The Pittsburgh Steelers aren’t often significant players in free agency. In 2022, they can be. As of now, they have about $27 million in cap space, and they still have a number of tools at their disposal, including restructures and contract terminations, to create a good deal more. They also have quite a lot of holes and are in the midst of the biggest change in decades.
It all makes for potentially interesting viewing at a time when most seasoned Steelers fans have rightly been trained to have low expectations. Peter King of Football Morning in America sees this year potentially being different, and listed them as one of five notable teams heading into the start of the new league year—he even offered a trade proposal:
“Still think this is a great spot for Jimmy Garoppolo”, he wrote in his weekly column. “May I broker a trade: Garoppolo from Niners to Steelers for a 2023 second-rounder that would become a first if Garoppolo is active for 15 games or more next fall”.
While Garoppolo’s name has widely circulated when it comes to the Steelers’ next potential starting quarterback, that is a higher price tag than we often see. Tom Brady’s former backup is often seen as being on the low end of established starters, and the San Francisco 49ers evidently agreed when they decided to use a first-round pick on a quarterback last year.
Would Pittsburgh even have to give up a conditional second-round draft pick in order to get him? As always, of course, it depends upon the market, but I question how willing they are to carry his $25.6 million in 2022 compensation into the start of the new league year, or much further.
As of this writing, according to Over the Cap, San Francisco is currently nearly $10 million over the cap, though they can gain substantial cap relief by restructuring the contracts of players like Arik Armstead, George Kittle, Trent Williams, and Jimmie Ward.
Still, that Garoppolo contract is low-hanging fruit. They could clear $25.5 million in salary cap space in 2022 by moving him, either via trade or simply cutting him. It is frankly hard to envision them carrying him much longer and not moving on with Trey Lance as their quarterback.
As we have seen this offseason, deals can happen quickly—and, as a reminder, none of them have officially happened yet, as trades cannot be officially submitted before the start of the new league year, so that means Russell Wilson is still a Seahawk for now.
Nobody understands how quickly things move than reporters. Dan Graziano and Jeremy Fowler combined for an extensive Insider published yesterday morning detailing all of the information they have learned up to that point. By the end of the evening, much of it became irrelevant, with speculation about Kirk Cousins being moved or Buccaneers interest in this or that quarterback.
In other words, don’t be surprised if Garoppolo has a new home by the end of the day, or any day now. It’s likely only a matter of time. And that new home very well could be Pittsburgh. The question is, what would it cost to get him?