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Updating the Steelers salary cap situation after swapping quarterbacks

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.

First, I want to give an update on 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. At first, Spotrac was reporting his contract as a veteran salary benefit contract which means he will only count $985 K against the salary cap. Later, Spotrac backtracked on the report and now both sites have Wilson counting the $1.21 million which is what I used the last update.

On Wednesday, the Steelers agreed to a two-year, $6.5 million contract with All-Pro special teams captain Miles Killebrew. The contract was exactly what I expected based on his last two-year deal where half the money is paid in each year. For the first year, it’s a $1.21 million base salary and a $2.09 million signing bonus. This puts Killebrew’s cap hit this year at $2.255 million and it displaced at $915 K salary out of the top 51.

Another move on Wednesday with the Steelers re-signing long snapper Christian Kuntz. His deal was for three seasons counting the league minimum each year along with a $325 K signing bonus. I prorating the bonus over the three seasons, Kuntz has a cap number in 2024 of $1,163,333 and displaces a $915 K salary out of the top 51.

On Thursday, the Stteelers brought back defensive lineman Montravius Adams on a two-year deal worth $5.25 million. Adams has a base salary in 2024 of $1.25 million along with a $1.75 million signing bonus. After prorating the bonus over two seasons, Adams has a cap hit number of $2.125 million for 2024 and displaces a $915 K salary.

Getting to the quarterback position, the Steelers traded Kenny Pickett on Friday and traded for Justin Fields on Saturday. The best way to look at these two players is to swap them for each other in the top 51 and not worry about roster displacement. I originally tweeted that Kenny Pickett would cost Steelers more than $1 million after his dead money, but I mistakenly counted his prorated signing bonus for this season twice. In reality, the Steelers actually save just over $131 K against the salary cap by trading Pickett. Although the Steelers have $3,705,602 they must count in dead money for Pickett, his cap hit for this season was set to be $3,836,701. So there is a little bit of savings. As for Justin Fields, the Steelers have to take on his salary which was split exactly between a $1,616,724 base salary and a $1,616,724 roster bonus. This means Fields counts against the Steelers salary cap $3,233,448.

The Steelers have added two other players butt the report of their salaries have not come out yet. Wide receiver Van Jefferson has reportedly signed a one-year deal with the Steelers while safety Deshon Elliott is in Pittsburgh on a two-year deal. Based on the total number from Elliott‘s reported contract of $6 million, he is likely to come in just over $2 million against the cap in 2024. But until exact numbers are reported, neither player will be counted.

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: Reported $1.21 million; After displacement: -$0.295 million
Miles Killebrew: Reported $2.255 million; After displacement: -$1.34 million
Christian Kuntz: Reported $1.163333 million; After displacement: -$0.248333 million
DeShon Elliott: No full report
Montravius Adams: Reported $2.125 million; After displacement: -$1.21 million
Kenny Pickett: Netted gain of $0.131099 million; No displacement: +$0.131099 million
Van Jefferson: No full report
Justin Fields: Cap hit of $3.233448 million; No displacement: -$3.233448 million

Approximate salary cap space: Approximately $11 million

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

According to (OTC), the Steelers are $11,129,907 under the salary cap as of Saturday night. With all the same players counting against the cap, we have the exact same number.

Another credible salary cap website is, which has the Steelers at $12,264,336 as of Saturday night. Differences here are they do not have the salary for Christian Kuntz. 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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