The 2021 NFL schedule was released last Wednesday. On the heels of that monumental annual event happening, there is now 16 weeks remaining before the first regular season game will be played. To get technical, 112 more days. Within that 112 days, however, the Pittsburgh Steelers still have quite a bit to get accomplished. Below is a quick outline of things you can probably count on happening before the team starts their 2021 regular season schedule.
Addition Of More Experienced Free Agents: As I pointed out Wednesday afternoon, the history of the Steelers dating back to 2012 easily leads us to believe that the team will be adding two or more experienced players to their offseason roster prior to the team’s Week 1 road game against the Buffalo Bills. A quick glance at the Steelers’ current 90-man roster makes it easy to fathom that the team might still add an outside linebacker, tight end, and safety between now and the start of the 2021 regular season. Whatever players are ultimately added by the Steelers in the next 16 weeks, we could see at least one acquired via a trade. This team needs more experienced depth at several positions, and I believe you can count on Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert addressing those areas in the coming weeks and months. In fact, I will be shocked if at least two players aren’t added in the next 112 days that wind up on the team’s Week 1 roster for the road opener against the Bills.
Restructure Tuitt, Boswell Contracts: The Steelers currently have right around $9 million in available 2021 salary cap space at the time of this post, with their top three draft picks this year still yet to be signed. While $9 million might seem like a lot of cap space at this point of the offseason, it’s all already spoken for thanks to predictive forthcoming costs the team will have in the next six weeks. Remember, the Steelers still need to sign their three most expensive draft picks, a full practice squad, and afford a 52nd and 53rd player between now and Week 1. Additionally, you can probably count on the team needing a good $7 million in available salary cap space to start the season to cover all in-season needs. That’s roughly $12.3 million in expected costs. In short, expect the Steelers to still do full contract restructures on defensive end Stephon Tuitt and kicker Chris Boswell closer to the start of the regular season. Those two moves will free up a little more than $5 million in 2021 salary cap space.
Watt Contract Extension: You are fooling yourself if you are one of the many out there right now that are convinced that the Steelers will wait until 2022 to get outside linebacker T.J. Watt locked up long-term. Watt, who is currently scheduled to earn $10.089 million in 2021 as part of his fifth-year option being exercised a little more than a year ago, will most definitely sign a super-lucrative contract extension later this summer and likely after training camp gets underway. That extension for Watt could and should result in him being the highest-paid defensive player in the NFL, which means a new money average of at least $28 million and maybe even as much as $30 million. The main chore associated with signing Watt to such an extension is doing so that the outcome is his current 2021 cap charge of $10.089 million not increasing much, if any. It can and will get worked out. Just like most of these Steelers long-term lucrative deals, it will be later in the summer before it happens.