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Steelers Restructure Alex Highsmith’s Contract, Adding Significant Cap Space

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Steelers OLB Alex Highsmith
Steelers OLB Alex Highsmith against the Buffalo Bills, Jan. 15, 2024 - Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

The Pittsburgh Steelers have restructured the contract of outside linebacker Alex Highsmith, saving the team over $7 million in 2024 salary cap space, according to a report by Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.

The Steelers will save $7.206 million against their 2024 salary cap obligations with a full restructure of Highsmith’s contract. The savings will be spread out over the remaining three years of his deal.

Highsmith had been set to count for $13.9 million against the Steelers’ cap this season, $16.2 in 2025, $17.7 in 2026 and $18.7 in 2027. Now, he will count for $6.7 million this season, $18.6 million in 2025, $20.1 million in 2026 and $21.1 million in 2027.

The restructure will not change the total amount of the contract, but will fully guarantee his $10.7 million salary that was not guaranteed for this season. It may also move up the payment of that money to this offseason.

The Steelers don’t have an immediate need for the savings, with the team already having over $12 million in offseason salary cap space, but such a move seemed inevitable at some point this offseason. They could also be gearing up to add someone to the roster with a large 2024 salary cap hit, such as a trade for Brandon Aiyuk or another receiver.

With Highsmith’s restructure, the Steelers have about $19.3 million in 2024 offseason salary cap space, according to Steelers Now‘s estimate. That’s up from $12.1 million in our last estimate.

That total number can still be misleading. Before the start of the 2024 regular season, they will need to pay workout bonuses, sign their rookie class, account for the 52nd and 53rd players on the roster, sign a practice squad, account for players on the injured reserve and leave space for in-season acquisitions. They may also need to make room for a contract extension for tight end Pat Freiermuth.

The Steelers once again will have some work to do to get salary cap compliant before the start of the season after this week’s moves. They are functionally about $7.5 million over their salary cap. The Steelers have several avenues of achieving further savings, as the team can cut, restructure, or extend the contract of several veteran players, including Cam Heyward, Larry Ogunjobi and Minkah Fitzpatrick.

PITTSBURGH STEELERS 2024 SALARY CAP BREAKDOWN

Functional cap space (est.) -$239,692 T.J. Watt $30,418,694
Cam Heyward $22,406,250
Estimated 2024 NFL salary cap $255,400,000 Minkah Fitzpatrick $21,355,000
Steelers 2023 cap rollover $2,340,192 Larry Ogunjobi $13,283,333
Steelers 2024 salary cap (est.) $257,740,192 James Daniels $11,166,668
Isaac Seumalo $10,191,666
Top 51 salaries $214,036,570 Cole Holcomb $7,640,000
Dead cap hits $24,402,178* Alex Highsmith $6,727,000
Patrick Queen $6,113,333
Offseason cap space (est.) $19,301,444 Donte Jackson $6,000,000
Nate Herbig $5,460,000
Draft pool $2,663,936 Chris Boswell $4,720,000
End of rule of 51 $1,970,000 Elandon Roberts $4,667,500
Practice squad (est.) $4,000,000 Najee Harris $4,151,460
In-season buffer/IR (est.) $10,000,00 Damontae Kazee $3,875,000
Workout bonuses (placeholder) $907,200 Broderick Jones $3,778,719
Dan Moore Jr. $3,540,475
Potential future savings Justin Fields $3,233,448
Heyward extension $9,860,000 Miles Killebrew $2,255,000
Fitzpatrick restructure $8,860,000 DeShon Elliott $2,250,000
Watt restructure $9,965,000 Cordarelle Patterson $2,250,000
Joey Porter Jr. $2,185,988
Montravius Adams $2,125,000
Cameron Johnston $2,083,333
Pat Freiermuth $1,918,057
Dean Lowry $1,875,000
George Pickens $1,841,506
Keeanu Benton $1,666,619
DeMarvin Leal $1,414,608
Darnell Washington $1,216,798
Russell Wilson $1,210,000
Christian Kuntz $1,163,333
Van Jefferson $1,152,500
Kyle Allen $1,152,500
Quez Watkins $1,152,500
Isaiahh Loudermilk $1,135,072
Calvin Austin III $1,111,084
Nick Herbig $1,083,231
Breiden Fehoko $1,055,000
Denzel Mims $1,055,000
MyCole Pruitt $1,035,000
Connor Heyward $1,023,806
Mark Robinson $1,013,089
Jaylen Warren $989,000
Luq Barcoo $985,000
Marquez Callaway $985,000
Dez Fitzpatrick $985,000
Thomas Graham Jr. $985,000
Kyron Johnson $985,000
Jonathan Marshall $985,000
Josiah Scott $985,000

*Dead cap hits currently account for the prorated portion of the Cory Trice Jr.’s signing bonus while he is not among the top 51 contracts.

Salary figures from Steelers Now sources, the NFLPA, and OvertheCap.com.