On Tuesday, it was reported that NFL team executives attending the league’s annual labor seminar were told that the salary cap for the 2015 season is projected to rise to $138 million to $141 million, however, a Thursday report by Adam Schefter of ESPN indicates that the NFLPA believes a “substantial increase” will be added, based on memo that was released.
Below is the memo that Schefter passed along in his report.
“As you may have read, recent media reports from the NFL owners meetings in Dallas projected the 2015 NFL Salary Cap to be between $138.6 and $141.8 million. Last year, these same “projections” called for a flat cap that was ultimately a $10 million increase from the previous year. The salary cap is inextricably tied to League revenues and as we saw last year, substantial increases in revenue will lead to substantial increases in the salary cap.
We have become increasingly concerned about these early projections and in the upcoming months the NFLPA will issue projections based upon our analysis of expected revenue. We believe that this will aid players, agents and general managers to more effectively forecast the salary cap and aid players in contract negotiations. Additionally, we will provide you with information previously shared with players about the current spending levels of all teams and their compliance with the minimum cash spending requirements of the new CBA.
As Partners in this business, our expectation is that NFL revenues will continue to grow and our business will continue to thrive.”
As far as the Pittsburgh Steelers go, they currently have 37 players under contract for 2015 with cap charges that total out at just over $126 million. In addition to those charges, they also will have to account for dead money charges in 2015 that total out at almost $9.5 million. If you add those two totals together you get combined charges of nearly $135.5 million that are currently on the 2015 books.
The Steelers also have four players on their roster right now that are scheduled to be exclusive rights free agents in punter Brad Wing, guard Chris Hubbard, wide receiver Justin Brown and linebacker Terence Garvin. Tendering all four of those players would amount to another $2.115 million in 2015 cap space and it would bring the total amount of players under contract up to 41.
In addition to those four players, cornerback Antwon Blake, safety Robert Golden and fullback Will Johnson are all scheduled to be restricted free agents. If they’re wanted back, all three should be easily retained with right of first refusal tenders.
The Steelers will have some decisions to make early on in the offseason when it comes to several veteran players under contract for 2015, however. They could decide to part ways with defensive end Brett Keisel, wide receiver Lance Moore and defensive end Cam Thomas and in doing so that would clear an additional $5 million in cap space in the process prior to displacement taking place.
There’s also a possibility that veteran safety Troy Polamalu might decide to retire and if that winds up being the case, the team will save another $3.75 million in cap space prior to displacement.
The Steelers are also expected to give quarterback Ben Roethlisberger a new contract extension early on in the offseason. Theoretically they could do that without his currently scheduled cap charge in 2015 of $18.395 million going much higher as a good portion of his 2015 base salary of $11.6 million that he’s currently scheduled to earn can be rolled into a new extension.
Offensive linemen David DeCastro and Kelvin Beachum will also be entering the final years of their current contracts in 2015, so the team will more than likely want to try to extend both of them when the team arrives in Latrobe for training camp. In addition to DeCastro and Beachum, defensive end Cameron Heyward will undoubtedly be in line for an extension during the offseason as well.
Heyward is currently scheduled to earn $6.969 million in 2015 after having his fifth-year option picked up prior to the 2014 season. Depending on how a new deal is structured for him in the upcoming offseason, his 2015 cap charge should be able to be reduced some.
The hope is that the 2015 salary cap number increases another $10 million like it did last year. If that happens, we could be looking at a final number in the neighborhood of $143 million. Keep in mind that the team will have to fill out their top 51 roster spots early in the offseason, but those salaries are usually of the minimum variety or close to it.