As expected, the Pittsburgh Steelers finally came to terms on a lucrative contract extension with outside linebacker T.J. Watt ahead of the start of the 2021 regular season. With Watt’s new deal now in place and the numbers associated with it now known, we can start looking ahead at the Steelers 2022 salary cap situation with a little more certainly.
This look ahead at the Steelers 2022 salary cap situation includes a lot of educated projections in addition to actual amounts of salary cap charges for the 39 players that are currently under contract with the team next season. It is important to point out that five of those players currently under contract for the 2022 season, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, tight end Eric Ebron, outside linebacker Melvin Ingram, wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster and cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon all have void dates attached to next season.
With just 39 players currently under contract with the Steelers for the 2022 season, we must build out an estimated top 51. To do so, we need to add 12 placeholders for 12 players. Using a cap charge of $825,000, the base salary for a second-year player in 2022, is a safe and accurate way to build out a projected Rule of 51 from my past experiences. My mock Rule of 51 has a cap charge total of $180,302,771.
The Steelers currently have $188,266 in dead money on the books for 2022 and that number will obviously grow from there. That dead money is accounted for in the table below. The total of the mock Rule of 51 for 2022 is 180491037.
The 2022 offseason workout bonus placeholder amount should be $849,600. I am also projecting that the Steelers will rollover $5 million in unused 2021 salary cap space to 2022.
So, as we sit here at the start of Week 1 of the 2021 regular season, the Steelers, per my educated projections are $31,859,363 under a 2022 ceiling salary cap number of $208,200,000.
The steelers will have a lot of fairly predictable offseason expenses in 2022 and that is the case every year. You can see a breakdown of most those projected expenses below. They total up to be a little more than $17.5 million with $10 million of that being available to the team come Week 1 of the 2022 regular season.
In essence, the Steelers, as we sit here today, effectively have $14,365,563 in projected 2022 salary cap space to work with.
Now, at the very bottom of the table below there is a list of notable players the Steelers can do full restructures on along with the savings each would create if done fully and without any voidable years being added. Watt obviously becomes a heavy candidate for a restructure at some point next offseason should the team need additional salary cap space.
Once again, this 2022 salary cap outlook for 2022 is full of projections. Even so, it should give all of you reading this post a pretty loose guide as to where you can expect the Steelers to be at after the 2021 season ends.
As the 2021 season progresses, I will periodically provide updates on the Steelers 2022 Rule of 51 number along with updated projected numbers.