You have to be extremely careful what you read these days and especially when it comes to information on the Pittsburgh Steelers. I have observed several Pittsburgh media outlets and blogs that attempt to cover the team pass along so much misinformation these last few weeks when it comes to the Steelers’ salary cap situation that it makes my head hurt. One specific area where there is a ton of misinformation concerning the Steelers’ 2022 salary cap situation revolves around how much space the team will need to accommodate this year’s draft class being signed. With that, let me lay out the facts.
Currently, the Steelers are scheduled to have seven selections in the 2022 NFL Draft. Thanks to the fine folks at Over the Cap, we already have a very good idea as to what those seven contracts should look like for those players, assuming the Steelers stand pat with their current selections. You can see the layout of the 2022 projected structure for all seven picks below. This layout includes the base salary amount, signing bonus proration amount and total cap charge amount for 2022. It’s pretty straight forward.
Now, the total of the cap charges for those seven selections is projected to be $8,265,416 and that’s the number you see passed around on other sites when it comes to how much salary cap room the Steelers will need to accommodate the complete signing of the draft class. Well, that’s not how it works.
The NFL works off the Rule of 51 during the offseason. That Rule of 51 is the total of the top 51 cap charges a team has plus any bonus proration amounts that fall outside of the top 51. Understood?
For any draft pick contract that does successfully enter the Rule of 51 at signing, it would then displace the contract that is listed 51st. That old 51st ranked contract would then fall outside of the Rule of 51 and the only way any of it counts against the cap is if there is any signing bonus proration included in it.
Currently, $895,000 is the number to top to get into the Steelers’ Rule of 51 for the 2022 draft class. That amount could obviously change depending on how many more signings or deletions the Steelers have. For now, however, that’s the number to top.
So, as you can see in the chart below, only the Steelers first three scheduled draft picks have projected 2022 cap charge totals that would enter the team’s current Rule of 51. Those three cap charges, which total out at $5,191,759, would displace the three lowest cap charges currently in the Rule of 51. The total of those three lowest charges that those three draft picks would displace is $2,685,000 ($895,000 x 3). So, those three draft picks would eat an additional $2,506,759 ($5,191,759 – $2,685,000) of salary cap space. See how we got that amount?
Now, about those four other draft pick contracts that do not qualify to enter the Rule of 51 at this current time. The prorated portion of those four contracts do need count in the Rule of 51. The total of those four bonus prorations is $253,657. So, if you add that $253,657 to the previous $2,506,759, you get a total of $2,760,416. That $2,760,416 is how much cap space the Steelers will need to account for to sign their complete 2022 draft class as the roster stands currently. That’s a lot different than the $8,265,416 you are seeing reported by the Pittsburgh media and other Steelers blogs.
If you want a lazy way to figure this amount out, just take the total number of draft picks and multiply it by the rookie minimum salary for the year and then subtract it from the projected salary cap total of all draft picks for the given year. In this lazy example, you would multiply seven picks by $705,000 and then subtract that total from $8,265,416. That math works out to $3,330,416, which at least gets you much closer the actual number of $2,760,416.
I hope I have explained this well and helped to clear out the misinformation that’s being circulated by members of the Pittsburgh media and other Steelers’ blogs.