The Pittsburgh Steelers enter the 2023 offseason with a bunch of their own players, especially on the defensive side of the ball, that are about to his free agency.
Starters Devin Bush, Terrell Edmunds, Larry Ogunjobi, Robert Spillane and Cam Sutton and key reservers Zach Gentry, Damontae Kazee and Derek Watt are all set to hit the free agent market on March 15 if the Omar Khan and company aren’t able to sign them to contracts beforehand.
The only problem is that the Steelers are broke. Well, technically, they’re not broke. But they don’t have any available salary cap space.
The cap has not been officially set for the 2023 season, but estimates out of the last league meeting pegged the number at $225 million. With that as a baseline, according to Steelers Now calculations based on data from the NFLPA and Over the Cap, the Steelers have about $1.7 million in currently available salary cap space.
When it comes to functional cap space, as in the amount that the team could actually spend between now and the start of the season, the number is more dire, as they are more than $20 million in the hole.
The Steelers will carry over some salary cap space from 2022, so if the league cap is set at $225 million, their cap figure for 2023 will be about $229.4 million.
Their current top 51 contracts, which are all that count in the offseason add up to $222.3 million. The Steelers have $5.3 million in dead money already on the books for 2023 from moves they made last season. Add those up and you can see that things are looking bleak already.
There are also some things that we know that are set to happen that we can calculate ahead of time. Cam Sutton’s contract will void the week after the Super Bowl, moving him off the Top 51, and turning his signing bonus in to a dead cap charge. The Steelers will have to pay approximately $850,000 in offseason workout bonuses.
Then there’s the rookie class. Because of the NFL’s slotting system, we know about what the Steelers’ rookies will make, and they will add approximately $3.7 million to the offseason cap total.
Then when it’s time for the regular season to roll around, the Steelers will need to put the final two players on the books, from 51 to 53, sign a practice squad, and have money left over for in-season contingencies.
Of course, the Steelers have many ways to create salary cap space, and Khan’s specialty before becoming general manager was balancing the team’s salary cap. They’ll get it figure out, but right now, it does not look like a free agent free-for-all is in the cards for the Steelers this offseason.