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Updating the Steelers’ salary cap situation after details of Patrick Peterson’s deal emerge

After agreeing to terms with Peterson, how much space do the Steelers have under the 2023 salary cap?

Minnesota Vikings v Green Bay Packers Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers made their first agreement with a player during the legal tampering period of free agency to start the 2023 NFL league year. After getting under the salary cap last week by releasing William Jackson III, the Steelers had almost $10 million without having to make any other moves at this time. After losing out on Cameron Sutton, who signed with the Detroit Lions, the Steelers agreed on a deal with cornerback Patrick Peterson.

So where do the Steelers currently stand with the 2023 salary cap free after Accounting for Peterson? While 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 (OTC) or, 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.

It’s been reported by Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network that Peterson‘s deal was for two years and $14 million with $5.85 million guaranteed.

Based on this information, I am surprised this amount wasn’t reported is $5.835 million. The minimum base salary for Peterson is $1.165 million based on his years experience. If the Steelers split his contract in half where he received $7 million this season and 7 million next season, then it appeared that Pelissero was missing a three wedged between that eight and five. But then reports emerged from both OTC and Spotrac that the contract was not an even split where Peterson is being paid slightly more in year one at $7.15 million with $6.85 coming year two. The 2023 money comes in the form of the $5.835 million signing bonus and a $1.3 million base salary while the 2024 money is a $3 million roster bonus just after the start of the league year and a $3.85 million base salary.

So if Patrick Peterson has a $5.85 million signing bonus split over two seasons, that means $2.925 million will count on each year. Adding on the $1.3 million base salary, Peterson is only set to count $4.225 million against the 2023 salary cap. Once factoring in displacement, he will only lower the salary cap availability by $3.355 million.

With Peterson‘s salary cap hit estimated at $4.225 million, the fact that Ahkello Witherspoon could save $4 million against the salary cap if released the Steelers could simply swap these two players and it would only ultimately cost them $225k against the salary cap. Whether or not the Steelers will choose to cut ties with Witherspoon now that they have Peterson is yet to be determined.

Remember, 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 2023. When it comes to the estimated amounts, I use their overall contract to estimate what their salary cap hit will be for 2023. When their exact numbers are reported I will adjust things accordingly. Until then, it is simply my best guess.

(NOTE: Unless indicated, all reported salaries displaced a $870k salary.)

Steelers salary cap space heading into free agency: Approximately -$1.4 million

William Jackson III: Saved $12.1875 million salary; After displacement: +$11.3175 million
Carlins Platel: Salary not in the top 51: -$0
Patrick Peterson: Reported $4.225 million; After displacement: -$3.355 million

Approximate salary cap space: Approximately $6.56 million

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 (OTC), the Steelers are $7,054,318 under the salary cap and does have the Peterson contract. Additionally, OTC is missing almost $550k in dead money by my calculations. Once factoring this in, we have the same number.

Another credible salary cap website is, which has the Steelers at $7,620,584 under the cap. Spotrac does have Peterson’s contract but is missing two other contracts that are on OTC in Tae Crowder and Jamir Jones. Additionally, Spotrac does not have the offseason workouts counting against the salary cap at this time.

While the Steelers are going to need cap space for a number of things this offseason, it doesn’t have to be at this time. Following the NFL draft, the Steelers will begin signing their draft picks and are estimated to need $2.5 million to $3 million in cap space once figuring roster displacement now that the exact draft positions are known with the announcement of compensatory draft picks. But remember, the Steelers won’t need this amount until at least May. Also, the Steelers will need more money 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.

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.