No, The Steelers Won’t Be Cutting Haden And They Don’t Need $8 Million In Cap Space For Draft Class

As most of you should know by now, not everything posted on the internet and reported in newspapers or television is true and especially when it comes to the Pittsburgh Steelers. From national sports giants such as ESPN and CBS to local team beat writers and bloggers, there is a ton of misinformation passed along daily about the Steelers. On Tuesday, a perfect example of misinformation concerning the Steelers showed up in a Bleacher Report article written by Derrik Klassen that has created quite a stir.

In that Tuesday article, Klassen attempted to predict which starters around the league might be cut from this point of the offseason and on. Klassen named six different players from around the NFL he believes are candidates to be cut this offseason and Steelers cornerback Joe Haden was listed as one of them.

Interesting, yet stupidly, enough, below is the main reason Klassen gave for why he believes the Steelers will have no choice but to part ways with Haden in the coming weeks any months.

The Steelers need to cut Joe Haden to clear enough cap space for their upcoming draft class.

Heading into the weekend, they only had about $8 million in cap space, but that number shrank with the signing of linebacker Mark Barron. He signed a two-year, $12 million deal that will likely put his 2019 cap hit somewhere between $5 and $6 million.

However, Pittsburgh’s 10-pick draft class will cost approximately $8 million,depending on how many of those picks it keeps. The Steelers don’t have the money to sign their draft class without making a serious roster cut.

For such a short paragraph, it sure does include quite a bit of misinformation.

For starters, while new Steelers linebacker Mark Barron did indeed recently sign a two-year contract with the team that reportedly totals out at $12 million, his 2019 salary cap charge is likely to be closer to $4 million instead of being between $5 and $6 million like Klassen speculates and especially if the early report that the former member of the Los Angeles Rams received just a $5.75 million signing bonus winds up being correct.

With the Barron 2019 salary cap charge misspeculation now out of the way, let’s look at the bigger piece of misinformation that Klassen had in his article and that’s his statement that the Steelers “don’t have the money to sign their draft class without making a serious roster cut.”

While Klassen is correct that the Steelers are currently scheduled to have 10 picks in this year’s draft that currently will come with total salary cap charges of “approximately $8 million,” he failed to take into account roster displacement for a completely signed 2019 ten-member draft class.

Roster displacement is a very important factor when it comes to tracking a team’s salary cap during the offseason as the Rule of 51 is in play up until the start of the regular season. Obviously it would be near impossible for every NFL team to fit all 90 players on their offseason rosters under the league’s annually designated salary cap amount and thus the CBA contains provisions that limit the calculations to the highest 51 salary cap numbers (“Rule of 51”) on a team, plus all bonus prorations for players outside the top 51 cutoff, in addition to all dead money from released players.

The Rule of 51 amount, along with a team’s projected rookie pool amount, is especially important when calculating how much cap space will roughly be needed to accommodate a fully signed draft class. In short, an easy Rule of 51 displacement exercise can be done to help quickly come up with a rough estimate as to how much extra cap space will be needed to sign all scheduled draft picks.

The easiest Rule of 51 displacement exercise to run for any fan of any NFL team includes taking the number of scheduled draft picks and multiplying it by the minimum base salary for that particular year and then subtracting that amount from the team’s estimated rookie pool number, which one can easily find on Over the Cap. For the Steelers, that exercise would look like: $8,177,280 [estimated 2019 Steelers rookie pool amount per OTC] – $4,950,00 (10 x $495,000 [2019 minimum base salary amount]0. The derivative of that quick and dirty exercise for the Steelers would be $3,227,280, and that number would be a high estimation of the amount of salary cap space needed for the team to sign their entire currently scheduled draft class.

If one really wants to get a more specific number and one has a full list and salary cap charges for all Steelers currently under contract, a top 51 number can be easy calculated after adding in each estimated salary cap charge for each member of this year’s draft class.

I have already done the exact work I just outlined above and based on the team’s current top 51, which includes an estimated cap charge for Barron, the Steelers currently need an estimated $2,702,280 in additional salary cap space to sign their currently scheduled 2019 draft picks. In case you need some specifics as to what the contract estimations are for each of the scheduled Steelers selections, I have them in a table for you at the bottom of this post, courtesy of OTC. Keep in mind that these numbers are only estimations, but should be very close, if not 100% correct. Obviously, if the Steelers trade away picks before or during this year’s draft, the team’s rookie pool amount will change accordingly.

As you can clearly see, $2,702,280 is a lot less than $8 million. As for Klassen’s suggestion that the Steelers will likely need to cut Haden this offseason, that’s ridiculous considering he’s the team’s best cornerback. The only cutting that might be done with Haden between now and the start of the 2019 regular season is the cutting of a contract extension for him as the former first-round draft pick is currently in the final year of the contract he signed in August of 2017.

Klassen missed a tap-in putt when it comes to his Steelers player suggestion as he could have named safety Morgan Burnett and nobody would have batted an eye. Instead, he foolishly listed Haden and in doing so it brought a lot of attention to his long list of misinformation in his post.

I really hated to have to make an example of Klassen and his misinformation but after 15 different site readers sent me a link to his Tuesday article on Haden either via a Twitter or email, I thought I needed to set the record straight for everyone.

Steelers 2019 Draft Class Contract Estimations (per

Picks Round Round # Overall # Total Value Signing Bonus 2019 Cap Charge 2020 Cap Charge 2021 Cap Charge 2022 Cap Charge
1 1 20 20 $12,590,648 $7,176,836 $2,289,209 $2,861,511 $3,433,813 $4,006,115
2 2 20 52 $5,506,266 $2,024,556 $1,001,139 $1,251,424 $1,501,709 $1,751,994
3 3 2 66 $3,653,420 $1,133,420 $778,355 $868,355 $958,355 $1,048,355
4 3 20 83 $3,442,176 $922,176 $725,544 $815,544 $905,544 $995,544
5 4 20 122 $3,222,060 $702,060 $670,515 $760,515 $850,515 $940,515
6 5 3 141 $2,864,460 $344,460 $581,115 $671,115 $761,115 $851,115
7 6 2 175 $2,723,288 $203,288 $545,822 $635,822 $725,822 $815,822
8 6 20 192 $2,688,644 $168,644 $537,161 $627,161 $717,161 $807,161
9 6 35 207 $2,647,832 $127,832 $526,958 $616,958 $706,958 $796,958
10 7 5 219 $2,625,848 $105,848 $521,462 $611,462 $701,462 $791,462
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