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Updating the Steelers salary cap situation after signing Joey Porter Jr.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have almost concluded their business for the 2023 offseason. With training camp only days away, there were a few items on the agenda that needed to get finished. One such order of business was a contract extension for Alex Highsmith. While reports came in about the deal, it can sometimes take some time to know the exact financials within the contract. Relying heavily on reliable salary cap websites such as overthecap.com (OTC) or spotrac.com, when they are able to report a player’s contract numbers over the specific years I then update the salary cap situation with a more precise number.

Being this is only the second salary cap update here at Steel Curtain Network, I’d like to take a moment to outline how I do things one more time. I start just ahead of the league year with what I believe to be the Steelers salary cap space for the upcoming season. I get to a number based on several sources, but it usually falls in line with OTC when I view any causes for discrepancy. Then as every move is made, I keep a running tab on how it affects the salary cap. I am including that tab below to show how I get to my specific number.

The last major order of business for the Steelers ahead of 2023 training camp was the signing of Joy Porter Jr. Although his salary cap number was pretty much known ahead of time, it appears that OTC does their estimated first year cap based on all potential bonus money being a signing bonus. According to Aaron Wilson this is how the contract worked out:

Sometimes the Steelers have the bonus money as other bonuses such as roster bonuses in future seasons. Since that doesn’t appear to be the case here, Porter has a signing bonus according to OTC of $3,995,160. Prorating that out over four seasons to $998,790 each year, when it is added to his $750k base salary Porter has an estimated salary cap number for 2023 of $1,748,790. With the numbers reported appearing to be mostly in line, I will stick with this amount until any other changes, albeit likely minor, are reported.

Remember, to determine how much each player changes the Steelers’ salary cap space, their cap number must be adjusted due to roster displacement. As a reminder, roster displacement is taking into account only the top 51 contracts for a team count towards the salary cap during the offseason. As a larger contract comes on the books, it bumps a smaller contract out of the top 51. Therefore, it’s only the difference in those contracts that increases the salary cap number.

Here is the approximate breakdown of the Steelers salary cap space after the Highsmith deal by my own calculations. The numbers below are strictly the salary cap hit for each player in 2023.

(NOTE: Unless indicated, all reported salaries displaced a $870k salary.)

Steelers salary cap space heading into free agency: Approximately -$1.4 million

William Jackson III: Saved $12.1875 million salary; After displacement: +$11.3175 million
Carlins Platel: Salary not in the top 51: -$0
Patrick Peterson: Reported $4.225 million; After displacement: -$3.355 million
Damontae Kazee: Reported $2.125 million; After displacement: -$1.255 million
Nate Herbig: Reported $2.54 million; After displacement: -$1.67 million
Cole Holcomb: Reported $2.72 million; After displacement: -$1.85 million
Minkah Fitzpatrick: Saved $10.065 million; No displacement: +$10.065 million
Elandon Roberts: Reported $2.3325 million; After displacement: -$1.4625 million
Myles Jack: Saved $8 million; After displacement: +$7.13 million
Larry Ogunjobi: Reported $4.933333 million; After displacement*: -$4.059333 million
Isaac Seumalo: Reported $4 million; After displacement*: -$2.740582 million
ADJUSTMENT (Dead money clarification): +$0.49333 million
James Pierre: Reported $1.3 million; After displacement*: -$0.401911 million
Le’Raven Clark: Reported $0.99 million; After displacement*: -$0.081194 million
Zach Gentry: Reported $1.232 million; After displacement+: -$0.2925 million
Keanu Neal: Reported $1.54 million; After displacement+: -$0.6 million
Breiden Fehoko: Reported $0.94 million; After displacement+: -$0
Armon Watts: Reported $1.0925 million; After displacement+: -$0.1525 million
Jamir Jones: No cap savings: +$0
Braden Mann: Reported $1.01 million; After displacement+: -$0.07 million
Tanner Muse: Reported $1.01 million; After displacement+: -$0.07 million
Allen Robinson: Reported $3.0825 million; After displacement+: -$2.1425 million
Chandon Sullivan: Reported $1.0925 million; After displacement+: -$0.1525 million
Arthur Maulet: Saved $2.75 million; After displacement+: +$0.85 million
Cory Trice Jr.: Salary not in the top 51: -$0
Spencer Anderson: Salary not in the top 51: -$0
Nick Herbig: Salary not in the top 51: -$0
Darnell Washington: Reported $0.973438 million; After displacement+: -$0.033438 million
Alfonzo Graham: Salary not in the top 51: -$0
Manny Jones: Salary not in the top 51: -$0
Renell Wren: Injured reserve salary: -$0.475 million
Hakeem Butler: Salary not in the top 51: -$0
Luq Barcoo: Reported $0.94 million; After displacement+: -$0 
Mason Rudolph: Reported $0.94 million; After displacement+: -$0 
Ahkello Witherspoon: Saved $4 million salary; After displacement: +$3.06 million
Dylan Cook: Salary not in the top 51: -$0
Mitch Trubisky: Saved $4.613334 million; No displacement: +$4.613334 million
Toby Ndukwe: Salary not in the top 51: -$0
Tae Crowder: Saved $1.01 million salary; After displacement+: +$0.07 million
Emeke Egbule: Saved $1.01 million salary; After displacement+: +$0.07 million
Master Teague: Salary not in the top 51: +$0
Marcus Golden: Reported $1.0925 million; After displacement+: -$0.1525 million
Scott Nelson: Salary not in the top 51: +$0
Nick Kwiatoski: Salary not in the top 51: -$0
Rex Sunahara: Salary not in the top 51: -$0
Anthony Miller: Salary not in the top 51: +$0
Keeanu Benton: Reported $1.333295 million; After displacement+: -$0.393295 million
Broderick Jones: Reported $3.022975 million; After displacement+: -$2.082975 million
Alex Highsmith: Added $1.467 million; No displacement: -$1.467 million
Joey Porter Jr.: Estimated $1.748790 million; After displacement+: -$0.80879 million

Approximate salary cap space: Approximately $10.5 million

*The salaries displaced by these four contracts were $874,000 (Jaylen Warren), $876,084 (Calvin Austin III), $898,089 (Mark Robinson), and $908,806 (Connor Heyward).

+The salaries displaced by these contracts are $940,000.

So where does this number compare to those reported by the major salary cap websites?

According to overthecap.com (OTC), the Steelers are $11,782,924 under the salary cap. OTC has everything I have listed above outside of the Porter signing, and they did not subtract the money from Renell Wren going on IR. This is because his salary is not in the top 51 at this time, but it will count for the Steelers throughout the season. Otherwise we have the same amount.

Another credible salary cap website is spotrac.com, which has the Steelers at $10,836,432 under the cap as they also do not have Porter’s contract at this time. Spotrac has Wren’s full contract counting against the cap instead of the split contact amount. Also, Spotrac does not have the offseason workouts counting against the salary cap and their dead money amount is incorrect as they still have a dead cap hit for Joe Haeg. Additionally, Spotrac counts the potential dead money hit for players not in the top 51 even though it does not need to count against the cap at this time until those players are officially released.

While the Steelers are going to need cap space for a number of things this offseason, it doesn’t have to be at this time. The Steelers will need as much as an additional $13 million come September when they need to account for all 53 players on the roster (about $1.7 million), sign their practice squad (between $3.5 million and $4.4 million), and have some carryover in order to do business throughout the year (about $7 million).

Does something not make sense? Curious about any of the specifics? Leave your questions in the comments below and I will check in and do my best to answer them.

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