Steelers Urged to Offer Contract Extension to Cut Candidate

Mike Tomlin

Getty Head coach Mike Tomlin and the Pittsburgh Steelers are being encouraged to re-sign one of their cut candidates instead of releasing him.

The Pittsburgh Steelers could save $8 million against the salary cap by releasing inside linebacker Myles Jack this offseason.

But Bleacher Report Kristopher Knox argued on January 28 that Jack should be a candidate to receive a contract extension rather than his release this offseason.

“Releasing Jack would save $8 million off the 2023 cap but would also potentially leave Pittsburgh looking to fill multiple holes at the second level,” wrote Knox. “Extending Jack could reduce his base salary from $8 million to a league-minimum $1.2 million, leaving the linebacker in place and still saving Pittsburgh $5.8 million in cap space.”

Jack signed a two-year, $16 million contract with the Steelers last offseason. But in 2023, he is set to count as an $11.25 million cap hit.

Pros to Steelers Keeping Jack With Extension

While a majority of Pittsburgh sports media appears to expect the Steelers to cut Jack, Knox’s reasons for keeping Jack make sense.

Knox noted that the Steelers are already potentially losing two inside linebackers — Devin Bush and Robert Spillane — to free agency. Departing with Jack as well would mean the Steelers not having an inside linebacker who played more than 5% of the team’s defensive snaps in 2022 returning next season.

That’s far from ideal.

Jack didn’t deliver as many big plays as he did with the Jacksonville Jaguars, but he was solid in 2022, recording 104 combined tackles, including 3 tackles for loss, 1 quarterback hit and 3 pass defenses. Injuries slowed him toward the end of the season, but Jack started 13 games and played in two other contests.

At inside linebacker, Jack led the Steelers with 692 defensive snaps. That was almost 40 more than Bush and about 100 more than Spillane.

Jack’s 104 combined tackles, including 61 solos, was first among all Steelers defenders in 2022.

Steelers Other Options at Inside Linebacker

An argument can be made for Jack to return to the Steelers. But for the Pittsburgh defense to take a step forward, it may be necessary to first move on from Jack.

Knox’s contract extension proposal for Jack assumes he’s willing to renegotiate his deal to league minimum. That’s a big assumption for a linebacker who has posted 100-plus tackles for three straight seasons.

Even so, cutting Jack instead of extending him with Knox’s proposal opens up an additional $2.2 million in cap space for the Steelers.

Spotrac projected Pittsburgh to be about $3.35 million over the predicted salary cap. Every little savings will matter for the Steelers this offseason.

Cutting Jack could open up a spot for a big free agent splash signing such as inside linebacker Tremaine Edmunds. Rumors have circled around the Steelers over the past several weeks that Edmunds will be a target for the team in free agency.

The Steelers could also potentially draft an inside linebacker early in the NFL draft. While that position hasn’t been mentioned much in mock drafts for the Steelers, in addition to their first-round pick, the Steelers hold two second-round choices where they could target Jack’s successor.

Second-year linebacker Mark Robinson could be due to play a bigger role next season too. He started the final two games of the season.

Without Jack, the Steelers would lack a veteran presence in the middle of their defense. For that, though, they could consider re-signing Spillane, who had just a $2.43 million cap hit in 2022.

One thing is for certain — the Steelers will very likely be doing something with Jack’s contract this offseason. The question is whether to extend him as Knox suggested or maximize the salary cap savings with an outright release for Jack.

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