So now that the Pittsburgh Steelers have decided to match the $2.5 million offer sheet given to restricted free agent wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders by the New England Patriots, do they have enough cap room to sign more players moving forward?
Thanks to displacement in the Rule of 51, yes, but only within reason being as the team has just $742,760 in salary cap space right now.
Let\’s take free agent offensive lineman Doug Legursky, for example. Should the Steelers sign him to a one-year deal at his minimum amount of $715,000, it would only use up another $235,000 in cap space after displacement in the top 51 salaries.
Would the Steelers be able to afford a player such as free agent running back Ahmad Bradshaw right now? Since Bradshaw is more than likely going to demand a base salary in 2013 of $1 million or greater, it would be very tough unless more cap space was created via a contract termination, restructure or an extension prior to June 2nd. They could realistically only accommodate a first year cap hit on him right now of around $1 million or slightly higher without having to free up additional cap space.
Keep in mind that the Steelers don\’t have to worry about accommodating their draft picks until each is signed as their $405,000 base salaries would have them each outside of the top 51 players under contract as we sit here today.
What about the undrafted free agents that the Steelers will sign immediately following the draft? Their base salaries, like the draft picks, will keep them outside of the rule of 51, so only their signing bonuses need to be accommodated in the cap number. The max a team can spend on bonuses for undrafted players should once again be right around $75,000, so the Steelers have more than enough room to accommodate that.