Steelers Now Over The Cap Ahead Of Start Of 2020 NFL League Year

It’s been a busy 24 hours for the NFL as not only was a new CBA ratified by the players late Saturday night, the league’s salary cap number for 2020 was released not long after on Sunday. So, how did today’s news instantly impact the Pittsburgh Steelers and especially their 2020 salary cap situation? Let’s take a quick look.

As I already posted, the new CBA means the 30 percent rule now goes away and that will make it much easier for the Steelers to create salary cap space for the 2020 season via traditional contract restructures. That’s a huge byproduct for the Steelers from the new CBA and now it will be interesting to see how much restructuring they wind up doing in the next few days and if they’ll be able to get a contract extension done with defensive lineman Cameron Heyward.

As part of the new CBA, minimum salaries will increase immediately for 2020 and below is the table of those figures as listed. As it relates to the Steelers, several players currently under contract for the 2020 season will see instant base salary increases and that in turn will cost the Steelers more cash and more cap space. I estimate that those base salary increases ultimately costs the Steelers almost $2 million in cap space in the Rule of 51.

The NFL also announced the official salary cap number for 2020 and it’s $198.2 million, which is $1.8 million less than what has been speculated for the last several months. In fact, few were speculating that a new CBA could result in the 2020 salary cap being finalized at around $205 million. In short, the salary cap number coming in lower than expected essentially costs the Steelers cap space on Sunday as previous estimations had the 2020 number coming in at $200 million.

One byproduct of the 2020 salary cap number coming in lower than expected is that the franchise and transition tag amounts will also be a little lower than expected. On Sunday, former NFL agent Joel Corry of CBS Sports now projects the linebacker franchise tag amount to be $15.829 million. That amount was previously projected to be $16.266 million.

For whatever it’s worth, Over the Cap now has the franchise tag amount for linebackers projected at $16.12 million. The official amounts should be known very, very soon. This amount for linebackers will be important should the Steelers use the franchise tag on Bud Dupree. In addition to the franchise tag and transition amounts coming in lower than projected, the same goes for the restricted tender amounts and those official numbers should also be released very soon.

So, what does this all mean when it comes to the Steelers and their current salary cap situation? In short, the team is now projected to be over the cap as of Sunday night. Following the increase in minimum salaries as part of the new CBA and the announcement of the 2020 salary cap number being $1.8 million less than originally expected, I currently have the Steelers projected as being $2,274,628 over the cap. Below is a quick breakdown of how I arrived at that number. The number also does not include a projected offseason workout bonus placeholder amount (expected to be roughly $676,800).

Currently, the start of the 2020 league year is still scheduled for March 18 at 4:00 p.m. EST. That means the Steelers will have a lot of business to take care of starting immediately and especially if they are planning to place the franchise tag on Dupree and giving second-round restricted tenders to cornerback Mike Hilton and tackle Matt Feiler.

The Steelers will likely be terminating the contracts of a few players very soon and thus guard Ramon Foster, outside linebacker Anthony Chickillo and even inside linebacker Mark Barron might all be former members of the team within 24 hours from now. We’ll also find out soon if tight end Vance McDonald will have his 2020 option year picked up. The Steelers likely have a few contract restructures ready to be pushed through as well with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger likely heading the list.

Get ready, because it’s going to be a busy next few days for the Steelers assuming the start of the new league year is not pushed back.

Projected Steelers 2020 Salary Cap Space (3/15/2020)
Contracts 63
NFL Salary Cap $198,200,000
Team 2019 Carryover $3,081,389
Team Adjustment $0
Effective Cap $201,281,389
OTA Workout Debt $0
Estimated Top 51 Rule Spending $200,987,055
Practice Squad $0
Injured Reserve $0
Dead Money $2,568,962
Estimated Cap Space -$2,274,628
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