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Updating the Steelers salary cap situation after signing Patrick Queen

The Pittsburgh Steelers are getting ready to kick off the official start of the 2024 league year. With business heating up the last few days, I am ready come make some updates to my numbers for the salary cap availability for the Steelers. 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 (OTC) or, 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.

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.

Since my last update, the expected numbers from Breiden Fehoko have been reported and he has a one-year contract for $1.055 million. With his contract coming in, the salary of the player moved out of the top 51 was $795 K.

On Monday it was reported the Steelers signed punter Cameron Johnston to a three-year deal worth $9 million. The breakdown of Johnston‘s contract for 2024 was a $1.125 million base salary along with a $2.875 million signing bonus. With the bonus prorated over three years at $958,333, Johnston‘s cap number comes in at $2,083,333 and also displaced a salary of $715 K.

The big signing by the Steelers on Tuesday was linebacker Patrick Queen. Signing for the biggest salary of an outside free agent in Steelers history, Queen has reportedly agreed to a three-year contract for $41 million. With the first year seeing a $2.25 million base salary along with an $11.59 million signing bonus split up into each of the three seasons, Queen’s cap number for 2024 is $6,113,333. Based on the order of transactions how I’m looking at the top 51, Queen displaced Cory Trice’s salary of $816,109.

The Steelers also agreed to a trade on Tuesday night sending Diontae Johnson to the Carolina Panthers in exchange for cornerback Donte Jackson. The Steelers also picked up the Panthers sixth-round draft pick in exchange for their seventh-round draft pick in 2024. With these two player swapping teams, there is no roster displacement when taking on their salaries. Diontae Johnson carried a $5,833,334 dead money hit but saves the Steelers $10 million between his base salary and roster bonus. But the salary the Steelers are taking on currently for Donte Jackson is more than what they saved from Diontae Johnson. Jackson has a current cap number based on his base salary and various bonuses of $10,522,500. While I fully expect the Steelers to work out something else with Jackson’s contract much like they did with Allen Robinson last year after he was acquired via trade, this is the number as it stands right now which means the Steelers lost more than half a million dollars in salary cap from the trade. If Jackson does work out a different deal with the Steelers, it will be adjusted whenever it is announced.

One player who has not had his salary reported at the major salary cap websites is quarterback Russell Wilson. It was announced Wilson is joining the Steelers for a veteran minimum deal which is $1.21 million for a player with his years of experience. Although I am using this figure for now as well as the displacement of a $915 K salary, I am anxious to see if Wilson actually has a veteran salary benefit contract. If so, even though Wilson will be paid $1.21 million from Steelers, he would only count $985 K against the salary cap. So while I am playing it safe right now and having Wilson‘s change in the salary cap be just under $0.3 million, it could be as low as $70 K. If so, I will make the adjustment when it is fully reported and not just estimated. But for now, I will take the higher amount into account just to be safe.

Here is the approximate breakdown of the Steelers salary cap space after some of the most recent deals by my own calculations. The numbers below are strictly the salary cap hit for each player in 2024.

Steelers salary cap space heading into free agency: Approximately $24.7 million

Breiden Fehoko: Reported $1.055 million; After displacement: -$0.26 million
Cameron Johnston: Reported $2.083333 million; After displacement: -$1.288333 million
Patrick Queen: Reported $6.113333 million; After displacement: -$5.297224 million
Diontae Johnson: Saves $10 million; No displacement: +$10 million
Donte Jackson: Currently $10.5225; No displacement: -$10.5225 million
Russell Wilson: ESTIMATED $1.21 million; After displacement: -$0.295 million

Approximate salary cap space: Approximately $17 million

So how does my salary cap number compare to those reported by the major salary cap websites?

According to (OTC), the Steelers are $17,325,589 under the salary cap as of Tuesday night. The only thing OTC does not have is the contract for Russell Wilson. Otherwise, we have the exact same number.

Another credible salary cap website is, which has the Steelers at $18,963,933 as of Tuesday night. Differences here are they do not have the salaries for Russell Wilson or Breiden Fehoko. Also, they have a higher rollover amount from 2023 but do not have the offseason workouts counting against the salary cap. 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 $16 million, with $13 million not needed until September. The Steelers are estimated to need about $3 million to sign their rookie class after displacement based on their current draft picks. Expenses in September include when they need to account for all 53 players on the roster (about $1.75 million), sign their practice squad (between $4 million and $4.5 million), and have some carryover in order to do business throughout the year (about $7 million). But even taking these things into effect now, which they do not need to do as there are other moves which could be made to save some cap space, the Steelers have plenty of room in order to be active in free agency.

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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