The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2020 season is now in the books. It ended in spectacular fashion — though the wrong kind of spectacular — in a dismal postseason defeat at the hands of the Cleveland Browns, sending them into an early offseason mode after going 12-4 in the regular season and winning the AFC North for the first time in three years.
Since then, they have lost several players in free agency who were key members of the offense and defense. Multiple starters retired, as well. They made few notable additions in free agency, and are banking on contributions on offense from their rookies, as well as perhaps a last ride for Ben Roethlisberger.
The only thing facing them now as they head into 2021 is more questions. Right now, they lack answers. They know that they have Roethlisberger for one more year, but was that even the right decision? How successful can Najee Harris be behind a questionable offensive line? What kind of changes can Matt Canada and Adrian Klemm bring to the offense? And how can the defense retain the status quo with the losses of Bud Dupree, Steven Nelson, and Mike Hilton?
These are the sorts of questions we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football is a year-round pastime and there are always questions to ask, though there is rarely a concrete answer. This is your venue for exploring the topics we present through all of their uncertainty.
Question: What will the Steelers do with the extra cap space that they gained through the release of David DeCastro?
You no doubt are already familiar with the situation. The Steelers saved $8.75 million in cap space with the release of David DeCastro, which is what he was due in base salary for the 2021 season, the final year of his contract.
They used $3 million of that space to sign Trai Turner, so that leaves them with another $5.75 million, minus displacement, that they otherwise wouldn’t have had. Now, does that mean that they’re going to go out and spend another $5 million on free agents?
Let’s just say that’s not very likely. But it does mean that they can explore some options as it concerns depth. They have done some kicking of tires. They were reportedly interested in outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan before he signed, for example, and they brought in safety Malik Hooker for a visit last month, who remains available.
So, where is that money going to go? Might they not even spend it? One approach that they can take is to simply avoid restructuring the contracts of Chris Boswell and Stephon Tuitt later this offseason to provide them what otherwise would be the last bit of cap space they would need. They could also use it to increase T.J. Watt’s 2021 salary cap hit after he signs his new deal, thereby helping to make his future hits slightly lower.