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Study: Steelers Below NFL Average in Impact of Players on Injured Reserve

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Steelers OLB T.J. Watt on Injured Reserv

The Pittsburgh Steelers season has been significantly impacted by injuries, especially on the defensive side of the ball, where reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year, outside linebacker T.J. Watt missed seven weeks and now All-Pro free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick will miss an indeterminate amount of time after having his appendix removed.

From Kenny Pickett and Myles Jack to Larry Ogunjobi and nearly every single member of the team’s secondary, it seems like the daily injury report has been a constant story for the team since the first week of the season.

Seven Steelers missed practice on Thursday, not counting the seven on the injured reserve list, which include two of the team’s 2022 draft picks, Pro Bowl kicker Chris Boswell and cornerback William Jackson III, who got hurt before ever playing a down for the Steelers after coming over in a mid-season trade.

But while the injuries have certainly led to significant amount of changes to the Steelers available lineups and the way they’re able to play, the Steelers have not been as impacted as other teams, based on one way to look at injuries.

When it comes to the total amount of the salary cap spent on players that have been on the injured reserve list, the Steelers have only the 18th-highest total, according to research by Over the Cap.

The Steelers have spent $24.8 million on players on reserve lists this season. The team with the biggest total, the Denver Broncos, has spent $64.4 million. Of teams in the AFC North, only the Cleveland Browns’ $18 million is a lower total than the Steelers. Unlike in other sport, NFL teams do not salary cap relief for players on the injured reserve list, so when money is allocated to those slots, not only are teams forced to go without those players, they are playing at a salary cap disadvantage against their peers, as well.

Of course, there’s a difference between being on injured reserve list and being available. Steelers cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon has played only four games this season, but has not hit the IR. It appears that Fitzpatrick will not go on IR for his appendix issue. So the Steelers have been injured, just not injured enough to catch the methodology of this study.

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