5 potential salary restructures for the 2024 Steelers
The Pittsburgh Steelers are headed toward the 2024 NFL league year in March, and as the Steelers roster currently stands, they are projected to be over this year’s salary cap. The exact amount the Steelers are over is arbitrary as the exact 2024 salary cap or the Steelers carryover from this past season have yet to be determined. But the Steelers are not currently ready to be cap compliant but don’t have to worry about the issue for quite some time.
When it comes to creating cap space, there are three main tools used in order to move around the money. The Steelers could simply release a player and take the dead money hit while saving the players base salary for the season. Another option is the Steelers could restructure the contract of players who have more than one season remaining on their deal. Finally, for those players who only have one year left who the Steelers would like to retain, they could work out a contract extension which would drop their 2024 salary cap number.
When looking at the Steelers current 2024 players under contract, there are potential cap savings in all of these categories. Looking at them one by one, first up was players who would be released as cap casualties. Next are the players the Steelers could restructure their contracts if they so choose.
Here are the top five players who are most likely to be considered for a salary restructure for the 2024 season. These players are not listed in the order of their likelihood but by how much they could save for 2024 if fully restructured. Remember, it is possible players could end up in multiple groups as we work through the different categories.
Cap Number: $30,418,694
Potential Savings: $9,920,000
Although T.J. Watt tops this list because he could potentially bring the most salary cap savings with a restructure, his contract might be the least attractive of any to do so. The reason for this is Watt only has two years left on his deal. Because of this, anything that the Steelers restructure this season gets 100% pushed to next season. While it would be nice to see T.J. Watt sit more around a $20 million cap hit for this year rather than $30 million, seeing next year at $40 million looks even worse. Add in the fact the Steelers could have restructured Watt last year to spread the money out over to future seasons but they chose not to because it wasn’t necessary, I don’t think the Steelers touch this contract unless they are desperate for the money.
Cap Number: $21,355,000
Potential Savings: $8,916,667
With the third-highest salary cap hit currently on the Steelers roster, Minkha Fitzpatrick has three years left on his deal which would put him in a position for a restructure that wouldn’t destroy the Steelers future. But Minkah is basically one year behind what the Steelers are doing with T.J. Watt because he has an additional year remaining. Fitzpatrick was restructured last year with four years remaining just like Watt was the previous season. I think the Steelers will look at Fitzpatrick contract much like they did last season with Watt where they could save close to $9 million which would spread out to about $4.5 million more as a cap number in 2025 and 2026. I just believe the Steelers will look elsewhere first and use Fitzpatrick as a safety net if they need it as the season approaches.
Cap Number: $13,933,000
Potential Savings: $7,206,000
Being the contract which extends the longest into the future, I believe the first player the Steelers would restructure this offseason would be Alex Highsmith. While it is not as much as the $10 million they saved last year by restructuring Fitzpatrick, saving $7 million with Highsmith would not destroy his future cap hits because it would only add $2.4 million over each of the next three seasons.
Cap Number: $13,283,333
Potential Savings: $4,270,000
Although I think the likelihood of the Steelers restructuring Larry Ogunjobi is small, he’s included on the list simply because he could save over $4 million. But much like T.J. Watt, Ogunjobi only has one additional year on his contract beyond 2024 and every dollar saved this season shows up as a dollar spent next year. If the Steelers need the money they can do it, but it is more difficult to do than some of the other deals.
Cap Number: $4,720,000
Potential Savings: $1,273,333
While there are other players who could save the Steelers more money by restructuring than Chris Boswell, they were passed up due to only having a contract through 2025 where Boswell goes the extra year into 2026. Although it’s just under $1.3 million the Steelers would save, it still keeps Boswell‘s cap hit in 2025 and 2026 under $5.4 million. So if the Steelers need a little bit of cash, this is one that wouldn’t surprise me if it happens.
So here are my most likely candidates to be considered for a potential restructure for the 2024 season. While there are other names would could be possibilities such as Isaac Seumalo, Cole Holcomb, and Mith Trubisky, their savings are both less than the above players (other than Boswell) and they only have one additional year left on their deal beyond 2024 in order to spread out the money, making the hit be all pushed into 2025. While there is the possibility of a restructure or two from the players above, I actually look for more of the Steelers salary cap savings to come from cuts and extensions.
Make sure you check back to Steel Curtain Network for the players who could be in line for a contract extension.