The Pittsburgh Steelers are headed into their final regular season game of the 2022 NFL season. While there’s still a possibility of a playoff berth, the Steelers do not control their own destiny and are going to need some help. Regardless of if the Steelers have the opportunity to extend their season or not, how they finished the second half of 2022 will go a long way in building for the 2023 NFL season.
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.
Estimated 2023 salary cap: $225 million
Estimated adjusted salary cap:
Over The Cap: $230,542,711 ($5,542,711 in rollover)
Spotrac: $229,587,241 ($4,587,241 in rollover)
Dead money for 2023:
Over The Cap: $5,928,814
Estimated current 2023 salary cap space:
Over The Cap: $17,361,784
Current NFL rank in cap space for 2023:
Over The Cap: 15th
Breaking It Down
Over The Cap
OTC currently has the Steelers with 39 players under contract. Of those 39, 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.
The reason OTC has a higher salary cap amount rolling into 2023 from 2022 is based on their estimated current salary cap amount left for the Steelers for the rest of this year.
So even though OTC has an extra contract on the books for $940k, it still doesn’t cover up the amount of dead money that is likely being rolled into this year according to Spotrac. The biggest question with their estimate is the Steelers having more than $5 million to roll into next season.
Compared to OTC, Spotrac has a smaller amount rolled into 2023 from the season which is probably more realistic. Also, they have more dead money by accounting for smaller amounts by nine other players which aren’t taken into account by OTC.
Additionally, Spotrac only has 37 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.
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 $3.7 million. If this is the case, their number would come in just under $17 million (approximately $16.9 million) that the Steelers have available for 2023.
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
$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.