Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert recently indicated in an interview with Missi Matthews of steelers.com that the team is now likely done in free agency. That’s not overly surprising, however, as the team is now once again very close to the salary cap limit after signing free agents Derek Watt, Stefen Wisniewski and Eric Ebron, in addition to acquiring Chris Wormley via a trade. So, just how much salary cap space do the Steelers have left as of Thursday afternoon?
First, you should probably know that the NFLPA is finally updating their league salary cap page once again as of Wednesday. The new update confirms several totals that we already knew and published on this site. First, the Steelers rolled over $3,081,389 in unused salary cap from 2019. Second, a 2020 cap credit of $92,235 has also been applied. Third, the NFLPA currently has the Steelers with 64 players under contract for the 2020 season and $11,315,447 under the salary cap.
The NFLPA update, however, is currently behind six players who have reportedly signed with the team as they are waiting for those contracts to be submitted. Those six players are Watt, Wisniewski, Ebron and the three former XFL players that were reported on Wednesday as signing with the team.
The three former XFL players aren’t important for salary cap accounting purposes, however, as all three likely agreed to deals for the minimum, which would put them all outside of the Rule of 51. The signings of Watt, Wisniewski and Ebron, however, do impact the current NFLPA salary cap numbers.
Let it be known that while we have the contract details in for Watt and Wisniewski, the official Ebron numbers and breakdown have yet to surface. In short, that leaves us in a position where we must speculate what his 2020 salary cap charge is. I project that 2020 salary cap charge amount to be roughly $4 million. EDIT: Ebron numbers now in and table and info has been adjusted.
Below is a line-by-line breakdown of my projected look at where the Steelers are currently at salary-cap wise with all outstanding signings accounted for. My projection has the Steelers at nearly $5.8 million under the salary cap and that includes the OTA workout debt placeholder charge being accounted for. In full disclosure, I have an error of $3,327 somewhere in my accounting that I am looking to find and rectify. However, with that number being so low, it’s insignificant in the grand scheme.
|Projected Steelers 2020 Salary Cap Space (3/26/2020)|
|NFL Salary Cap||$198,200,000|
|OTA Workout Debt||$676,800|
|Top 51 Rule Contracts||$185,924,221|
|Estimated Cap Space||$5,781,141|
So, what’s next for the Steelers?
Personally, I think you’ll see the team sign a few more former XFL players, none of which should impact the team’s salary cap. While Colbert seemed to have had recently indicated that the team is likely done in free agency, there is room to add another few on the cheap should thy choose to. Even so, we can probably count on the team being done signing free agent players with 2020 cap charges more than a million at this point.
As I previously posted, the Steelers are projected to need right around one million in salary cap space to afford their currently scheduled six draft picks and the signing bonuses of their undrafted free agents they choose to sign. Another $1.632 million needs to go toward an eventual 12-man practice squad and at least another $1.22 million needs to go toward the 52nd and 53rd roster spots. The draft class, practice squad and final two roster spots speaks for an additional $3.852 million in cap space being needed later in the offseason. The team will also likely want to enter the regular season with about $5-$7 million in available salary cap space to use for in-season moves and injury replacements.
At some point, Steelers defensive lineman Cameron Heyward is likely to sign a contract extension. When and if he does, such an extension could result in roughly $3 million or so in 2020 salary cap savings. Additionally, the Steelers are hoping to sign outside linebacker Bud Dupree to an extension by the July 15 deadline to do so as well. If that happens, the Steelers might can free up an additional $6 million or so in 2020 salary cap space.
If need be, the Steelers can restructure the contracts of David DeCastro, Stephon Tuitt or Vince Williams much later in the offseason should they need extra salary cap space. Even so, I’m betting they don’t want to do anymore restructures if they can help it as six in total have already been done so far this offfseason.