The Pittsburgh Steelers terminated the contract of cornerback William Jackson III on Friday and that move now has the team easily under the salary cap for the 2023 league year, which gets underway on Wednesday at 4:00 p.m. ET. Additionally, defensive back Carlins Platel was waived on Friday but that transaction did not impact the team’s Rule of 51 number. With those two Friday moves now know, we can update the Steelers’ 2023 salary cap situation as we sit in the last weekend of the 2022 NFL league year.
The termination of Jackson’s contract on Friday, in a move that’s been expected all offseason, resulted in the Steelers clearing $12,187,500 in 2023 salary cap space prior to his displacement in the team’s Rule of 51. Specifically, that displacement created $11,317,500 in 2023 salary cap space. The Steelers entered Friday $908,182 OVER the cap and they are now $10,409,318 UNDER the cap as a result of Jackson’s contract being terminated. That amount does include the annual NFLPA workout bonus placeholder charge of $849,600 as well.
So, what happens next? Will we see more contract terminations prior to Wednesday at 4:00 p.m. ET? While more terminations can’t be ruled out, one would think that Friday’s transactions would have been longer if the team had intentions on moving on from other players prior to Wednesday. That noted, perhaps the Steelers are attempting a last ditch effort to trade a player or two that is on their cut list. In short, we won’t know for sure until Wednesday rolls around what the final contract termination count is.
Several contract restructures around the NFL were reported on Friday and obviously none of those included players from the Steelers having their deals reworked. Even so, there’s still a chance that either outside linebacker T.J. Watt or safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, or even both, have last minute contract restructures performed prior to Wednesday. That’s not a deadline, however, as the team could have plans to do restructures on one or both later in the summer. As I have stated all offseason, I think both Watt and Fitzpatrick will have contract restructures done prior to Week 1 of the 2023 regular season. As to when, however, it’s hard to give definitive speculation.
As of Friday night, we have also yet to hear about any restricted free agent tenders issued by the Steelers. Perhaps by Monday night those will be known. The candidates for such Right of First Refusal tenders are cornerback James Pierre, wide receiver Steven Sims and center J.C. Hassenauer. The deadline for teams to issue restricted free agent tenders this year is Wednesday at 4:00 p.m. ET.
While it won’t happen until after the 2023 NFL Draft takes place, the Steelers will need to be able to absorb their rookie class under the salary cap as the offseason and the signings of those players take place. Currently, the estimated cap space that will be needed to accommodate the team’s seven draft selections is roughly $4,374,942. That amount could go up or down depending on if the team trades up or down during the 2023 NFL Draft.
As of Friday night, the Steelers now have 57 players under contract for the 2023 NFL league year. The team also has a running 2023 dead money amount of $8,028,814, which has already been accounted for in my numbers above.
I will pass along the next salary cap update after the next move or moves are made by the team.