Steelers Have 6th-Most Cap Space Lost to Injury — Before Missing Five Starters Sunday
The Steelers have been hampered by a slew of injuries this season, most notably T.J. Watt’s pectoral tear in Week 1 against the Cincinnati Bengals that placed him on injured reserve. Heading into Week 6, the Steelers’ annual contract value on IR/PUP/NFI is over $34 million, which is the sixth most in the league, according to Jason Fitzgerald of Over The Cap. OTC’s numbers don’t account for the five starters that the Steelers will be without on Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Only the Los Angeles Chargers, Baltimore Ravens, Detroit Lions, Tennessee Titans and Denver Broncos are ahead of the Steelers in terms of cap dollars lost to to injury. The Broncos lead the league with a contract value of over $76 million on IR/PUP/NFI. The Green Bay Packers have the fewest at just over $5 million.
Watt is expected to return following the Steelers’ bye week against the New Orleans Saints in Week 10. Watt was scheduled to miss six weeks because of the pectoral injury, but he recently underwent arthroscopic knee surgery that delayed his return by 1-2 weeks. Watt had the knee surgery to clean up a preseason injury that occurred after being chop-blocked by Detroit Lions tight end T.J. Hockenson.
Watt signed a four-year, $112.01 million contract extension with the Steelers ahead of the 2021 season and has an average salary of $28,002,750. So, with Watt missing four games, that plays a big part in OTC’s formula of annual contract value on IR/PUP/NFI. The Steelers have drastically missed Watt too, as they have recorded just three sacks in their last four games after producing seven in Week 1. The Steelers are 0-8 when Watt doesn’t play in his career.
The Steelers are really beat up in the secondary right now, as cornerbacks Cam Sutton (hamstring), Ahkello Witherspoon (hamstring), Levi Wallace (concussion) and free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick (knee) all have been ruled out for Sunday’s game. This will be the third straight game that Witherspoon has missed. Cornerback Josh Jackson could be a starter. Jackson was promoted from the practice squad the past two weeks and played a good portion of the second half against the Buffalo Bills due to injuries. The Steelers will get back Terrell Edmunds (concussion) after being out this past Sunday.
Pat Freiermuth suffered a concussion against Buffalo and will be out on Sunday. It’s the third concussion that Freiermuth has had since last year. Especially after the Tua Tagovailoa situation, the Steelers will have to be cautious with Freiermuth. Rookie defensive end DeMarvin Leal (knee) will also not play, which makes it a total of six Steelers who will not suit up on Sunday.