There has been a lot more discussion as of late about which of the Pittsburgh Steelers restricted free agents may or may not be tendered over the course of the next few weeks and most of the concern seems to revolve around the cap space needed to do that.
I still stand my prediction that the five primary restricted free agents: Emmanuel Sanders, Isaac Redman, Jonathan Dwyer, Stevenson Sylvester and Steve McLendon, will all be tendered at the low amount of $1.323 million if none of them are signed to a longer term deal first. Sanders, Dwyer and Sylvester should all be the original round variety, while McLendon and Redman should be right of first refusal. That totals out to be $6.615 million, but many forget that those five players, once tendered, will displace the five lowest salaries of the players currently under contract in the top 51 salaries.
As right now the bottom five players in the top 51 total out at $2.025 million, which means that the additional amount of cap space needed to accommodate the aforementioned five players is $4.59 million.
This is what is called displacement in the Rule of 51 and it needs to be taken into account when every signing, tender or release takes place moving forward, as the Steelers currently only have 51 players under contract for 2013.
If a player is released, for example, his base salary will be displaced in the top 51 by the highest salary outside of 51. If any dead money needs to be accounted for the release of said player, that too counts against the Rule of 51 total in addition.
Another misnomer that seems to be floating around about restricted free agent tenders is that they are fully guaranteed. Unless specified in the language of the restricted tender, and it usually isn\’t, they are not guaranteed. Franchise tag tenders, however, are fully guaranteed once signed by the player.