Steelers Contract Look-Back: Kordell Stewart’s 1999 Extension

During the post-draft time of the offseason, I often find myself going back and examining lucrative deals that were signed by members of the Pittsburgh Steelers over the course of the last 25 years. It takes a lot of research to do that, but it’s a fun offseason hobby of mine just the same. Today, I would like to show you some of that research, especially with there being a very lucrative contract signed by a former member of the Steelers exactly 24 years ago today. The player I am talking about today is none other than former Steelers quarterback Kordell Stewart.

On May 13, 1999, the Steelers officially announced that Stewart had signed a three-year contract extension through the 2003 season. As part of that extension, Stewart received an $8.1 million signing bonus. The total for the five years was $27 million, representing $22.45 million in new money above the deal he had previously signed, which still had two years remaining on it.

Below is a layout of Stewart’s contract following his extension.

It’s important to reemphasize that when Stewart signed his extension, he did so with $4.55 million remaining on his previous contract. That called for him to earn base salaries of $2.05 million and $2.5 million in 1999 and 2000, respectively. In short, Stewart’s new money average after signing his extension on May 13, 1999, was $7,483,333. To put that into perspective, the Steelers’ backup quarterback, Mitch Trubisky, currently has a new money average of $7,412,500.

Now, Stewart’s extension had pretty much been agreed to since the end of April. However, neither side reportedly wanted to make it official until Stewart’s agent, Leigh Steinberg, returned from his London vacation.

Here’s another interesting aspect related to Stewart’s extension. Prior to signing it, Stewart’s scheduled salary cap charge for the 1999 season was $2,712,500. At that time, the Steelers reportedly had about $1 million left under the salary cap, which was $57.288 million in 1999, according to Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. In short, the Steelers needed to get Stewart’s extension done without using more salary cap space. As it turned out, Stewart’s 1999 salary cap charge decreased by $30,000 as a result of his extension.

After signing his 1999 extension, Stewart failed to see the final year of it as he was cut in February 2003, ahead of him being scheduled to earn $6.3 million that coming season. His contract termination resulted in a 2003 dead money charge of $1.62 million.

From 1999-2002, Stewart completed 686 of his 1,172 total pass attempts for 7,588 yards with 37 touchdowns and 35 interceptions. He also rushed for 1,422 yards and 16 touchdowns on 273 total attempts during those four seasons in addition to catching nine passes for another 113 yards and a touchdown.

Stewart led the Steelers to a 13-3 regular season record in 2001 and the team made it to the AFC Championship game that year. He was also voted to the Pro Bowl that season.

Looking back, Stewart’s contract extension that he signed in 1999 was a fair one for both sides. It obviously would’ve looked much better this many years later had the Steelers beaten the New England Patriots in the 2001 AFC Championship game and had ultimately gone on to win the Super Bowl that year.

If you have any suggestions for any other past contracts that you would like to see broken down this offseason, let me know in the comments below.

Previous post in this series can be found here.

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