Updating the Steelers salary cap situation after signing Kwon Alexander
The Pittsburgh Steelers have almost concluded their business for the 2023 offseason. With training camp underway, there were bound to be some moves in the first week. Since the start of camp, there has been a retirement and two players placed on injured reserve. The Steelers signed one player, Kwon Alexander, whose salary falls in the top 51 and therefore affects the salary cap at this time. While reports came in about the length of 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 third salary cap update here at Steel Curtain Network, I’d like to take a moment one last time to outline how I do things. 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.
Some salary cap money that will be carried through the season by the Steelers which occurred during the first week of training camp starts off with the retirement of Monte Pottebaum. Given a $10k signing bonus on his three-year undrafted rookie free agent contract, the dead money hit for 2023 is $3,333. The other two items come in the form of players placed on the Reserve/Injured List (IR). Cory Trace was placed on IR Wednesday while Alfonso Graham first had to clear waivers and then landed on IR Thursday. Both players have a split contract and, since they are rookies, their base salary is $450k instead of the full $750k. For Trice, he has an additional $21,109 as part of his prorated signing bonus which brings his total to $471,109. While the salaries for the injured players, including out of Renell Wren from earlier this offseason, do not count at this time as they are not in the top 51 salaries, they are an added expense which will kick in when the Steelers cut down to 53 players. For that reason, I am counting them now since the exact amount is known.
Although the Steelers have added a number of players so far in training camp, only one player has a salary that landed in the top 51. Kwon Alexander signed a one-year veteran salary benefit contract with the Steelers where he will have a base salary of $1.165 million but it will only count against the salary cap at $940k. In addition to this, Alexander received the maximum signing bonus for a veteran salary benefit contract of $152,500. For this reason, his salary cap hit for 2023 is $1,092,500 just like Armon Watts, Chandon Sullivan, and Markus Golden.
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 Alexander 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.: Reported $1.748790 million; After displacement+: -$0.80879 million
Kwon Alexander: Reported $1.0925 million; After displacement+: -$0.1525 million
Monte Pottebaum: Dead money from retirement: -$0.003333 million
Cory Trice Jr.: Injured reserve salary: -$0.471109 million
Alfonzo Graham: Injured reserve salary: -$0.45 million
Approximate salary cap space: Approximately $9.4 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 $10,818,301 under the salary cap. OTC has everything I have listed above outside of players going on IR. This is because these salaries are 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 $9,525,642 under the cap as they do not have Alexander’s contract at this time. 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 and an incorrect amount for Monte Pottebaum. 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.
Check out a complete rundown of the Steelers salary cap (Note: the estimate for Alexander’s contract was correct as the episode was published before numbers were reported) and the best way to handle things moving forward on the latest episode of the Steelers Stat Geek podcast:
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