When it comes to the Pittsburgh Steelers salary cap, there’s good news and bad news. The good news is that the Steelers have $23,106,733 in available cap space for 2022 (per overthecap.com), not including the one-year deal signed on June 22 by defensive lineman Larry Ogunjobi, which is said to be valued up to $8 million. That said, the Steelers still have room to sign or trade for more veteran players, with better depth still needed at outside linebacker, offensive tackle and running back.
But Pittsburgh would have even more cap space available, if not for the fact that they have the eighth-most dead money in the NFL (per USA Today), with $30,863,174 allotted to players who are no longer on the team. That’s not an unreasonable amount, at least as compared to the Atlanta Falcons, who have a league-high $63,209,458 in dead money, with quarterback Matt Ryan responsible for more than $40 million all by himself. But that $30 million-plus leaves them at a distinct competitive disadvantage compared to the other teams in the AFC North.
– The Browns are middle of the pack in terms of dead money, with $18,793,055.
– The Ravens are No. 22 in the league with a relatively modest $12,066,879.
– The defending AFC champion Bengals are No. 24 with just $9,609,245.
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Ben Roethlisberger Accounts for One-Third of the Dead Money
There are eight former Steelers players who count against the team’s 2022 salary cap, headlined by retired quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who is responsible for $10.34 million of the $30,863,174.
As noted by NFL.com’s 2022 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…. If there is dead money in a player’s contract and he is released or retires, that charge will accelerate onto the team’s salary cap for the current year.”
Had the Steelers not re-worked Roethlisberger’s contract last year, he would be off the books. But as a consequence of reducing his 2021 cap hit from $41.25 million to $25.91 million, the Steelers still need to account for the prorated portion of his signing bonus ($10.34 million).
It’s similar to the situation with former Steelers tight end Eric Ebron, who counts $3.904 million in 2022 because the team added four voidable years to his contract in March 2021.
The Steelers also included four voidable years in the one-year, $8 million contract that wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster inked last March, leaving the Steelers with a $5.6 million dead cap charge for 2022.
Stephon Tuitt’s Retirement Created a $5 Million Charge
Meanwhile, the recent retirement of 29-year-old defensive end Stephon Tuitt triggered a $4,925,750 dead money charge. Then there’s the $2.34 million linked to edge rusher Melvin Ingram, who was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs last November in exchange for a sixth-round pick.
The three other players on Pittsburgh’s dead money list were all released with at least a year left on their contracts, namely: linebacker Joe Schobert ($1.888 million); right tackle Zach Banner ($1.625 million); and 2021 sixth-round pick Quincy Roche ($109,932).
Schobert and Banner remain unsigned, though Schobert recently had a tryout with the New Orleans Saints.
Roche was waived by the Steelers last August and subsequently claimed by the New York Giants. He went on to appear in 14 games for the Giants (with three starts), playing 401 defensive snaps and 109 special teams snaps while contributing 38 tackles, including five tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, five quarterback hits and a forced fumble, as per Pro Football Reference.
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