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 two days ago, OTC has added the contracts of Zach Gentry, Keanu Neal, and Breiden Fehoko. Safety Keanu Neal signed a two-year deal with the Steelers worth $4.25 million. Neal will collect $2 million this season with a $1.08 million base salary and a $920k signing bonus. The second year of Neal’s deal has a base salary of $2.25 million. Taking all this into consideration, Neal‘s salary cap hit for 2023 is $1.54 million.
Zach Gentry has a very interesting one-year contract for 2023. Based on the breakdown by OTC, Gentry has a Four-Year Player Qualifying Contract. Because not all of his salary is counted towards the salary cap, it must be some sort of veteran benefit contract. Additionally, Gentry‘s base salary is above that of the $1.08 million minimum for a player with his years of experience. The only way this can be done is with a Four-Year Player Qualifying Contract much like Terrell Edmunds received in 2022. But there are still differences from Edmunds’ contract. The Steelers are allowed to give as many as two of these contracts each year and the amount of salary cap savings as a veteran benefit can total $1.35 million between the two contracts. But in Gentry‘s case, he is only being paid an additional $167,500 above the minimum. Therefore his base salary is $1.2475 million but it only counts as $1.08 million. Gentry also has the maximum signing bonus allowed under these types of contracts of $152,500. Taking all this into consideration, Gentry’s contract pays him $1.4 million dollars but he only counts $1.2325 million dollars on the salary cap according to OTC.
As for Breiden Fehoko, his contract is for a league-minimum $940k. This amount puts him in the category of players who are both within and outside of the top 51 salaries as the Steelers currently have 13 players with this exact salary cap hit. As of now, 10 of those contracts are in the top 51 with three being outside of that range.
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
Approximate salary cap space: Approximately $9.8 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 $9,836,298 under the salary cap and has all the above contracts. Because of this, we have the exact same number.
Another credible salary cap website is spotrac.com, which still has the Steelers at $10,888,085 under the cap as of Thursday evening. Spotrac does not have the three contracts outlined above at this time. Spotrac also does not have the offseason workouts counting against the salary cap at this time 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.
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.