The Pittsburgh Steelers released veteran kicker Shaun Suisham on Friday with the “Failed Physical” designation and because that was a significant transaction, I will now pass along what the team’s salary cap picture looks like pending an injury protection benefit payout.
First, let’s have a look at what the CBA has to say about that benefit Suisham will likely be eligible to claim:
Section 1. Qualification: A player qualifying under the following criteria will receive an Injury Protection benefit in accordance with Section 2 below:
(a) The player must have been physically unable, because of a severe football injury in an NFL game or practice, to participate in all or part of his Club’s last game of the season of injury, as certified by the Club physician following a physical examination after the last game; or the player must have undergone Club-authorized surgery in the off-season following the season of injury; and
(b) The player must have undergone whatever reasonable and customary rehabilitation treatment his Club required of him during the off-season following the season of injury; and
(c) The player must have failed the preseason physical examination given by the Club physician for the season following the season of injury because of such injury and as a result his Club must have terminated his contract for the season following the season of injury. This preseason physical may be given by the Club physician prior to the beginning of preseason camp, so long as such fact is clearly communicated in writing to the player at the time of the physical exam. The preseason physical examination given for qualification need not be the entire Standard Minimum Preseason Physical Examination, but shall be that necessary and appropriate to evaluate the injury for which the benefit is sought.
It is agreed that a player who qualifies for Injury Protection under Subsections 1(a) and 1(b) may be waived prior to being given a pre-season physical examination, but the waiving Club would retain Injury Protection liability unless and until the player signed a contract with and passed the physical examination of another NFL Club. In other words, a Club cannot evade Injury Protection liability by early waiving.
Section 2. Benefit: A player qualifying under Section 1 above will receive an amount equal to 50% of his Paragraph 5 Salary for the season following the season of injury, up to a maximum payment of: $1,000,000, in the 2011–12 League Years; $1,050,000, in the 2013–14 League Years; $1,100,000, in the 2015–16 League Years; $1,150,000, in the 2017–18 League Years; and $1,200,000, in the 2019–2020 League Years; in each case unless he has individually negotiated more injury protection or a larger guaranteed salary in his contract. A player will receive no amount of any contract covering any season subsequent to the season following the season of injury, except if he has individually negotiated more injury protection or a larger guaranteed salary in that contract for the affected year in question or if he qualifies for the Extended Injury Protection benefit described below. The benefit will be paid to the player in equal weekly installments commencing no later than the date of the first regular season game, which benefit payments will cease if the player signs a contract for that season with another Club. A player will not be entitled to such benefit more than once during his playing career in the NFL, and such benefit shall be reduced by any salary guaranteed to the player for the season following the season of injury.
Additionally, there is this nice little gem in the CBA as well:
Section 5. (h) Injury Protection. Beginning in the 2016 League Year, any type of Injury Protection liability shall be included in Team Salary for the League Year for which such Injury Protection applies, or the League Year in which such Injury Protection is paid, agreed to be paid by settlement, or awarded, whichever is later.
Now that the league legalese is out of the way, we will first have to wait and see if Suisham files for this injury benefit and second, watch to see when it hits the team’s salary cap. The NFLPA should be updating their numbers on Monday or Tuesday so until then, I will treat Suisham as an outright cut.
As you can see below, the Steelers dead money amount has increased some thanks to Suisham being released. His dead money charge in 2016 as a post June 1 release is $1.103 million. Additionally, the Steelers will have a dead money charge of 2.206 million in 2017 associated with Suisham, who might also count an additional $550,000 against next year’s cap pending his injury benefit claim.
Now, pending Suisham’s claim, I have the Steelers $3,821,898 under this year’s salary cap and as pointed out in an earlier post, I differ from the league in the amount of $8,083, which quite honestly isn’t worth researching right now. That amount under the cap could obviously decrease by $1.1 million depending on what ultimately happens with Suisham. We’ll have to sit back and wait and watch.
Now, as previously noted, roughly $1.9 million in salary cap space the Steelers now have is already spoken for as that will ultimately be eaten up by a 52nd and 53rd player and a 10-man practice squad. Workout bonus charges will also be hitting soon. Additionally, the Steelers normally like to enter the regular season with roughly $3 million in available salary cap space to use as injury protection so with that you can see the team still has a lot on their plates as they prepare for training camp.
A forthcoming contract extension for guard David DeCastro will obviously create additional salary cap space for the Steelers in the weeks ahead. There’s also salary cap space to be had should an extension be worked out with linebacker Lawrence Timmons and especially if no new signing bonus money is given. While DeCastro’s extension is all but guaranteed to happen, that’s not the case with Timmons, at least as it’s viewed by us outsiders.
Should the Steelers want to sign running back Le’Veon Bell to an extension in the coming months, they’ll need to allow for his 2016 cap charge to increase some as well.
While the Steelers haven’t had to restructure any contracts so far during the offseason, they can always go to quarterback Ben Roethlisberger or defensive end Cameron Heyward should the need for additional salary cap space ever arise. As of right now, however, there’s no concrete evidence they’ll need to go that route.
Currently, the Steelers have 93 players under contract and that includes two who are currently on the Reserve/Injured list (Kevin Anderson, Tyriq McCord) and one who is on the Reserve/Suspended List (Martavis Bryant).
|PLAYER||BASE SALARY||CAP CHARGE|
|McCord, Tyriq (Injured Reserve)||$450,000||$452,333|
|Anderson, Kevin (Injured Reserve)||$450,000||$450,000|
|Bryant, Martavis (Suspended)||$0||$109,805|
|RULE 51 CONTRACT TOTAL||*||$144,696,891|
|NFLPA 2015 ADJUSTMENTS||*||($641,349)|
|2016 SALARY CAP||*||$155,270,000|
|UNDER SALARY CAP||*||$3,821,898|