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Further explaining the Steelers current salary cap situation following Free Agency Day 1

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The new NFL league year is officially underway, and we break down just where the Steelers find themselves in terms of their salary cap situation.

NFL: AFC Divisional-Pittsburgh Steelers at Kansas City Chiefs Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

This is a follow up regarding my salary cap article which was published Thursday. People came away with serious misgivings about where the Pittsburgh Steelers are sitting regarding our salary cap. While the Steelers are sitting on $18.8 million in cap space, that number is misleading. (This figure includes the signing of Landry Jones.) There is lots of talk filling the BTSC boards about wanting to bring in higher-priced free agent players. Maybe after reading the following, reality will set in. There were factors that were not considered in the previous article for the sake of simplicity, but maybe that wasn’t the right route to take. So, starting now, let’s delve into items that were not discussed.

1. Let me reiterate one thing: For every player who signs, a player falls out of the Rule of 51. The players who will fall off the bottom of the list account for $540K each.

2. There is no rhyme or reason: It is just the Rule of 51 in the offseason, but once the first game rolls around, the Steelers have to account for their practice squad and the other two players who make up the final 53-man roster. Regardless of this, the Steelers’ cap does not go up -- it remains the same. So for the rest of this article, 53 players will be used. The practice squad and the 52nd and 53rd players will add a minimum of $2 million to the salary cap. This draws the Steelers’ cap space down to $17.3.

3. Pittsburgh is sitting on eight draft picks. While not all will make the team, six realistically should. The other two would be signed to the PS. So, according to Over The Cap, those six players would count $4,849,860 against the salary cap once they are signed. (Players only count $465K until they are signed, which is the league minimum.) The six players those six would push off the Steelers’ Top 53 account for $3,240,000. So Pitt is now on the hook for another $1.7 million, dropping its cap space down to $15.6 million.

4. The Steelers absolutely will carry over a chunk of money into the regular season. This money is to ensure it can afford free agents during the season or to protect practice squad players from being vultured. For 2017, Pitt carried over $3.3 million. In 2016, that total was $3 million. Going out on a limb, let’s go with the higher carryover figure of $3.3 million. That drops the cap space to $12.3 million.

5. Can Bell be signed for a lower cap number than the $12 million he gets under the franchise tag? Will any player be asked to restructure to keep his roster spot? (Specifically looking at you, William Gay and Ladarius Green.)

6. Can the Steelers afford to give a much-needed extension to Stephon Tuitt? “Experts” are saying he will command Cam Hayward money. The first year of his deal paid him over $6 million.

7. Alejandro Villanueva is tied for the 39th-lowest-paid left tackle in the NFL for 2017. AV has started 26 games over the past two seasons and has a fantastic backstory. The Steelers control his rights for 2018, so a deal does not have to be inked. The Rooneys just might make it a point to deal with him fairly. Is Pittsburgh able to treat him right this season? Looking at the cap space, the answer is NO.

8. Pitt has a slew of holes -- not necessarily starting spots, but still valued positions that need to be filled OLB, ILB, backup safety, CB (especially if we lose Cockrell, which is a distinct possibility), backup RB, and we can’t forget the need for OT depth with the retirement of Ryan Harris. Adding to the problem, tight end could pop up as a real need, too, depending on how the team feels about Green going forward.

9. Restructuring of contracts is always a possibility. Doing so always comes with a heavy price tag down the road. Restructuring led to Lawrence Timmons’ inflated cap number of $15 million in 2016. Do we really want to get into a bind so soon after that happened?

I implore all of you to look at our current depth chart and see the many holes that just cannot be filled via the draft -- too many holes to be filled by wish-list players, such as Logan Ryan, who signed for over $10 million per season. Former Viking CB Captain Munnerlyn is also reported to be seeking in the range of $5 million per season, is high on many a wish list. Realistically speaking, the Black and Gold are sitting on $14 million in cap space, and they just can not afford to make such bold moves in free agency.