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Steelers 2016 Salary Cap Situation Not As Bleak As Thursday Media Reports Suggest

On Tuesday, two reports surfaced online and both stated that the Pittsburgh Steelers salary cap situation isn’t great. In fact, both stated the team is currently over the estimated 2016 salary cap number as we sit here today.

Let us recap both of those reports.

Field Yates of ESPN.com reported the Steelers as having $155.9 million in cap commitments for 2016. Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette also reported that the Steelers are $2.5 million over their projected salary cap, according to a league source.

So, let’s look at what Yates posted. First, if you were to take all 66 players currently under contract and add up their cap charges, all dead money and subtract out Mike Adams, you would get a total of $155,927,485 and that matches Yates’ number. That’s fine and dandy, but that’s not how the offseason salary cap works as the Rule of 51 is used. In short, that rule states that the top 51 cap charges in addition to any dead money will serve as the team’s cap number until the start of the regular season.

As far as Bouchette’s report goes, it’s hard to say where his number came from because he doesn’t list specifics. Let us try to find out.

Where are the Steelers currently at right now in relation to being cap compliant for the start of the 2016 league year?

According to my calculations, the team’s current Rule of 51 number (top 51 cap charges plus dead money) is $150,050,710. Keep in mind, however, that I am counting Mike Adams already and in addition to that, I have also estimated the raise Markus Wheaton is scheduled to get in 2016 per him qualifying for the Proven Performance Escalator.

Now, tracking the salary cap in real time is always tough because we don’t know when other charges will hit. In my table below, I have gone ahead and projected the cap rollover from 2015, future workout bonuses and a veteran cap credit payback payment. Based on a now expected $154 million salary cap number for 2016, that would put the Steelers $5,263,017 under the cap.

Now, the Steelers will certainly have future charges such as draft picks (minus displacement), two final roster spots and a 10-man practice squad, so if you want to plan for that, you could say those three line-items will eat up roughly $4.7 million of cap space. Additionally, the team likes to enter a season with around $3 million in reserve cap space and if you factor that in along with the additional line-items, I suppose you could say that the Steelers are roughly $2.5 million over the cap. I’m guessing that’s how Bouchette’s source came up with his number.

In short, the Steelers are fine when it comes to their current cap situation and soon they will have more space due to a few restructures.

PLAYER BASE SALARY CAP CHARGE
Roethlisberger, Ben $17,750,000 $23,950,000
Timmons, Lawrence $8,750,000 $15,131,250
Brown, Antonio $6,250,000 $12,370,833
Pouncey, Maurkice $3,500,000 $10,551,000
Heyward, Cameron $3,000,000 $10,400,000
DeCastro, David $8,070,000 $8,070,000
Miller, Heath $4,000,000 $7,181,668
Mitchell, Mike $5,000,000 $6,763,750
Gilbert, Marcus $3,950,000 $6,461,000
Allen, Cortez $4,400,000 $5,750,000
Suisham, Shaun $2,400,000 $3,503,000
Moats, Arthur $2,500,000 $3,133,333
Jones, Jarvis $1,592,115 $2,769,933
Shazier, Ryan $1,284,292 $2,592,874
Williams, DeAngelo $2,000,000 $2,565,000
Dupree, Bud $854,195 $2,095,974
Wheaton, Markus $1,696,000 $1,843,844
Harrison, James $1,250,000 $1,500,000
Wallace, Cody $1,200,000 $1,350,000
Bell, Le’Veon $966,900 $1,311,100
Tuitt, Stephon $839,040 $1,257,121
Spaeth, Matt $1,000,000 $1,137,500
Golson, Senquez $616,866 $909,328
Adams, Mike $873,225 $873,225
Thomas, Shamarko $675,000 $788,288
Jones, Landry $675,000 $784,805
Bryant, Martavis $600,000 $709,805
Coates, Sammie $525,000 $706,879
Williams, Vince $675,000 $694,670
Ventrone, Ross $675,000 $675,000
Zumwalt, Jordan $600,000 $626,213
McCullers, Daniel $600,000 $619,670
Cockrell, Ross $600,000 $600,000
Frey, Isaiah $600,000 $600,000
Hubbard, Chris $600,000 $600,000
Richardson, Daryl $600,000 $600,000
Toussaint, Fitzgerald $600,000 $600,000
James, Jesse $525,000 $577,228
Walton, Leterrius $525,000 $554,232
Berry, Jordan $525,000 $525,000
Boswell, Chris $525,000 $525,000
Chickillo, Anthony $525,000 $525,000
Fort, L.J. $525,000 $525,000
Grant, Doran $525,000 $525,000
Lyons, Caushaud $525,000 $525,000
Nix, Roosevelt $525,000 $525,000
Vaughan, Dustin $525,000 $525,000
Villanueva, Alejandro $525,000 $525,000
Rogers, Eli $450,000 $451,666
Hatchie, Micah $450,000 $450,333
Blakeney, Issac $450,000 $450,000
Dangerfield, Jordan $450,000 $450,000
Feiler, Matt $450,000 $450,000
Finney, B.J. $450,000 $450,000
Garner, Montell $450,000 $450,000
Grimble, Xavier $450,000 $450,000
Hagen, Jacob $450,000 $450,000
Long, Ty $450,000 $450,000
Mihalik, Brian $450,000 $450,000
Neal, Rajion $450,000 $450,000
Norwood, Levi $450,000 $450,000
Palmer, Tobais $450,000 $450,000
Phillips, Shakim $450,000 $450,000
Shabazz, Al-Hajj $450,000 $450,000
Toure, Abou $450,000 $450,000
Vinopal, Ray $450,000 $450,000
RULE OF 51 CONTRACTS * $149,285,522
DEAD MONEY * $765,188
PROJECTED CAP CREDIT PAYBACK * $1,125,000
PROJECTED WORKOUT BONUSES * $561,600
PROJECTED ROLLOVER * $3,000,327
PROJECTED 2016 SALARY CAP * $154,000,000
OVER/UNDER SALARY CAP * ($5,263,017)
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