The Pittsburgh Steelers remain an estimated $12.4 million dollars over the 2021 salary cap after restructuring the contract of defensive lineman Cam Heyward, according to salary data from OvertheCap.com and analysis by Steelers Now cap expert F.S. Fisher.
The restructuring of Heyward’s contract, along with the retirements of tight end Vance McDonald and center Maurkice Pouncey since the end of the 2020 season, has the Steelers down to $197.8 million of salary obligations for 2021, Steelers Now estimates.
The 2021 salary cap has not yet been set. It will be no less than $180 million after the NFL and NFLPA reached an interim agreement last week. The Steelers will roll over $4.95 million of unused cap space from 2020 over into the new year.
Steelers Now’s estimate that puts the team at $12.4 million in the red is based on a salary cap of $180.5 million. NBC Sports reported on Monday that the cap is expected to be between $182 and $183 million.
The team must get under the salary cap maximum by March 17, which is the start of the new league year, but the team’s salary cap woes won’t be finished at that point. The team must also make enough room to sign the 2021 rookie class and to fill the final two spots on the 53-man roster, as only 51 salaries are counted in the offseason. The Steelers will likely need at least an additional $8 million to accomplish all of that.
The Steelers only have a couple more contracts that they can restructure in a similar fashion to Heyward’s. Re-working the deal of defensive end Stephon Tuitt could save $4.2 million, kicker Chris Boswell could save $1.2 million and fullback Derek Watt $1.1 million.
Other savings will have to either come from re-negotiated contracts, where the team convinces a player to take a pay cut, contract extensions, or outright releases.