The Pittsburgh Steelers’ financial health has continued to improve this week, and for the third time this off-season, they have done nothing to make it happen. You didn’t have to cut off a player or renew a contract to lower the salary cap.
When the NFL announced an increase in the cap floor to at least $ 180 million on Thursday, it gave the Steelers an additional $ 5 million of leeway to be compliant by the start of the new league year on March 17.
As of Thursday, General Manager Kevin Colbert, like his other 31 colleagues, was working on a 2021 cap of no less than $ 175 million. For a team that entered the off-season with roughly $ 215 million in cap liabilities, the minimum wage increase was welcomed.
That announcement came after the Steelers received much-needed Cap Relief with the resignation of Center Maurkice Pouncey and Vance McDonald. This resulted in a total savings of $ 13.2 million.
The Steelers were also allowed to roll nearly $ 5 million in unused cap dollars as of 2020, which is another move for financial aid.
Although Colbert is currently working below the estimate of $ 180 million, others expect the upper limit to be in the range of $ 185 million. Factor in the cap rollover, and the Steelers could have around $ 190 million in cap spending. However, on the spotrac.com website to track the salary cap, the Steelers will have to drop an additional $ 14 million to be compliant with the $ 185 million cap model by March 17.
“We’re trying to prepare for the worst of the situation,” Colbert said on Wednesday, a day before the cap floor rose. “We will always work in this way of thinking. We will play different scenarios and put together different scenarios in case this is what we are dealing with and we will try to estimate what a given player could cost us, betting that it is our own player or someone else . ”
Additional space would have to be created if the Steelers want to keep one of their 19 unrestricted free agents or poke holes in the roster with outside free agents. And they would have to free up money to sign a seven-person design class, which could increase to nine if compensatory picks are awarded.
“We know we’re against it,” said Colbert. “We knew we would be up against it in a normal year, and we were ready to do the things we did through freelance agency, renewals, renegotiations, etc. to get where we are comfortable and it would try make us healthy again in 2021. ”
When many of these decisions were made in the 2020 off-season – like signing Eric Ebron, full-backs Derek Watt and Stefen Wisniewski, and handing over the franchise tag to external linebacker Bud Dupree – no one could have predicted how drastic the coronavirus pandemic would drive stadium revenues would lower.
Based on the previous year’s revenue stream, the salary cap could realistically have increased from $ 198 million in 2020 to $ 210 million this year. Instead, it has plummeted and left several NFL teams in dire straits, including the Steelers. Spotrac.com predicts the Steelers will have the fifth worst salary cap of the 32 teams.
“Obviously we have all suffered a loss from the pandemic and we are going to have to deal with it accordingly, and we will,” Colbert said. “It’s not unique to us. There are probably two-thirds of the league facing similar problems. We’ll keep looking at how this all comes together over the next few weeks. ”
The easiest way for the Steelers to get below the salary cap would be if quarterback Ben Roethlisberger retires. That would save $ 19 million. Roethlisberger has expressed interest in returning for an 18th season, but team presidents Art Rooney II and Colbert have said the only way that will happen is to make the quarterback $ 41.25 million liable to reduce.
Restructuring or renewing contracts that would reduce a player’s cap liability in 2021 is another avenue the Steelers will ponder, as well as the difficult decision of whether to let a high-paid player out. Inside linebacker Vince Williams and cornerback Joe Haden are potential cap victims.
Defenders Cameron Heyward and Stephon Tuitt and kicker Chris Boswell are among the players whose contracts could be restructured to increase the cap for 2022, a year the Steelers only have about $ 56 million in pay obligations.
“We have to monitor this continuously and work on it every day,” said Colbert, “because it actually changes every day.”
Joe Rutter is a contributor to Tribune Review. You can contact Joe by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter.
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