What will the Pittsburgh Steelers do regarding their salary cap? The most important thing to keep in mind right now is that our long-term projections aren’t relevant until September. In other words, they can do things now while reckoning with the consequences at a later date before they become absolutely necessary.
They don’t have much of any space right now as we speak, but that will change through a variety of means over the course of the next two weeks. Indeed, general manager Omar Khan feels unusually good about where they sit right now in that respect.
“We’re obviously in a lot better shape than we’ve been in the past”, he said at the NFL Scouting Combine yesterday during his local media availability session. “There were years where we’ve had to…do some things. We’re comfortable, and if there’s an opportunity to improve our team somewhere, we can make things happen and sign. There’s nothing that’s gonna be holding us back”.
They will have to do things this year, of course, though many of those things won’t hurt much. The easiest axe to fall will be releasing cornerback William Jackson III, who never played a snap for the team and is owed eight digits in 2023.
Everybody in the league had some cap hardships in recent years due to the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, which saw the salary cap actually go backward the following year due to the loss of in-stadium revenue. The Steelers definitely had to make some tough decisions at that time.
They shouldn’t have to do anything that they truly don’t want to this time around, however. Any moves they make will be strategic based on personnel choices that they’re comfortable with. If they wanted to move on from Myles Jack, for example, that would largely be a football decision, even if informed by salary cap desires.
Pittsburgh was never going to be a major mover in free agency this year regardless of the salary cap situation, but there are also extensions to consider. And of course, they will focus on their own pending free agents.
The two they would most likely prioritize above all are cornerback Cameron Sutton and defensive lineman Larry Ogunjobi, a couple of starters on that side of the ball. They will also have to figure out who their starting inside linebackers are going to be, and at least one of Terrell Edmunds and Damontae Kazee should be expected to return at safety.
Now, will much of the fan base agree with Khan’s assessment that the Steelers are currently in a “comfortable” spot with their cap? Probably not. But the front office isn’t going to operate the way the more active movers in free agency will. Largely because they have talent they’re already paying. Teams with a lot of cap space are typically low on talent.