The Pittsburgh Steelers current salary cap situation isn’t pretty. In fact, it is quite frightening. Throw in the fact the team clearly wants to at least attempt to sign Le’Veon Bell to a long-term contract, and you should see the writing on the wall.
Some players are going to get cut.
In today’s NFL, the media call these players ‘cap casualties’. Individuals who a team might not necessarily want to get rid of, but due to their inflated contracts, they release them to alleviate their salary cap situation.
For the Steelers, they have several players who could fall into this category, but I narrowed it down to the 5 I think are the most likely to be shown the door for multiple reasons.
In no particular order, here are the Steelers’ 5 potential cap casualties:
Foster accounts for a $3,591,668 salary cap hit in 2018, and would be less than a one-million hit on the books if they cut him pre-June 1st. While this isn’t a huge savings, the fact B.J. Finney is waiting in the wings, and played well in his limited time starting, Foster could be considered expendable.
Gay might be the smartest defensive player on the current roster, but Father Time seems to be catching up with “Big Play” Willie Gay. Gay has a $2,383,334 cap hit in 2018, and in this case it just might be time to call it a career with No. 22. With Cam Sutton, Artie Burns and Mike Hilton all returning, the new order of Steelers’ defensive backs seem primed for a takeover.
The Steelers traded with the San Francisco 49ers to acquire the tight end, and 2017 certainly was a mixed bag for McDonald. The often injured tight end battle shoulder and ankle injuries throughout the season, but was very effective when in the lineup. In fact, by the end of the season the term effective could be replaced by dynamic, when referring to McDonald’s impact on the Steelers’ offense. However, his $4,318,750 cap hit certainly doesn’t make things easy. If the Steelers want McDonald back, a new contract might have to be in the works.
When trades go bad...that is what happened when the Steelers traded with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for Wilcox. Not only did they get a safety who was known more for his knack for huge special teams penalties than big hits or interceptions, but his $3,800,000 cap hit in 2018 almost guarantees his dismissal from the team, and his new start somewhere else.
The most controversial player on the list would have to be Mitchell. The safety accounts for a whopping $8,135,418 salary cap hit, and after a season filled with injuries and lackluster play it is difficult to justify such a huge payout for Mitchell. While the team would then be forced into acquiring a safety either via free agency or the NFL Draft, it would be a lot cheaper, and probably equally effective, as Mitchell.
These 5 moves total $22,229,170 in salary cap hits in 2018. Now, players who are released will still account for dead money on the salary cap, but it would help the Steelers get in a good place with the cap, as well as try and offer Le’Veon Bell a long-term contract.
Will the team make these moves? Who would you add to the list? Let us know in the comment section below!
Note: All cap figures courtesy of OvertheCap.