The Pittsburgh Steelers’ salary cap situation is dramatically improved compared to last year, at least when it comes to “dead money.” Last season Antonio Brown took up more than ten percent of the team’s cap—all by himself—despite having long-since been traded away to the Raiders.
Per OverTheCap.com, there are eight former Steelers players (plus one returning player) who count a total of $9,009,612 against the team’s 2020 salary cap, a relatively modest 4.5 percent of the team’s allowed expenditures. That represents approximately one-third of the dead money the organization accounted for a year ago.
What is Dead Money?
According to the 2020 NFL free agency glossary, dead money refers to “salary a team has already paid or has committed to paying (i.e., a signing bonus, fully guaranteed base salaries, earned bonuses, etc.) but has not been charged against the salary cap.”
It can come into play when a player is traded, released, or retires before reaching the end of his contract.
Or, as nfl.com puts it: “If there is dead money in a player’s contract and he is released or retired, that charge will accelerate onto the team’s salary cap for the current year.”
Pittsburgh’s biggest liability in 2020 comes courtesy of linebacker Mark Barron, who counts $2.875 million, having been cut by the Steelers in March of this year. Barron made it just halfway through a two-year contract he signed in March 2019.
The team’s next-biggest liability is wide receiver Donte Moncrief, who counts $1.75 million against Pittsburgh’s 2020 cap.
Moncrief signed a two-year $9 million contract with the Steelers in March 2019, but his career in Pittsburgh got off to a dreadful start, as he dropped four passes in last year’s season opening loss to the Patriots. A week later, against the Seahawks, he was responsible for Mason Rudolph’s first career interception.
Moncrief caught just four passes for 18 yards before the Steelers waived him prior to week 10 last year.
Ramon Foster, Anthony Chickillo
The only other former Steelers who will count more than $1 million against this year’s salary cap are Ramon Foster and Anthony Chickillo. Foster, who retired this past spring, will count $1.575 million. Chickillo—who was released in March and has since signed with the New Orleans Saints—has a cap charge of $1,097,500.
Roosevelt Nix, Eli Rogers, Sutton Smith and Marcus Allen
Meanwhile, fullback Roosevelt Nix and wide receiver Eli Rogers count for $875,000 and $250,000, respectively.
Sutton Smith—a linebacker selected in the sixth round of the 2019 draft—was waived after last year’s final preseason game, so the remaining prorated portion of his signing bonus counts $152,469.
Safety Marcus Allen is an interesting case. A fifth round pick from the 2018 draft, he was cut by the Steelers prior to the 2019 season, then added to the practice squad. He is currently on the active roster and hopes to make the team as a backup safety.
Last but not least, quarterback Josh Dobbs will count $139,781 against Pittsburgh’s 2020 cap. Dobbs was a fourth-round draft pick of the Steelers in 2017 and developed to the point where he became Ben Roethlisberger’s backup, but he was traded to the Jacksonville Jaguars in September of last year, hence the cap charge.
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