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The complete Pittsburgh Steelers 2018 offseason primer

Get everything from potential compensatory picks, draft selections, salary cap information and important dates right here!

Baltimore Ravens v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

This write-up is to make you aware of all aspects of the Steelers’ 2018 off-season, and look at how they’re positioned to attack improving all phases of this talent-laden roster.

First up, we need to assess their salary cap situation. Lots of sources have the 2018 NFL Salary Cap pegged at $178 million, but for this editorial, I think that figure is low. I’m going to base my figures on Mike Jurecki’s reported figure of $180 million. So let’s breakdown where that puts the Steelers.

2018 Salary Cap - $180,000,000

2017 Cap Rollover - $4,041,060

Total Available 2018 Cap Number - $184,041,060

2018 Total Liabilities per Over the Cap - $185,121,836

Available Cap Space - (-$1,080,776)

As you can tell going into the beginning of the league year, the Steelers have some work to do, not only to get into compliance with the cap, but to give themselves some space to improve their roster, as well as to re-sign some of their own. Some difficult decision will have to be made.

  • Also we need to clear up one situation. Ryan Shazier’s 5th-Year option is guaranteed for injury, which means the team will have to carry his entire cap-hit this year, and we cannot cut him. I know this should be the last thing on our minds, as we all hope and pray that Ryan is able to resume a semblance of a normal life.

So, let’s move on to some of those difficult situations that the front office will have to examine, and those are as such:

Name (Savings) (Dead Money)

Mike Mitchell - S ($5m) (-$3,135,418)

Vance McDonald - TE ($4,318,750) (0)

J.J. Wilcox - S/ST ($3.125m) (-$675k)

Ramon Foster - LG ($2.675m) (-$926,668)

William Gay - CB/S/LB ($1.75m) (-$633,334)

Robert Golden - S/ST ($1.475m) (-$416,668)

Coty Sensabaugh - CB/ST ($1.4m) (-$212,500)

Darrius Heyward-Bey - WR/ST ($1.2m) (-$133,334)

Restructure Candidates

Antonio Brown-WR (Roster Bonus)

Stephon Tuitt-DE (Roster Bonus)-Max Restructure on Feb. 10, 2018

David DeCastro-RG (Roster Bonus)-Max Restructure on Feb. 10, 2018

Alejandro Villanueva-LT (Roster Bonus)

Extension candidates that are not free agents

Ben Roethlisberger - QB - Free Agent in 2020, with talk leaking out after the Haley exit of Ben wanting to play three more years, why not take advantage of that by re-doing his deal and lowering his cap-hit in the first couple years, by giving him a nice-sized signing bonus.

Joe Haden - CB - Free Agent in 2020, but the team could give him a short-term extension with higher signing bonus and lower base salary to reduce cap-hits in the next few years. Was a solid contributor last year after some lingering injury questions. Also has a $1 million roster bonus in 2018.

Vince Williams - ILB - Free Agent in 2019, with the Shazier Injury, he’d give some needed continuity.

L.T. Walton - DL - Free Agent in 2019, Valuable rotational DL who can play outside and inside.

Martavis Bryant - WR - Free Agent in 2019, After a mercurial mid-season temper tantrum, he got back to work and started showing flashes of his pre-suspension self.

Jesse James - TE - Free Agent in 2019, Solid No. 2 TE, who’s a solid outlet receiver, especially when paired with a seam-stretching TE.

Other Off-season Decisions

5th Year option - Bud Dupree-OLB (May 3rd Deadline) (Cost of around $8.7 million in 2019).

List of Free Agents

UFA-Le’Veon Bell-RB (If Franchise Tagged again, carries a cap-hit of $14.544 million).

UFA-Chris Hubbard-RT

UFA-Arthur Moats-OLB/ST

UFA-Sean Spence-ILB

UFA-Justin Hunter-WR

UFA-Daniel McCullers-DT

UFA-Stevan Ridley-RB

UFA-Daimion Stafford-S

RFA-Chris Boswell-K

RFA-Roosevelt Nix-FB/ST-Signed a 4 year extension on Feb. 10, 2018

RFA-Anthony Chickillo-OLB/ST

RFA-Eli Rogers-WR/PR (Torn ACL clouds decision to tender contract).

RFA-Fitzgerald Toussaint-RB/KR

RFA-Jordan Berry-P-Resigned Feb. 1st,2018.

RFA-Greg Ducre-CB

ERFA-Mike Hilton-NCB-Resigned Jan. 16th,2018.

ERFA-B.J. Finney-C/G-Resigned Feb. 19th,2018.

ERFA-Kameron Canaday-LS-Resigned Jan. 15th, 2018.

ERFA-Xavier Grimble-TE-Resigned Jan. 15th, 2018.

ERFA-Matt Feiler-G/T-Resigned Jan. 31st,2018.

ERFA-Mike Matthews-C

Off-season needs

  • ILB
  • Pass Rusher (OLB or Interior Nickel Pass Rusher)
  • Ballhawking S
  • WR Depth/Possibly a Slot Type WR
  • RB
  • A DT/NT who can 2 Gap in Run Downs
  • S/LB Hybrid to play in Dime Packages.

Compensatory Pick Awarded

According to the tremendous work over at OvertheCap, we’re not expecting to be awarded a compensatory pick, but I disagree with that assessment. Using some of their theories for the way picks are awarded, as well as my detailed knowledge of the CBA, I believe Pittsburgh will be awarded a fifth-round pick.

Here’s why:

My adjusted scale of salaries compared to rounds awarded

AAV-Annual Average Value of Contract

3rd Round-Any contract that holds an AAV of $10 million or more

4th Round-$7--$9.9 million AAV

5th Round-$5--$6.9 million AAV

6th Round-$2.5m--$4.9m AAV

7th Round-$1.2m--$2.4m AAV

  • 7th Round lowest value could have a lower floor value.

With this chart, in conjunction with the OvertheCap Cancellation Chart, which he mistakenly accounts for J.J. Wilcox as a FA addition even though he was traded to the Steelers, shows that this is an account of total Free Agency Cancellation of players, not a strict one-for-one cancellation. Also factored in is playing time. We will examine only qualified FA Losses and Gains.

FA Lost

Lawrence Timmons - MIA - LB

2yr/$12m=$6m AAV

Played 78% of MIA Snaps on Defense.

5th Round Value

Markus Wheaton - CHI - WR

2yr/$11m=$5.5m AAV

Played 19% of CHI Snaps on Offense.

5th-round value based on contract, could be sixth round due to lack of playing time.

FA Gain

Tyson Alualu - JAX - DL

2yr/$6m=$3m AAV

Played 44% of PIT Snaps on Defense.

6th Round Value

Coty Sensabaugh - NYG - CB

2yr/$2.6m=$1.3m AAV

Played 23% of PIT Snaps on Defense.

7th Round Value

In this cancellation chart, the Contract’s signed by Alualu and Sensabaugh cancel out the contract of Wheaton, which in turn leaves the contract of Timmons as the reason why the Steelers could be awarded a fifth-round compensatory pick.

2018 NFL Draft Picks

1st Round #28

2nd Round #28

3rd Round #28

5th Round #11 (From SF) Vance McDonald Trade

5th Round #28

5th Round Compensatory Pick (Projected Pick)

7th Round #2 (From NYG) Ross Cockrell Trade

7th Round #28

Important Off-season Dates

Feb. 20th-First Day to designate Franchise Tag or Transition Tag

Feb. 27th-March 5th-NFL Combine

March 6th-Last Day to designate Franchise or Transition Tag-4 PM Deadline

March 12-14th-Legal tampering period for free agents

March 14th-Deadline to tender contracts to RFA and ERFA

Must be Under 2018 Salary Cap before 4 PM ET.

Free Agency Begins at 4 PM ET.

Trading Window for 2018 starts at 4 PM ET.

April 26-28th-NFL Draft in Dallas.


I hope all this information helps keep you on track as we go throughout this adventure of an off-season.

Resources-, SteelersWire, Chris Adamski-TribLive, Jeff Hartman FA Article,, Mike Jurecki, and NFLPA Public Salary Cap Report, NFL CBA