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Free Agent OT Russell Okung: Steelers ‘Cannot Afford Me,’ Wants Paid in Bitcoin

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Russell Okung doesn’t think the Steelers can afford him.

Responding to a Steelers Now story about Okung being projected to sign with the Steelers on a one-year, $6.5 million contract by ESPN analyst Bill Barnwell, the free agent tackle was quite firm in his understanding that the Steelers don’t have the cap space.

“Truth is they cannot afford me,” Okung wrote on Twitter.

The Steelers have about $4 million in potentially usable salary cap space, according to Steelers Now’s estimate, but could create another $5 million by restructuring more contracts.

The team could also utilize the same voidable years structure it used to sign JuJu Smith-Schuster to what is essentially a one-year, $8 million contract but counts for just $2.4 million against the salary cap this season.

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Okung also added that he only accepts Bitcoin, referring to the growingly popular cryptocurrency. There has been no word if that would be a potential stumbling block for the Steelers. No NFL team has paid a player directly in Bitcoin, though Okung converted half of his $13 million salary from the Carolina Panthers in 2020 to Bitcoin through a company called Zap, according to Bitcoin Magazine.

When he converted $6.5 million of his salary to Bitcoin on Dec. 29, 2020, each Bitcoin was worth $23,861.77, according to Yahoo! records. That amount of Bitcoin would now be worth over $10.6 million, if Okung had not bought or sold any.

An 11-year veteran, Okung was a first round selection of the Seattle Seahawks in 2010, where he played the first six seasons of his career. He then spent time with the Broncos, Chargers and Panthers.

Okung won Super Bowl XLVIII with Seattle and has earned a pair of Pro Bowl nods. With nearly 9,000 career snaps under his built, Okung appears to be the perfect veteran presence along Pittsburgh’s new-look offensive line.

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