The Pittsburgh Steelers have forever been a team that isn’t afraid to spend money on a yearly basis and 2017 was no different for the organization. According to numbers released Monday by the NFLPA, the Steelers spent $165,073,198 in cash in 2017 and that was 98.85% of what the league’s salary cap number was ($167 million).
How much teams did, and did not, spend in 2017: pic.twitter.com/fihOoLhDLS
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) February 26, 2018
In case you didn’t already know it, as part of the 2011 CBA, NFL clubs are required to spend 89% of the salary cap in cash averaged during a four-year period. Additionally, league-wide, the requirement is 95% in cash for the same period.
Cash spending, as far as theses numbers go, includes total salary amounts paid to a player, signing bonuses earned or paid, non-benefit amounts earned such as roster, reporting, and workout bonuses. For example, last offseason the Steelers signed wide receiver Antonio Brown to a contract extension and that deal included a base salary in 2017 of 910,000 and a signing bonus of $19 million. That means the Steelers were credited as spending nearly $20 million in cash on Brown in 2017. For salary cap accounting purposes, however, Brown’s signing bonus is amortized over five years.
Cash and cap are two different things and thus you have to keep that in mind annually.
In case you’re curious, below is the section in the CBA that talks to cash spending:
Section 9. Minimum Team Cash Spending:
(a) For each of the following four-League Year periods, 2013–2016 and 2017–2020, there shall be a guaranteed Minimum Team Cash Spending of 89% of the Salary Caps for such periods (e.g., if the Salary Caps for the 2013–16 and 2017–2020 are $100, 120, 130, and 150 million, respectively, each Club shall have a Minimum Team Cash Spending for that period of $445 million (89% of $500 million))
(b) Any shortfall in the Minimum Team Cash Spending at the end of a League Year in which it is applicable (i.e., the 2016 and 2020 League Years) shall be paid, on or before the next September 15, by the Team having such shortfall, directly to the players who were on such a Team’s roster at any time during the applicable seasons, pursuant to the reasonable allocation instructions of the NFLPA.
(c) Nothing contained herein shall preclude a Team from having Cash Spending in excess of the Minimum Team Cash Spending, provided that the Team complies with the accounting rules of the Salary Cap set forth in Article 13.
(d) If the NFL agrees, or a final judgment or award is entered by the System Arbitrator, that a Team has failed by the end of an applicable League Year to make the payments required to satisfy a Team’s obligations to pay the Minimum Team Cash Spending required by this Agreement, then, in the event the Team fails promptly to comply with such agreement, judgment or award, the NFL shall make such payment on behalf of that Team (such funds to be paid as salary directly to the players on such Team at the direction of and pursuant to the reasonable allocations of the NFLPA).