It’s been a very busy week for the Pittsburgh Steelers and with the first weekend of the 2023 NFL league year upon us, it’s time to recap where the team sits from a salary cap perspective.
As we enter Saturday afternoon, the Steelers weeks’ worth of roster manipulation has included them re-signing two of their own unrestricted free agents in addition to signing four outside unrestricted free agents. Those six players who inked new contracts this past week include safety Damontae Kazee, defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi, cornerback Patrick Peterson, inside linebacker Cole Holcomb, guard Nate Herbig, and inside linebacker Elandon Roberts. Additionally, the Steelers terminated the contract of inside linebacker Myles Jack this past week and restructured the contract of safety Minkah Fitzpatrick.
Of the moves listed above, we have the exact figures related to all of them except for Ogunjobi. That said, enough details about the Ogunjobi three-year-contract that he signed on Friday are known so that a projected 2023 salary cap charge of around $4.5 million can be expected. Using that projected cap number for Ogunjobi, we can paint a very good picture of where the Steelers now sit salary cap-wise as they enter the second wave of free agency.
I currently have the Steelers projected to be $14,385,818 under the cap as we await the exact details of the Ogunjobi contract. If my amount is off, it won’t be off by much. That amount also includes the annual NFL workout bonus placeholder amount.
To paint a better picture for you, the Steelers entered the start of the 2023 NFL league year on Wednesday $10,409,318 under the cap. The Fitzpatrick contract restructure cleared $10.065 million in cap space while the Jack contract termination cleared $7.13 million more after top 51 roster displacement took place. The two re-signings and four outside signings essentially used $13,218,500 in total salary cap space.
Now that the we have the Steelers projected to be $14,385,818 under the cap, where do they go from here? Well, as you can see in the table of projected data below, it’s still expected that the team will restructure the contract of outside linebacker T.J. Watt at some point during the offseason. That essentially means that there should be an additional $12,613,333 in 2023 salary cap space created at some point. Watt will likely be the only other player besides Fitzpatrick to have his contract restructured.
Assuming Watt is ultimately restructured at some point, I have the Steelers projected as having $5,049,009 in effective salary cap space they can use moving forward. That number, however, does not account for any future contract terminations or extensions that could occur moving forward toward the start of the 2023 regular season. It’s also important to remember that the Steelers are likely to sign outside linebacker Alex Highsmith to a contract extension at some point before Week 1. Doing so would result in him using some of that available salary cap space.
The Steelers can still get quite a bit done this offseason when it comes to available salary cap space. For starters, I think there’s a good chance we’ll see them sign a lower-level free agent tackle in the next week or so. Additionally, all eyes will be on the team potentially signing street free agent outside linebacker Bud Dupree in the next few weeks. A new tackle and Dupree would likely each carry 2023 cap charges of $3 million or less.
Beyond another tackle and potentially Dupree being added, the Steelers should be able to re-sign several more of their own unrestricted free agents to extremely cheap deals in the coming days and weeks. Usually, we see the team re-sign several of their own unrestricted free agents to veteran benefit contracts during an offseason and those barely use any available salary cap space following top 51 roster displacement occurring.
For the most part, I think it’s safe to say that the bulk of the Steelers’ free agent and early offseason work is now done and especially when it comes to higher average yearly value contracts. There will be more moves, however, and I will recap them all and their impact on the team’s 2023 salary cap situation as I always do and in a timely manner.