Over the last 30 years since NFL free agency began, every season it seems there will be players gained and players lost across the league. Many times with the Pittsburgh Steelers they have lost a player simply because they could not compete with the contract numbers. Whether it was Javon Hargrave in 2020 or Bud Dupree in 2021, sometimes a player just gets an offer they can’t refuse and the Steelers simply can’t match it.
But for some players that have departed from the Steelers during the 2023 offseason, the issue does not appear to be salary when the ultimate numbers are disclosed.
Last week, Terrell Edmunds had a goodbye post on Thursday thanking the city of Pittsburgh and the fans. On Friday, it was announced he had signed a one-year deal with the Philadelphia Eagles. Looking at the financials that were disclosed from the deal, Edmunds made more money last year playing with the Steelers.
#Eagles Terrell Edmunds one-year, $2 million, $600,00 guaranteed, $250,000 signing bonus, salary $1.08 million ($350,000 fully guaranteed, $379,411 per game active, $850,000 team improvement-individual incentives— Aaron Wilson (@AaronWilson_NFL) March 26, 2023
The first thing which should be noted from the above tweet is the typo in the per game pay. There is an extra seven in the figure of the amount should be $39,411. This value is based on a 17-game season and Edmunds receiving $670k in per-game bonuses.
When looking at Edmunds salary cap hit for 2023, the $850k listed above must be of the “not likely to be earned” category as they are not counted on his salary cap number at either overthecap.com (OTC) or spotrac.com. For this reason, it would be expected that Edmunds would count $2 million on the salary cap. At OTC, his salary cap number is $1,941,177 and at Spotrac his cap number is $1,881,764. Both of these values are based on estimating the number of games Edmunds will play in 2023. Spotrac uses an estimation of 14 games in what they consider would be likely to be earned while OTC appears to use 15.5 as their number.
Either way, paying Terrell Edmunds $2 million for the year comes in less than what he earned with the Steelers in 2022 where he was paid over $2.5 million. But because of the special veteran salary benefit he was given with last year‘s contract, Edmunds contract counted less than half on the salary cap than what he actually earned.
Another player who recently departed from the Steelers is wide receiver/kick returner Steven Sims who signed a one-year deal with the Houston Texans.
New #Texans wide receiver-kick returner Steven Sims Jr., one year deal has maximum value of $1.7 million, per a league source, with $1.5 million base value and $500,000 guaranteed for former #Steelers #Commanders player @KPRC2 https://t.co/4F3KahMoa2— Aaron Wilson (@AaronWilson_NFL) March 25, 2023
Although Sims contract has not been reported by OTC or Spotrac at this time, the details above show that it was for $1.7 million for the year. The Steelers chose not to retain Sims as a Restricted Free Agent for $2.627 million.
When looking at the Steelers wide receiver room, it would be very difficult to keep multiple players on the depth chart that are used primarily for special teams. With three players fitting this description from 2022 in Sims, Gunner Olszewski, and Miles Boykin, the Steelers were unlikely to keep more than one of these players. Currently Olszewski is still on the Steelers 2023 roster and Miles Boykin is a free agent.
If the Steelers were to match these offers for Edmunds and Sims, it would have cost them $1.82 million after displacement, this is also based on giving Edmunds the full $2 million of his deal. It would have cost just over $1 million towards a salary cap to sign Edmunds for $2 million for 2023 and Sims would have cost just over $700k. With both of these amounts coming in fairly reasonable, it’s safe to say that the decision was made by either the players or the team that it was their best interest for them to each move on.