Steelers 2017 Salary Cap: Projected Space For Start Of New League Year

Immediately after the Pittsburgh Steelers 2016 season came to an end I provided you a projected 2017 salary cap outlook for the team along with several things I expect will happen business-wise over the course of the offseason. That outlook included a few projections in terms of futures contracts and exclusive rights free agents that I knew were soon on the way. Since then, the Steelers have made quite a few transactions and if you missed any of them, you can review them listed in this master post.

The start of the 2017 NFL league year is now a month away as of Thursday and with that date now on the horizon, I will attempt to project what the Steelers 2017 salary cap situation will look like at that time.

As you can see, I have projected 64 players being under contract come March 9. Currently, there are only 58 and I have added Le’Veon Bell (franchise tag), Chris Hubbard (restricted tender), Ross Cockrell (restricted tender), Alejandro Villanueva (exclusive rights tender), Anthony Chickillo (exclusive rights tender) and B.J. Finney (exclusive rights tender) as projected tag or tendered players.

Based on my projections, the Steelers Rule of 51 number is $146,677,578 and when you add on the $2,395,222 in dead money for 2017, you get total debits of $149,072,800. Now, when you rollover the $3,269,368 in unused salary cap space from 2016, the total number is $145,803,432, or $22,196,568 under the currently projected 2017 league salary cap number of $168,000,000. You will see that $22,196,568 in the second to last line in the table below.

As a point of reference, the Steelers 58 players currently under contract along with all dead money and unused salary cap space from 2016 equates to the team being $37,151,568 under a $168 million cap number and you may have seen numbers similar to that currently being floated around the internet. Its important to remember that those numbers you’re likely seeing are current and do not include future tags, tenders and other forthcoming charges.

In summation, I project the Steelers as potentially having $13,442,568 in real 2017 salary cap space come March 9 and please remember that number includes a tag for Bell and restricted tenders for both Hubbard and Cockrell. Now, it would be silly to end our 2017 salary cap projection there as we know several more future charges are forthcoming past March 9. I have projected and line-itemized those future charges in the table below in order to give you a more realistic view of REAL salary cap space. While the projected future charges number of $8.754 million won’t be exact, at least it should be in the ballpark, so to speak.

Now, do not be overly alarmed by that number. For starters, even though Bell is projected to wear the franchise tag at least initially, one can easily speculate that a long-term extension is in his future which in turn should lower his 2017 salary number.

I also want everyone to keep in mind that linebackers James Harrison and Lawrence Timmons are both likely to be re-signed at some point during the next several months and should that ultimately happen, both will eat into available salary cap space. The same could go for running back DeAngelo Williams, who like Harrison and Timmons, is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent come March. There’s also a good chance that a few future lower level unrestricted free agents might be re-signed as well, but with that said, none of them will use up large amounts of salary cap space after roster displacement takes place in the top 51.

In addition to Bell receiving an extension, you can probably expect wide receiver Antonio Brown and defensive end Stephon Tuitt to both receive extensions between now and the start of the 2017 regular season. The good news with Brown is that an extension for him shouldn’t require that much additional 2017 salary cap space. That, however, isn’t likely to be the case with Tuitt.

Now, the Steelers certainly have a few candidates to be released during the offseason and leading that list is tight end Ladarius Green. A release of Green prior to June 1 would free up $2.625 in 2017 salary cap space prior to roster displacement. Linebacker Arthur Moats and tackle Ryan Harris are two other players who are on the fringe of being cuttable at some point.

In a few more weeks I will once again update the Steelers 2017 salary cap situation.

Ben Roethlisberger$12,000,000$18,200,000
Antonio Brown$4,710,000$13,618,334
Le’Veon Bell (FRANCHISE TAG)$12,400,000$12,400,000
Maurkice Pouncey$7,500,000$11,051,000
David DeCastro$1,100,000$11,050,000
Cameron Heyward$5,000,000$10,400,000
Mike Mitchell$5,000,000$8,135,416
Marcus Gilbert$4,000,000$7,433,500
Ladarius Green$5,000,000$6,187,500
Ramon Foster$2,675,000$3,591,666
Ryan Shazier$1,716,438$3,025,020
Arthur Moats$2,250,000$2,883,334
William Gay$2,000,000$2,633,333
Bud Dupree$1,273,390$2,515,169
Vince Williams$2,000,000$2,500,000
Ryan Harris$1,900,000$2,237,500
Artie Burns$885,954$2,179,769
Chris Hubbard (RFA)$1,900,000$1,900,000
Ross Cockrell (RFA)$1,900,000$1,900,000
Robert Golden$1,465,000$1,881,666
Stephon Tuitt$1,048,560$1,466,641
Darrius Heyward-Bey$1,200,000$1,333,333
Senquez Golson$798,732$1,091,194
Sean Davis$635,771$928,856
Martavis Bryant$690,000$799,805
Sammie Coates$615,000$797,379
Javon Hargrave$560,000$733,314
Daniel McCullers$690,000$709,670
Greg Warren$1,000,000$695,000
Fitzgerald Toussaint$690,000$690,000
Zach Mettenberger$690,000$690,000
Jesse James$615,000$667,228
L.T. Walton$615,000$644,232
Alejandro Villanueva (ERFA)$615,000$615,000
Anthony Chickillo (ERFA)$615,000$615,000
Chris Boswell$615,000$615,000
Jordan Berry$615,000$615,000
L.J. Fort$615,000$615,000
Roosevelt Nix$615,000$615,000
Jerald Hawkins$465,000$597,622
Tyler Matakevich$540,000$555,763
Eli Rogers$540,000$541,668
Al-Hajj Shabazz$540,000$540,000
B.J. Finney (ERFA)$540,000$540,000
Brian Mihalik$540,000$540,000
Cobi Hamilton$540,000$540,000
DeMarcus Ayers$540,000$540,000
Greg Ducre$540,000$540,000
Jordan Dangerfield$540,000$540,000
Keavon Milton$540,000$540,000
Karlos Williams$540,000$540,000
Brandon Dixon$540,000$540,000
Xavier Grimble$540,000$540,000
Canaan Severin$465,000$467,666
Brandon Brown-Dukes$465,000$465,000
Dez Stewart$465,000$465,000
Dreamius Smith$465,000$465,000
Farrington Huguenin$465,000$465,000
Gus Johnson$465,000$465,000
Jacob Hagan$465,000$465,000
Johnny Maxey$465,000$465,000
Matt Feiler$465,000$465,000
Marcus Tucker$465,000$465,000
Mike Hilton$465,000$465,000
Projected Top 51 Under Contract$146,677,578
Shaun Suisham*$2,206,000
Travis Feeney*$75,267
Demarcus Ayers*$59,739
Jordan Zumwalt*$26,213
Giorgio Newberry*$6,667
Devaunte Sigler*$5,334
Tyriq McCord*$4,667
Will Monday*$3,334
Quinton Schooley*$2,667
Johnny Maxey*$2,000
David Reeves*$1,334
Brandon Brown-Dukes*$1,000
Marcus Tucker*$1,000
Projected Dead Money Total$2,395,222
Projected Prorated Rookie Signing Bonus Displacement$2,000,000
Projected Practice Squad Players$1,224,000
Projected Final Cap Loan Repayment$1,000,000
Projected 52nd & 53rd Players$930,000
Projected Workout Bonuses$600,000
Projected Allocated In-Season Space$3,000,000
2016 SALARY CAP ROLLOVER$3,269,368
Projected NFL Salary Cap As Of 2/2017$168,000,000
Projected 2017 Salary Cap Space As Of 3/2017$22,196,568
Projected Expendable 2017 Salary Cap Space As Of 3/2017$13,442,568

  • steelburg

    The actually cap the past few years has came in a little more then what most people project it to be. If we do end up cutting Green and we don’t go the draft route I hope we go after Jared Cook. I like this class of tight ends but I think we would get Green like production from Cook. And Cook should also come cheap. A option at CB who should be affordable if we dont go the draft route is Prince Amukamara. Again these are good options IMO if we choose not to go the draft route at those positions.

  • SteelersDepot

    Cook about to be 30 and has a history of drops. no thanks imho

  • stan

    Timmons is likely to be re-signed? I don’t know about that. I’m sure the Steelers will offer him a contract but he’s also likely to get a better offer from another team.

  • Jeff Papiernik

    Yeah I’m not a fan of Cook. Plus Rodgers says he really wants Cook back.

  • SteelersDepot

    I will bet two glazed donuts that Timmons is re-signed.

  • Jason

    Mitchell is grossly overpaid.

  • Steve

    Nice write-up Dave. Thanks for giving us numbers to go by, where we can see how much the Steelers have in the Kitty to work with. Gives us all a place to start with the new season. Steelers still have to make some decisions on some players and make some signings with current and future players.

  • LucasY59

    so the rollover amount credit could be enough to serve as the in season buffer (that will again be rolled over into next season)

    cutting Moats and Harris could cover the re-signing of Harrison and Williams (they are preforming well for their age, but at the same time likely only have one season left in the league and should be willing to play for about 2 million)

    Timmons and Landry Jones seem to be the bigger ?s (and possibly bigger contracts to eat into the remaining cap space) I really hope both are able to be re-signed for less than 3 million each, I think the leverage is in the Steelers favor on Timmons and he could possibly be signed to an amount (2ish mil) that is equal/similar to what they are paying V.Williams (having Vince recently extended in combination with the salary cap cost are likely to be the main reasons for not bringing Law back) with Landry they have much less leverage, but might chose to go with a veteran like McCown or Hoyer if they are forced to pay more $, IMO Landry would be wise to try and get a cheaper 2-3 yr deal to stay with the team than chase $ elsewhere (which would most likely result in him bouncing on a couple of teams and being out of the league in 3 yrs anyway)

    the other Steelers FAs could be brought back for minimum deals, guys like Mathews, S.Johnson, D.Johnson, S.Thomas and maybe? J.Gilbert, which means that all are not at all guaranteed to make the roster, but could be good dept/ST contributors and would at least make the players that beat them out for roster spots really earn it, the only thing these signings would do is bump up the displacement a bit so the cost is pretty minimal

    as far as bringing in any FAs they would have to be very similar to what I showed in the previous paragraph, maybe a guy like Kayvon Webster or John Simon, but again other than depth and STs I dont see much of an impact

    the extensions for Brown and Tuitt should be a priority (Tuitt would most likely require the franchise tag if they dont get a deal done this yr, and if that happens he could become much more expensive, I think it could still be a 10+ million deal to extend (maybe up to 12) but if he is franchised it could come closer to 15) with Brown it is already pretty much automatic that the extension has to be done this yr (AB is not going to play for just a 4.7 million base salary) like Dave pointed out AB’s cap cost might not rise much, but Tuitts could go up considerably, but is not unaffordable

    the good thing about getting these deals done is that there would be no big time free agents to re-sign in 2018, Shazier will most likely have his 5th yr option used and they would be working on a extension for him, but that is the only deal they would need to make and that could be a great relief since the pro-rated amounts in addition to base salaries on AB, Bell, and Tuitts new deals could take up a large amount of next yrs cap space, maybe a extension for Bryant or Coates (one or the other, but not both) and they might even have some cap space to bring in some FAs next yr

  • steelburg

    A 1 year deal with Cook similar to what the Packers just gave him is the kind of deal I’m talking about. And he sure looked good late in the season for the Packers this year. DHB had an issues with drops also and some how playing with AB helps this guy’s improve in that area.

  • steelburg

    Aren’t you curious at all, as to why Rogers wants him back?

  • blackandgoldBullion

    Hey Dave. Last year AV got some sort of year end bonus. Guys who play at such a low salary but end up contributing starter snaps can get this. I have no idea what it’s called but how does that work? I guess that would still have to come out of the past years cap. Is that correct?

  • Jeff Papiernik

    Not really. I still don’t think he’s great from what I saw this year. He’s just a massive upgrade from Richard Rodgers.

  • steelburg

    Ain’t that the truth.

  • LucasY59

    after playing on a one yr prove it deal he will want a more than that this yr

  • LucasY59

    I am more concerned about his locker room issues for why he was dropped by the Rams last yr

  • blackandgoldBullion

    Also if they tag Bell they might only have money for AB and Tuitt but not much else. Lesser types. But if they sign Bell long term they can bring down the first year hit and might Be able to sign 1 decent free agent. Maybe a CB or something. THat might help and there would be less pressure during the draft.

  • SteelersDepot

    performance-based pay does not come out of cap

  • LucasY59

    then why wouldnt all contracts have a ton of performance incentives? (to keep the cap cost lower)

    *or is it just for those structured contracts until the players are vetted?

  • blackandgoldBullion

    Wow. That’s great.

  • steelburg

    We don’t need him to be great. I’m just looking for a player with a similar skill set as Green who can provide similar play even if it’s to a lesser degree as Green. With all our other weapons expected back he should be a nice cheap piece that can give us similar play.

  • harding36

    No kidding. That 8 mil cap chage is brutal.

  • Reg Sayhitodabadguy Hunt

    I’ll be the first to say this dave even though I don’t fully understand it but your good at what you do playing the numbers game but I have one question I’m trying to figure out the steelers will have 22m before the brown and bell contracts and 13m after to shop around when it’s all said and done?

  • Reg Sayhitodabadguy Hunt

    I think timmons said he wants to finish his career in Pittsburgh

  • george

    I don’t think they cut Green unless they’re sure he can’t cut it health wise.

  • SteelersDepot
  • Reg Sayhitodabadguy Hunt

    That’s a novel

  • SteelersDepot

    ok both my numbers are for March 9th and assume Bell has been tagged and no new extensions have been given. The $22,196,568 is without future cost and $13,442,568 is with those costs applied. The future costs has nothing to do with extensions.

  • LucasY59

    just putting bit of details to the raw data that the Article shows *as well as a little look into the future

  • Reg Sayhitodabadguy Hunt

    Great job dave sounds like a lot of calculators,doughnuts and coffee to figure this all all

  • CP72

    Great stuff Dave. Gonna have some contract projections any time soon?

  • SteelersDepot

    a lot of coffee

  • SteelersDepot

    yes indeed

  • JB Burgess

    If Butler has Timmons chasing WR’S again next season this would be wasted money. Timmons is still “trash” down the seam. And Butler is clueless about how to take the seam away. His history proves that.

  • steelburg

    I agree. That’s what they should do.

  • NinjaMountie

    Great work. We aren’t in bad shape at all, especially in comparison to recent years. However, we aren’t rolling in cap room like some have speculated, either.
    We have options is the best thing.

  • Yea. And I even like Mitchell, but 8 mil, yikes!

  • Two glazed donuts and a Tim horton’s gift card. He will be a steeler no doubt in my mind

  • NW86

    Mitchell makes $5M/year. The only reason his cap hit is $8M now is because they restructured him again last year, pushing the cap hit into dead money this year. When they need a little more cap space, they try to do it with someone who they know isn’t going anywhere the next couple years, and they chose to do that with Mitchell instead of Pouncey, Heyward, or Ben, so they must have been pretty happy with him. I was a little surprised they did it with Mitchell too.

  • On par with our annual off season game plan. Maybe sign a depth guy or two, take care of what’s in house and get ready for the draft. The main thing thats encouraging is we are no longer kicking cans down the road and strapping ourselves with contract restructures. Looks like they’ve learned from trying to keep our last championship defense intact.

  • LucasY59

    adding 10 mil a yr to the cap helps a lot with avoiding restructures as well

  • Charles Haines

    Two questions Dave. Why do you only include 51 players and when does national media release their annual “Steelers are in salary cap hell” report?

  • StarSpangledSteeler

    Both of you are correct.

    JB is right that Timmons has regressed in speed and change of direction. He is not a coverage LB anymore. He is a 2 down run stuffer who doesn’t play special teams and should be off the field in sub packages (which is what we run 67% of the time). And I personally believe Vince Williams has now passed him from a physical standpoint.

    Dave is right that Butler and Tomlin don’t care. Timmons is a good team guy who still makes a ton of tackles. They see value in that. They are going to everything they can to re-sign him, despite the fact that he is well past his prime. Just like they did with Aaron Smith, Casey Hampton, Troy Polamalu, etc.

  • StarSpangledSteeler

    You beat me to it. I was literally going to say everything you just did, so I’ll just say amen.

    Actually let me add one last tidbit…

    Mike Mitchell is a Steeler type safety. He is fast and physical and brings a certain amount swagger and intimidation, that our secondary is lacking. And I’m glad we have him on our roster.

    Having said that, he also misses a lot of tackles, because he likes going for the big hit rather than breaking down and wrapping up. And he is turning 30 years old this year. It wouldn’t take too much to upgrade him and save the $5 million.

    It would behoove us to draft a “bigger” “thicker” CB like Rasul Douglas or Desmond King or Quincy Wilson, who could also play free safety. That will provide us with solid depth this year, and a long term replacement for 2018 and beyond, and an extra sub package DB in between.

  • Jefferson_St_Joe

    Would you look in to seeing if Shazier wants to extend this year instead of waiting until next? It certainly worked out for the Steelers when they recognized the talent and did their deal with AB 2 years before he became unrestricted.

    He may not be in to it and if the numbers don’t work there’s not much lost. I fully expect him to become a DPOY candidate next year or in his 5th year, at which point you could be looking at a really hefty salary. You trade him the security of the money up front for less than the AAV he would likely get by waiting it out.

  • StarSpangledSteeler


    You make some good points. But I have to disagree with you on one of them.

    Alejandro Villanueva is going to cost significant dollars to re-sign (like $8 to 9 million/year). Munchak has molded him into a very solid left tackle and he’s going to get paid as such, either by us, or by some other team.

    That’s why we drafted Hawkins (instead of Dak Prescott or Cardell Jones or Kevin Hogan) in the 4th round last year, because the odds of us keeping Villanueva are very low, when we’re already paying DeCastro + Pouncey + Gilbert. We would be wise to offer A.V. a modest but reasonable extension this year (although I don’t think Colbert will) (and I don’t think A.V. would accept it if he did).

    This is why we MUST get Tuitt extended this of season (as you pointed out). If Tuitt wants too much money, I would put that money into A.V. and draft a new DL next year.

    This is also why I personally would let Landry Jones and L. Timmons walk. That $6+ million would be huge in keeping A.V. and we could do it this year instead of next year. And we could draft any number of college QB’s to fill Landry’s spot for peanuts.

    I think Moats and Harris are both Gone Like The Wind. And yes, some of that money goes to Deebo.

  • Scunge

    I keep reading that Brown’s new extension is not going to inflate his cap number for 2017 but I just don’t see how it is going to stay the same.

    I mean do people really think that Brown is going to be happy with just an extension of 4 more years with no signing bonus and no roster bonus? Wake up people!

    Julio Jones got a $12 million signing bonus AND $11.5 million in the form of two roster bonuses the first two years of his contract. In 2015 he got a $7.5 million roster bonus and in 2016 he got a $4 million roster bonus.

    So, if I am Brown and his agent, I expect to get a new signing bonus AND a roster bonus, more guaranteed money in the first two years of the contract. You look at what the Steelers did for David Decastro and how that was structured. They gave him a $16 million signing bonus AND he has two roster bonuses that add up to to some $10 million, he gets for example $6.75 million in 2017 for a roster bonus.

    Brown and his agent are going to want something along the same lines of what Julio Jones got and are going to point out how the Steelers did much the same with DeCastro.

    So, if they give him a signing bonus of say $12 million, that right there increases Brown’s cap hit for 2017 by $2.4 million to $16 million. And if they give him a roster bonus of say $7 million well, that raises his cap hit for this year to a grand total of $23 million.

    Go ahead and try and poke holes in my logic but why wouldn’t Brown and his agent expect all of that?

  • Hypo Cycloid

    AB was never extended. They just pushed money around. They took money from his last year and pushed it into a bonus this year. They will extend his contract this offseason with the Steelers rule of only 1 year left on the deal.

    As for Shaz, he was a 1st round pick and as such the team can add a 5th year option. He is going into his 4th season I believe, so I think that this is the offseason that the team needs to announce that they will be giving him the 5th year deal. I’m not positive on that though, but am pretty sure.

    So I predict they will sign Shaz to the 5th year option of which he doesn’t really have much say. In next years off season, they may then decide to do an extension for Shaz.

  • Hypo Cycloid

    I’m not thinking about the numbers here. But I do have a thought about the comparison between AB and Julio regarding team contracts. I believe Julio had a lot of leverage in his situation. I don’t believe AB has the same for a couple of reasons.

    AB is not an unrestricted free agent. He is still under contract. So if he doesn’t sign an extension, he has two choices.

    1. Sit out the season, not get paid and be forced to pay fines, and hurt his future value by doing so with other teams. He will be even a year older hurting his value as well. Julio was more important to the Falcons. They had no one else at the time. The Steelers have a great talent that is coming back in Bryant and Bell. The Steelers can more afford to lose AB’s services than could Atlanta lose Julio’s services. Advantage to the Steelers.

    2. His age as compared to Julio’s age at the time of contract talk is a big deal. This is advantage to the Steelers as opposed to Julio’s advantage over the Falcons.

    So I do expect AB to be resigned with us, but I don’t think they will get the same contract numbers as Julio. He will still be one of the highest paid and I believe AB will accept that. How that plays into cap hit, I am not going to touch though.

  • Good point

  • Alex Kozora

    Jumping in real quick, for the offseason, teams work off the “rule of 51,” meaning only the top 51 salaries are counted against the cap. That way, you can have a functioning 90 man roster throughout.

  • LucasY59

    AV will be a RFA next yr which means they could technically wait 2 more yrs before they would have to give him a contract (and he would be about 31 when that happens) but like I said they would do well to offer a long term contract instead of a RFA tender next yr (which would have to be the early rd option) I do agree LT is more expensive and so getting him on a Gilbert type deal would be a bargain, but I dont think he gets a premier LT type signing (even if he goes elsewhere in a few yrs) I think they could sign him for a 3 yr deal for around 8 million per max (which should be affordable) keep the OL intact as long as Ben is on the team

  • Jeff Burton

    So it looks like the Steeler might be able to sign one high value free agent? I’m thinking situational pass rusher or a quality and DEPENDABLE #2 receiver. The Steelers have got a lot of players at the position but Bryant’s one screw up away from being out the NFL, Coates is in Tomlin’s doghouse, Rogers and Hamilton are good possession receivers and not much more and DHB is sub/long ball specialist. Maybe DeSean Jackson to pair with AB for a few years? He’s still got his speed and would probably fit the $ amount.

  • Jefferson_St_Joe

    With Brown, I’m talking about his current contract, which was an extension of his rookie contract after his 2nd year in the league.

    You’re correct about this being the year they pick up his 5th year. That will be for about $11M I think.

  • Jon Chorba

    I will preface everything I’m about to type by stating the obvious….I know this would never happen in a gagillion years….but what if…

    What if Ben said “you know what….I’ve got 2 MAYBE 3 years left in the tank. I want at least one more Super Bowl ring. My net worth is at $70 Million. Tear up my contract and give me the league minimum and go get some more weaponry.”