The Pittsburgh Steelers are continuing to add to their roster for the 2023 season. 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, the Steelers have added wide receiver Allen Robinson via trade. Not even worrying about the swap and draft picks, Robinson was to earn $15.25 million this season. But as part of the trade, the Rams paid Robinson $10.25 million of his contract leaving the Steelers on the hook for only $5 million in 2023, all of which is guaranteed. The Steelers will have a decision when it comes to the 2024 season as Allen is due a $10 million base salary and a $5.75 million roster bonus on March 21.
One thing that is interesting when it comes to Robinson is that he is a player who could have his contract restructured. Because the two void years from his contract with the Rams could travel with him, Robinson’s salary for 2023 could even be reduced another $2.87625 million if the Steelers chose to do such a thing.
UPDATE: After writing this article Thursday evening, what I said was possible in terms of a restructure is true according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.
As part of the trade to the #Steelers that'll be official tomorrow, ex-#Rams WR Allen Robinson's contract has been reworked, source said.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 21, 2023
2023: LA pays $10M total and PIT gives him a $3.835M signing bonus and base of $1.165M.
2024: He now has a $10M base, down from $15M.
So not only did the Steelers restructure Robinson’s deal as much as they could, they reduced his salary for 2024 by $5 million. If the Steelers kept the void ears in Robinson‘s contract, as described above, his cap hit for 2023 would be $2.12375 million. But according to Spotrac on Thursday night, they have Robinson’s restructure only being through 2024 with no void years included. If this is the case, then Robinson’s signing bonus only gets spread out over two years instead of four and comes in with a cap hit of $3.0825 million for 2023. For now, I will go with the higher value reported by Spotrac for my total below and will adjust it if new information changes things.
To clean up the one player who is remaining after the last update, the salary for linebacker Tanner Muse has now been reported by both salary cap outlets. Muse will get a league-minimum $1.01 million salary for 2023.
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: Reported $4.933333 million; After displacement*: -$4.059333 million
Isaac Seumalo: Reported $4 million; After displacement*: -$2.740582 million
ADJUSTMENT (Dead money clarification): +$0.49333 million
James Pierre: Reported $1.3 million; After displacement*: -$0.401911 million
Le’Raven Clark: Reported $0.99 million; After displacement*: -$0.081194 million
Zach Gentry: Reported $1.232 million; After displacement+: -$0.2925 million
Keanu Neal: Reported $1.54 million; After displacement+: -$0.6 million
Breiden Fehoko: Reported $0.94 million; After displacement+: -$0 million
Armon Watts: Reported $1.0925 million; After displacement+: -$0.1525 million
Jamir Jones: No cap savings: +$0 million
Braden Mann: Reported $1.01 million; After displacement+: -$0.07 million
Tanner Muse: Reported $1.01 million; After displacement+: -$0.07 million
Allen Robinson: Reported $3.0825 million; After displacement+: -$2.1425 million
Approximate salary cap space: Approximately $7.4 million
*The salaries displaced by these four contracts were $874,000 (Jaylen Warren), $876,084 (Calvin Austin III), $898,089 (Mark Robinson), and $908,806 (Connor Heyward).
+The salaries displaced by these contracts are $940,000.
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 $5,553,798 under the salary cap. OTC still has Allen Robinson’s cap number at $5 million as of Thursday night, and they do not have the contract for Braden Mann. Other than this, we have the exact same number.
Another credible salary cap website is spotrac.com, which has the Steelers at $7,560,585 under the cap. Spotrac does have the contracts outlined above at this time. Spotrac does not have the offseason workouts counting against the salary cap and their dead money amount is incorrect. Additionally, Spotrac counts the potential dead money hit for players not in the top 51 even though it does not need to count against the 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 $3.4 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 as much as an additional $13 million 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 as outlined in the following article:
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.