The Pittsburgh Steelers made several moves during the first week of 2023 free agency. 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. Earlier this week I did an update after the addition of Patrick Peterson, but now more information has come in with additional moves.
So where do the Steelers currently stand with the 2023 salary cap free after the moves this week? 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 overthecap.com (OTC) 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 cap update, there are six different contracts reported to affect the Steelers 2023 salary cap. The Steelers retained Damontae Kazee on a two-year contract for $6 million paid out as $3 million each year. For 2023, Kazee has a base salary of $1.25 million along with a signing bonus of $1.75 million. Kazee’s cap number for this year will be only $2.125 million with $3.875 million being the hit next year.
Another signing from Tuesday was guard Nate Herbig who signed a two-year deal for $8 million with the payout being $4 million each year. Herbig has a base salary in 2023 of $1.08 million along with the signing bonus of $2.92 million. This contract breakdown has Herbig with a salary cap number in 2023 of $2.54 million with the 2024 cap hit being $5.46 million.
Another signing of the Steelers was inside linebacker Cole Holcomb who landed a three-year deal for $18 million with $6 million being paid out each season. Holcomb‘s base salary for 2023 is the league minimum of $1.08 million along with his signing bonus of $4.92 million. Spread out over three years, the signing bonus counts $1.64 million each season where Holcomb‘s 2023 cap hit is $2.72 million and the final two years each have a cap hit of $7.64 million.
The Steelers also signed defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi to a three-year deal reportedly worth $28.75 million. The breakdown of this deal has not been reported and will be addressed at the end of the article. But to make room for this contract, the Steelers restructured Minkah Fitzpatrick‘s deal in order to save $10.065 million on this year’s salary cap.
The Steelers made two more movies on Thursday as they signed linebacker Elandon Roberts to a two-year deal worth $7 million with $3.5 million being paid out each year. Roberts has a $1.165 million base salary in 2023 along with a $2.335 million signing bonus. This breakdown leaves Roberts with a cap number of $2.3325 million for 2023 and $4.6675 million for 2024. After signing a second linebacker, the Steelers released Myles Jack which saved $8 million against the salary cap while contributing $3.25 million to the dead money pool.
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
Damontae Kazee: Reported $2.125 million; After displacement: -$1.255 million
Nate Herbig: Reported $2.54 million; After displacement: -$1.67 million
Cole Holcomb: Reported $2.72 million; After displacement: -$1.85 million
Minkah Fitzpatrick: Saved $10.065 million; No displacement: +$10.065 million
Elandon Roberts: Reported $2.3325 million; After displacement: -$1.4625 million
Myles Jack: Saved $8 million; After displacement: +$7.13 million
Larry Ogunjobi: No Report yet
Approximate salary cap space: Approximately $17.5 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 overthecap.com (OTC), the Steelers are $18,011,818 under the salary cap and has all the above contracts except for Larry Ogunjobi. Additionally, OTC is missing almost $500k in dead money by my calculations. Once factoring this in, we have the same number.
Another credible salary cap website is spotrac.com, which has the Steelers at $18,578,084 under the cap. Spotrac has the above contracts except for Ogunjobi 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.
One salary which is missing from the report, which is quite significant, is that of Larry Ogunjobi. With his salary reported as 3 years for $28.75 million and with $21.75 million being guaranteed over the first two seasons, it all comes down to the breakdown of that second number. Under Kevin Colbert, there was a general equation with how the Steelers would shape there contracts to make them much easier to estimate. But this is no longer the case. Knowing that the final year of the deal was for $7 million in base salary, there’s a good chance that the second year could be around the same amount. Exactly how much Ogunjobi was paid as a signing bonus will determine how the salary cap hit is split up. In my estimation, his cap hit for 2023 will likely come in between $5.7 million at $9.5 million. If this range is correct, which is quite a large range, the Steelers will be sitting somewhere between $8 million and $11.8 million in cap space.
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.