With Antonio Brown Gone, Dead Money Less of a Worry for Steelers

Antonio-Brown-Smith-Schuster

Joe Sargent/Getty Images Antonio Brown celebrates with JuJu Smith-Schuster after a touchdown reception against the New England Patriots in 2018.

When an NFL team like the Pittsburgh Steelers signs a player, it hopes that player remains with the club through the end of the contract. Otherwise, a portion of his financial compensation may count against the salary cap after he is no longer on the team. Too much ‘dead money’ on an NFL salary cap results in a competitive disadvantage, and it often plays a role in the decision to cut or trade a player.

For example, the Philadelphia Eagles may have wanted to release DeSean Jackson after he posted anti-Semitic statements on social media earlier this week, but per contract details available at overthecap.com, that would have resulted in a $12.536 million charge on Philadelphia’s 2020 salary cap. (That is, the $4.8 million Jackson is owed this year in guaranteed salary, plus $7.736 million—the prorated portion of the signing bonus from the contract Jackson signed in March of last year.) That’s $3.927 million more than he would count against the salary cap by remaining with the Eagles.


Steelers 2020 Salary Cap: Antonio Brown Off the Books

In terms of dead money on Pittsburgh’s 2020 salary cap, the team is in excellent shape this season, especially as compared to last year when Antonio Brown represented $21.12 million in dead money all by himself.

According to OverTheCap, there are nine former Steelers players who count a total of $9,009,612 against the club’s 2020 salary cap, a relatively modest 4.5 percent of the $198.2 million cap. That’s less than half of the dead money hit the Steelers absorbed when they traded Antonio Brown to the Raiders in March of last year.

The biggest liability in 2020 comes courtesy of Mark Barron, who counts $2.875 million, having been cut by the Steelers in March of this year, making it just halfway through a two-year contract he signed in the spring of 2019.

The next biggest liability is that of 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 horrific start, as he dropped four passes in last year’s season opening loss to the New England Patriots. A week later a pass went through his hands that resulted in 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, a procedural move that saved the Steelers from losing a compensatory third-round draft pick that ultimately yielded linebacker Alex Highsmith in the 2020 NFL Draft.


Ramon Foster and Anthony Chickillo

The only other former Steelers who count more than $1 million against this year’s salary cap are Ramon Foster and Anthony Chickillo, who count $1.575 million and $1,097,500, respectively. Foster retired this spring and Chickillo was released back in March.

Other former Steelers on the team’s 2020 dead money list are Roosevelt Nix, Eli Rogers, Sutton Smith, Marcus Allen and quarterback Joshua Dobbs, who was traded to the Jacksonville Jaguars in September of last year when it became clear that Devlin ‘Duck’ Hodges was a viable third-string quarterback—and a less expensive option than Dobbs.

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