The 2023 NFL free agency signings have slowed to a crawl and that’s usually the case after the first full week of a new league year. The Pittsburgh Steelers, however, made another move a few days ago by re-signing one of their own free agents, cornerback James Pierre. With Pierre’s cap charge now presumably known, it’s time to provide another 2023 Steelers salary cap update.
According to the NFLPA salary cap page update on Thursday morning, Pierre’s 2023 cap charge should be $1.3 million, which is a little less than half of what it would have been had he received a Right of First Refusal restricted free agent tender from the team. The Steelers effectively used $430,000 in 2023 salary cap space after top-51 roster displacement takes place by signing Pierre.
With Pierre now entering the Steelers’ offseason Rule of 51, I have the team projected at $10,651,819 under the cap as of Thursday morning. That amount does include the annual workout bonus placeholder amount of $849,600, which had yet to hit the NFLPA salary cap page as of Thursday morning.
As far as future cap expenses go for the Steelers, I have adjusted a few of them slightly down now. With a few potential 2023 draft class members now expected to be pushed outside of the Rule of 51 even after signing their rookie contracts, I have lowered the Steelers’ rookie class offset down to an even $3.7 million, which should come close to covering even the signing bonuses given to the undrafted players. Prior to this change, the projected 2023 draft class offset amount I used was $4,374,942, so I have dropped it nearly $700,000 now thanks to several signings the team made through the first week of the 2023 NFL year.
Additionally, I have dropped the expected 2023 practice squad charge down to an even $4 million, from $4,075,200, mainly because I now view $4 million as the extreme high side for the 2023 16-man unit. It’s also easier to work with even projected numbers at this point of the offseason.
When it comes to my projected $9 million in 2023 salary cap space that the Steelers will likely want to start the season, I am holding firm on that number as that’s roughly the amount with which they have opened their last two seasons. If you are convinced I am over-shooting this amount, that is your right to do so. I, however, prefer to work off trends when it comes to these projections. The same goes for the $3 million Reserved/Injured projected placeholder amount.
As of this 2023 Steelers salary cap update, I have the team with a projected effective usable salary cap space amount of $2,065,152, and that’s after the team finally gets around to restructuring the contract of outside linebacker T.J. Watt prior to Week 1.
What the projected effective usable salary cap space amount does not account for is any future terminations or trades of players that currently sit inside the Rule of 51, which could potentially free up some salary cap space (example: Kevin Dotson). It also does not account for any future contract extensions, which could lower a raise a player’s current 2023 salary cap charge (example: Alex Highsmith).