After Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Omar Khan made his media rounds at the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine on Tuesday, it certainly seems all but certain that quarterback Mitch Trubisky will remain with the team through the 2023 season, if not even longer. With Trubisky’s $10.625 million salary cap charge in 2023 potentially being somewhat hard to work around, is it possible that we see him signed to a contract extension in the coming weeks, especially if the plan is to keep him beyond this coming season? Based on all that Khan said on Tuesday, I think that might just be a possibility.
So, what might a contract extension look like for Trubisky that would not only be enticing enough for him to sign, yet help drop his 2023 salary cap charge? Remember, he’s scheduled to earn $8 million in 2023, so outside of a straight pay cut, he’s probably going to want to put at least that amount in his pocket this year.
As things stand right now, Trubisky has $2.625 million in 2022 signing bonus proration on his ledger for 2023. That does not go away and not even if he were to get cut as it would just become dead money. Once again, he is set to earn $8 million in 2023 so for him to agree to any contract extension this offseason, he’s probably going to want to earn at least that this season.
What if the Steelers agreed to give Trubisky $9.25 million in 2023, with $7.875 million of that being a signing bonus, in exchange for him signing a two-year extension that includes a cut in his new money average? $1.375 million of that $9.25 million would be his new 2023 base salary. In short, Trubisky would go from earning $8 million in 2023 to earning $9.25 million, an amount he would be hard-pressed to get from another team this offseason should he be cut by the Steelers.
Below is what Trubisky’s contract would look like based on the variables I have included above. In summation, a new 2023 base salary of $1.375 million with an additional $7.875 million as part of a signing bonus.
Based on my example numbers and parameters, Trubisky would have a new 2023 salary cap charge of $6.625 million, which is exactly $4 million less than it was originally scheduled to be. The Steelers would then have him under contract for two more years in addition to 2023.
Now, based on my example contract above, I have structured Trubisky’s 2024 and 2025 seasons to include base salaries of $4 million and $4.75 million, respectively. Structuring the deal with those two base salaries, combined with the additional $1.25 million that Trubisky would be given in 2023, would make his new money average $5 million. So, Trubisky would stand to earn $18 million over the next three seasons with $10 million being new money for the two seasons beyond 2023.
Now, Trubisky would only be guaranteed the $9.25 million for the 2023 season, and thus should the need arise, he could be cut next offseason. Cutting him before June 1, 2024, however, would result in a dead money charge of $5.25 million. Basically, Trubisky would be virtually guaranteed to be with the Steelers through at least the 2024 season via this sort of an extension.
In closing, if the Steelers really want to retain Trubisky past the 2023 season and the quarterback isn’t interested in taking less money this season, a two-year extension the way I have it illustrated might be the best situation for both sides.
UPDATED TO ADD: I know a few of you will want to see what a full void-year restructure would look like for Trubisky in lieu of my example. In short, turning all but $1.08 million of his $8 million due him into a signing bonus and adding four dummy years. That would result in Trubisky getting his full $8 million in 2023 and his cap charge dropping by $5.536 million. However, such a restructure would produce $5.536 million in 2024 dead money after the contract voided.