Impact Of New Antonio Brown Contract On Cap Space & Mike Wallace

The two questions that everyone has right now, is how much cap space do the Pittsburgh Steelers have after signing wide receiver Antonio Brown to a 5 year, $42.5 million extension today and do they still have enough cap space to sign restricted free agent Mike Wallace to a long-term deal?

Let\’s start first with available cap space. As hard as it is to believe, Brown only ate up $1.7 million in cap space on Friday with his new deal. The new rule of 51 number sits currently at around $119,174,179.00 and that includes the new contracts of Brown and first round pick David DeCastro. That number also includes the $2.742 million that Wallace is currently counting against the cap because of his outstanding restricted tender. The Steelers adjusted cap number for 2012 is believed to be $121,195 million, so on paper right now they are only around $2,020,821.00 million under the cap at this very moment.

Now we will look at available cap space for the first year of a new deal with Wallace, should he report, sign his tender, and then work out a new long-term deal. Should a new deal be reached, you pull out that $2.742 million he is currently costing against the cap this year. That brings the available cap space to around $4,762,821.00 million. Another thing to keep in mind is that General Manager Kevin Colbert said earlier this week that the team will use the three, $500,000 veteran salary cap credits that are that their disposal this year. Using those credits will create another $1.5 million in cap space by doing so. That brings the available cap space for the Steelers to work out a new deal with Wallace to around $6,262,821.00 million. Realistically that number is more likely to be around $6 million due to a few errors I think I might have in my numbers that I am trying to still track down.

Now the Steelers will likely want to have about a $2 million cushion heading into the season, so that means that they realistically have about $4 million, or slightly higher, worth of cap room for the first year cap hit of Wallace. That is still plenty of room to get a lucrative five year deal done with fair guaranteed money and reasonable cap hits in the first two years of the deal. Remember, it is structure and guaranteed money that are the two biggest things to look at in contracts, not total value, as I have posted about several times before.

Keep in mind that the deal for Brown was a five year extension and the total value is for six years, so for those that insist on going by average per year numbers, the Brown extension breaks down to $7.033 million per season. As I posted recently, a five-year, $45 million contract for Wallace, if structured right, that includes no more than a $15 million signing bonus, will have a first year cap hit of about $4 million. That contract of course would include a second year option bonus of sorts and a second year base salary of say $2 million.

Colbert mentioned on Thursday that they could have to restructure another contract depending on if they sign Wallace or not. In my opinion, and if my numbers are as close as I believe them to be, that shouldn\’t be necessary depending on how the final 53 man roster shakes out.

The move made by the Steelers to extend Brown on Friday, very well could have been in the cards the whole time. By getting it done early on in camp, if indeed it was in their plans to do later, sends an even clearer message to Wallace that the team is not afraid to move on without him. Keep in mind that the new deal for Brown only took up $1.7 million in cap space, but it gives the appearance of a large $42.5 million payout being made to another wide receiver on the roster that has done and said all the right things since he was drafted.

The move to also sign Brown long-term also protects the Steelers should Wallace decide that he wants this to be his final year in Pittsburgh. Although Brown more than likely could have been easily retained with just a first round restricted tender next offseason, just as the Steelers did with Wallace this past offseason, they now don\’t have to worry about the process. They also dont have to worry about Brown and his agent thinking that his market value has increased, should he have another spectacular year. It\’s done now.

Wallace still has the same two choices that he had prior to Brown getting his new contract today. He can either report now, sign his tender and then try to continue to work out a long-term deal before the start of the season or he can sit out until week 11 and then sign his tender so that he can qualify as an unrestricted free agent next offseason. I still believe the Steelers want to sign Wallace to a long-term deal, but as always, that deal will be on their terms and one that they deem to be fair. They do not overpay for wide receivers.

  • helloiamleavingandne

    can we plaes stop praising brown for “doing and saying all the right things”, last i checked wallace has as well and so have many other players on the steelers team and in the nfl

  • Congratulations Brown you deserve it. With his character around the team i am starting to see a mini Hines. Can’t wait for this year to come i’m looking at 7. GO STEELERS!!!!!

  • SOnMyChest

    Dave Byran I do not take you for granted. I love reading your breakdowns of the cap and your numbers. Keep it up, you’re great

  • emac2

    Not if we want to make him the bad guy for playing the contract game per the CBA. Only the teams can play hardball and still get respect from the fans. That said, my take is a long holdout and if I had to guess, the team probably refused to assure him they would NOT use the tag next year if he came to camp. The only thing that makes sense now is to wait until the 10th week deadline and save your body for free agency.

  • Jason White

    At the same time sitting will lower his market value as well as his options. When it comes to a ridiculous contract its all about what have you done lately and sitting as long as he can means he will have not done anything spectacular in over a year at that point. If he really wants big money he and doesn’t feel he will get it from the Steelers then he can sign his tender and go out and prove himself for an entire year then he can go ask for a ridiculous contract from some loser team that has almost no chance of winning a Superbowl within the foreseeable future while his buddies get paid a fair amount with the Steelers to go win a couple Superbowls together while he eats popcorn on his expensive furniture in his multi million dollar mansion I’m sure he will have.

  • SteelSpine

    I agree the numbers breakdown is a huge help. When I heard Brown signed I then wondered how Steelers could come up with enough $$ to sign Wallace to long-term, then wa-la Dave immediately gives the answer to that in detail, wow. I too appreciate the excellent timing of this.

  • emac2

    An extra 10 games plus preseason adds a lot of risk for little return and there would still be plenty of time to show that he still has it. From a business standpoint I think the holdout is a better idea depending on the insurance available.

  • SteelersDepot