The first few waves of free agency signings are currently in the books and the Pittsburgh Steelers have made just a few low profile moves like we expected that they would. With the draft now less than a month away, the team sits with just under $2.5 million worth of salary cap space to get them to June, when they will pick up about another $5 million after displacement from the release of guard Willie Colon.
We will now look at the cap space that will be needed by the Steelers moving forward and will assume that they will hold onto all eight of their current draft picks on draft day.
The Steelers estimated rookie pool number, following the addition of the sixth round compensatory pick that was awarded to them last week, is right around $5.1 million by my estimates. When you displace the eight lowest salaries in the current top 51, you will get a differential of roughly $1.5 million that they will need in cap space to get all eight draft picks under contract.
While most of the later round draft picks will be signed early on, I would expect the Steelers first and second round picks to remain unsigned until well past the beginning of June. Last year, second round draft pick Mike Adams signed in May, but his circumstance was a little different thanks to him testing positive for marijuana at the NFL combine.
So come June, what will they do with the extra cap space? It\'s doubtful that they will sign any big name free agents at that point, outside of perhaps Ahmad Bradshaw, but a little of it might be used via displacement should they choose to re-sign a few more of their own free agents who might be hanging around. We are only talking about a million at most that may be needed for that, and even that is a high projection.
The Steelers will most likely want to have $2 million or so to use during the season should they need to sign injury replacements. Whatever is left over, say around $3 million, can be used to accommodate a first-year cap hit increase of an extension or two during training camp, if that is indeed the way, they want to go.
Basically, from this point on, most of the hard work is done, and the Steelers are right where they need to be cap wise for the remaining business that lies ahead.