It’s long been believed that when the Pittsburgh Steelers acquired cornerback Justin Gilbert via a trade with the Cleveland Browns ahead of the 2016 regular season that they would be on the hook for the full amount of his remaining two years worth of contract. Following Gilbert being waived on Monday by the Steelers, Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is claiming that there will be no dead money associated with Gilbert’s contract even if the cornerback should ultimately go unclaimed on waivers.
This situation will definitely be interesting to watch play out in the coming days and I have reached out to a few agents in attempt to get some clarification on the matter as it relates to the Steelers potential financial commitment to Gilbert.
When the Steelers acquired Gilbert via their trade with the Browns, they presumably did so in exchange for a 2018 sixth-round draft pick as well as taking on the remainder of his contract. That contract Gilbert signed when he was a rookie included a 2017 base salary of $970,023 in addition to a 2017 roster bonus of $1.2 million and both amounts were believed to be fully guaranteed.
When the Browns traded Gilbert, they were forced to eat the remainder of his original prorated signing bonus against their 2016 salary cap.
Did the Steelers have any trade stipulations with the Browns that revolved around Gilbert making it to the 2017 season? I don’t know the answer to that question but I’d imagine we’ll find out very soon if Bouchette’s claim is ultimately true and one would think and hope he probably got his information from somebody within the Steelers organization.
Update: Here is what former NFL agent Joel Corry told me:
“Steelers assumed the contract Gilbert signed with the Browns in the trade. There would have to be some undisclosed contract breach that occurred for there to be no dead money.”