers had since the last update.
With one way the Steelers utilize building their team being the NFL draft, the Steelers will also have the opportunity to add their roster in free agency when the new league year kicks off in March. So where do the Steelers stand when it comes to the 2023 salary cap and will they be able to make a splash in free agency or even retain some of their own players?
Below is an estimated breakdown of the Steelers salary cap space for the 2023 season according to the two main salary cap websites, overthecap.com (OTC) and spotrac.com. With the exact salary cap for 2023 as well as some specific numbers not necessarily available, these are the best estimates by two sources high-profile sources as well as a breakdown as to where their numbers may be slightly off.
NOTE: Information that is the same since the last update (such as how much certain players could save against the cap if released) will remain unchanged.
Estimated 2023 salary cap: $225 million
Estimated adjusted salary cap:
Both: $229,427,145 ($4,427,145 in rollover)
Dead money for 2023:
Over The Cap: $5,928,814
Estimated current 2023 salary cap space:
Over The Cap: $1,488,747
Current NFL rank in cap space for 2023:
Over The Cap: 18th
Breaking It Down
Over The Cap
OTC currently has the Steelers with 56 players under contract. Of those 56, one is Cam Sutton who is not under contract because he only has void years remaining, and another is Kirk Merritt who is actually a wide receiver for the New Orleans Saints. I have no idea why he’s in there with the Steelers.
Another discrepancy with OTC is with the amount of the dead money they have rolling into 2023 as they only have the high contract amounts of Stephon Tuitt, Chase Claypool, Buddy Johnson, and Anthony McFarland. Any contract that has a dead money hit of less than $100k they don’t have included.
One other thing that is different between the two sources is OTC has a higher base salary for Alex Highsmith and Kevin Dotson than what is what is reported at Spotrac. They have Highsmith and Dotson with a base salary of $2.745 million each which puts their cap hits just under $3 million for both of them when factoring in the prorated bonus. At Spotrac, Highsmith’s base salary is $1.089 million and Dotson is $1.01 million. Which one is actually correct will take some more digging. But the difference with just these two contracts is almost $3.4 million which would have OTC at a number closer to $4.8 million rather than what they have reported (ignoring other discrepancies listed above).
Compared to OTC, Spotrac has more dead money by accounting for smaller amounts by nine other players which aren’t taken into account by OTC. Additionally, Spotrac only has 54 players under contract by the Steelers, two of which are Cam Sutton and Stephon Tuitt. One of the contracts they are missing is they do not have Elijah Riley, who was signed to the Steelers 53-man roster prior to their Week 16 game, having a contract that rolls into 2023. OTC has this contract for $1.01 million. Spotrac also has some of the reserve/future contracts at a higher rate than OTC, and they have yet to add Anthony Miller to their list.
The biggest difference I see with Spotrac is I believe they have an error in their numbers. They have Stephon Tuitt listed under the active players counting for $4.755 million and also have the same amount counting as dead money in a different section. Based on my calculations, I think they have double counted this. For this reason, and the fact that they don’t have Riley‘s contract (assuming he is under contract for 2023), I think they’re short changing the Steelers by about $3 million (after roster displacement with Tuitt). Obviously this would not have the Steelers in the red and would have them sitting closer to $2.7 million in cap space based on their other numbers.
Where To Get More
There are some players on the Steelers who could save some more money next season if they chose to part ways. Just because the Steelers could save money does not mean they would, or even should, part ways with some of these players. The list consists of players who would save at least $2 million and have a significantly higher cap savings than dead money hit.
William Jackson III:
$12.75 million savings; $0 dead money (OTC has the value as $12,176,471)
$8 million savings; $2.625 million dead money
$8 million savings; $3.25 million dead money
$4 million savings; $1.4825 million dead money
$4 million savings; $1.4825 million dead money
$2.5 million savings; $0.7325 million dead money
$2 million savings; $0.4825 million dead money
$2 million savings; $0.6175 million dead money
These eight players would save the Steelers $43.25 million dollars, but they would have to be replaced. While some players will likely be released, some could be re-signed while others will simply be retained with their current contract.
NOTE: Any release of these players would also be reduced by the amount of the player moving into the top 51 (roster displacement). At this time with the current roster makeup it would be $750k. So the release of a player with a $2 million cap savings would add $1.25 million in cap space.