Just days away from the start of the 2022 regular season, first-year Pittsburgh Steelers GM Omar Khan continues to tinker with the roster and the salary cap.
That tinkering continued Wednesday as Khan and the Steelers restructured the contract of star outside linebacker T.J. Watt, according to NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport, freeing up $6.75 million in cap space.
Watt’s contract restructure is the second in recent days to be done at the outside linebacker position. After acquiring veteran Malik Reed from the Denver Broncos in a trade last week, the Steelers restructured Reed’s contract after Reed agreed to a reworked deal that now includes a base value of $1.5 million, down from $2.433 million.
Watt is in the first full year of his massive four-year contract extension with the Steelers worth $112 million, including $80 million guaranteed. Watt was scheduled to a base salary of $24 million in 2022, but the Steelers essentially rolled $9 million of his $24 million base salary into a signing bonus to create $6.75M in cap space, which then adds $2.25M in pro-rated money to each of the remaining four seasons in his contract. His base salary is reduced to $15 million for the 2022 season. With $2.25 million added to his outstanding $7,118,694 in pro-rated signing bonus money, that creates a final cap hit for the 2022 season of $24,368,694, a reduction from $31,118,694.
According to Dave Bryan, Watt’s restructure now gives the Steelers $8,935,365 in cap space entering the 2022 season, possibly enough wiggle room for emergencies that the Steelers have historically liked to have entering a season.