The Pittsburgh Steelers now have a little less than two weeks remaining before the start of the 2021 NFL league year and now that they have completed the contract adjustment on quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, they should be salary cap compliant to whatever the final number winds up being at this point. On the heels of Roethlisberger contract getting done, Thursday night is a great time to update the team’s current salary cap situation and especially with a lot of bad misinformation still floating around on other blogs that attempt to cover the team.
The biggest unknown still as we sit here a little less than two weeks out from the start of the 2021 league year on March 17 is what the salary cap number will be for all 32 teams. As of right now, the floor number for the 2021 salary cap number has been collectively bargained at $180 million. Some estimates have it coming in a bit higher than that and there is still a tiny chance it comes in as high as $185 million. To be safe, however, we better use $180 million as the possible number for this update exercise.
With veteran center Maurkice Pouncey now on the Reserve/Retired list as of this week, the Steelers now have 53 players under contract for 2021. The team also has $4,950,555 in leftover salary cap space from 2020 that they will be rolling over to 2021. The Steelers Rule of 51 right now is approximately $172,268,010 following the Roethlisberger contract adjustment and their dead money amount, which includes the Pouncey and Vance McDonald amounts, sits at $9,565,459.
Let the record show that I have Chukwuma Okorafor listed as his Proven Performance Escalator salary amount as well. We might as well begin accounting for that higher amount now even though it looks like the NFLPA still isn’t. I ,however, haven’t yet added center J.C. Hassenauer to the signed list yet but that reportedly happened on Thursday. That move will likely be made official on Friday and then hit the NFLPA soon thereafter. Hassenauer will only use up $120,000 in salary cap space after roster displacement takes place.
In total, and as you can see in the salary cap recap table below, the Steelers now sit approximately $3,117,086 under a league-wide salary cap number of $180 million, or $8,117,086 under a cap number of $185 million. Take your pick or split the difference. The main takeaway is that the team should now be salary cap compliant now that Roethlisberger’s contract is done.
So, what is next for the Steelers in these next two weeks? Well, we are still expecting a contract restructure on defensive end Stephon Tuitt and if completed, that would clear $3,962,500 in 2021 salary cap space. If they so choose, the Steelers could do full contract restructures on kicker Chris Boswell and fullback Derek Watt as well and combined that would free up another $1.9275 million in 2021 salary cap space.
Will there be any salary cap casualties in the next two weeks? It doesn’t sound like cornerback Joe Haden is going anywhere, but what about inside linebacker Vince Williams? The Steelers could save $3.34 million in 2021 salary cap space after roster displacement if he is cut in the next few weeks.
It’s hard to tell if the Steelers will extend the contract of any other players in the next two weeks. There are no signs so far that either cornerback Steven Nelson or guard David DeCastro will get extended before the start of the new league year. The team might wait until later in the summer to get one or both of them extended. The same goes for outside linebacker T.J. Watt as he’s due a monster contract later this summer if things go as expected.
We will surely have more frequent updates in the next few weeks as the Steelers are sure to have more moves to process before March 17 arrives.