With it now being late in February, we are obviously now well into the offseason when it comes to the Pittsburgh Steelers and with that, I plan to provide weekly updates when it comes to the team’s 2023 salary cap situation as we inch closer to the start of a new league year on March 15.
This week’s Thursday Steelers’ salary cap update reflects the re-signing of one exclusive rights free agent player to the offseason roster so far this week. That one player re-signed so far this week was none other than long snapper Christian Kuntz. He is scheduled to have a base salaries in 2023 of $940,000 and he entered the Rule of 51 for March 15 because of that.
As of Thursday morning, the Steelers now have 58 players under contract for the start of the new league year. The top 51 salaries of those 58 players equates to $221,186,913 after a few other minor adjustments have been made from previously projected amounts for a few players. The team also has a predicted March 15 dead money amount of $8,028,814 for 2023 as well. That dead money total includes cornerback Cameron Sutton as his current 2023 contract reportedly voided this past Friday. That number could grow before March 15 based on any cuts made in the next few weeks.
Also included in the top 51 cap charges for 2023 are the new projected Proven Performance Escalator raises for outside linebacker Alex Highsmith and guard Kevin Dotson as we now know the exact amounts they should be with the NFL’s 2023 salary cap number now set at $224.8 million. That new base amount for both players should be $2.743 million, which is slightly up from the estimated amount I had previously been using.
It’s worth noting that the 2023 projected salary cap charge for Steelers cornerback William Jackson III needed to be slightly adjusted due to his NLTBE game day roster bonus amount. Jackson, however, is likely to be cut soon. Even so, I try to be as transparent as possible when it comes to any updates in my numbers and even ones that are really negligible in amounts, as was the case with Jackson.
In total, the Steelers Rule 51 number for March 15, which includes all dead money, is now projected to be $229,215,427. The Steelers are currently expected to roll over $4,427,146 in unused 2022 salary cap space. The team is also expected to carry a 2023 offseason workout bonus placeholder charge of $849,600 come March 15. So, based on a 2023 NFL salary cap number of $224.8 million, the Steelers are currently projected to sit $838,181 OVER that number.
Below is a table that reflects the team’s current salary cap snapshot for March 15 based on the 58 players currently under contract for that March 15 date. The table also includes estimated predicted cap costs the Steelers will have much further into the offseason. Additionally, possible future contract restructure savings are also included in the table of data. Don’t get too caught up with the later offseason projections as we sit here just ahead of the start of the 2023 NFL league year. They are included so everyone can see what is projected to be accounted for at some point down the road.
The Steelers can obviously clear quite a bit of additional salary cap space via offseason contract terminations. Heading the list of players that could possibly have their contracts terminated this offseason is the aforementioned Jackson. Doing so would instantly create $12,187,500 in 2023 salary cap space prior to top 51 roster displacement taking place. As written about previously, the team can obviously decide to cut a few other players in the coming weeks, should they so desire. Leading the list of other potential cap casualties, along with Jackson, are quarterback Mitch Trubisky ($8 million), inside linebacker Myles Jack ($8 million), and cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon ($4 million). We should know for sure as to who is staying and going by March 15.
It’s also important to keep in mind that the Steelers are still likely to issue a few restricted free agent tenders in the coming weeks in addition to re-signing their other exclusive rights free agent, outside linebacker Jamir Jones.