Current Steelers under contract who won’t be in Pittsburgh next season
The NFL offseason is in full swing with a majority of the league now watching from home as their front offices get into their “busy” part of the year.
We won’t know figures until the NFL releases the official 2024 salary cap, but Over the Cap has the Steelers currently sitting an estimated $15.6 over their 2024 salary cap. In order to get under the cap, and have any hope of making future moves in free agency, the team will have to make some business decisions in the coming weeks.
That means some players on the 2023 roster will be looking for a new home in 2024. Here is my educated guess on which players the organization will part ways with as the business of football gets underway.
Trubisky is an enigma, in that he probably shouldn’t have returned to the Steelers last season. With a $10 million cap savings on the books if the team cut him, somehow he made a deal with GM Omar Khan for a multi-year extension that reduced his number by about half for 2023.
The problem? It also created extra dead money where the former second-overall pick of the Chicago Bears in 2017 now accounts for $7.5 and $8.3 million in cap charges through 2025.
Following inconsistent play with four touchdowns to five interceptions over a three-plus game stretch, and ascent of Mason Rudolph proving he could do everything better, it’s unlikely the Steelers stick with Trubisky this offseason. Khan can gain about $9 million in cap savings over the next two seasons while eating about $7 million in dead space by moving on: which is the likely scenario, as there shouldn’t be one where the Steelers want Trubisky under center again.
The writing is on the wall for the former 2018 third-round pick, who lost his job in-season to rookie Broderick Jones.
Okorafor is on record saying he wants to be a starter in the NFL, but that isn’t likely to happen with the Steelers. Accounting towards $11.8 million of the team’s salary cap in 2024, Pittsburgh can recoup $8.75 million by releasing the offensive tackle before June 1st.
Robinson was able to stay healthy for a full season for the first time since 2020, but his numbers didn’t impress in 2023 with the Steelers: 34 receptions for 280 yards and no touchdowns.
Robinson’s yards-per-catch dipped below double digits for the first time in his career and he was an afterthought, mostly, in an offense that struggled for three quarters of the season.
Acquired in a trade where his former team, the Los Angeles Rams, paid for part of his contract, Robinson comes in with a reported near $12 million cap charge for 2024. With a savings of $10 million, the only way the 30-year-old veteran will return is if he takes a reduction in pay.
Three More To Watch
One area the Steelers definitely want to improve in this offseason is protecting their quarterbacks and improving their ability to run the football. In order to do so, they must win in the trenches.
While a lot of folks have their eyes sharply fixed on the defensive side of the ball, and rightfully so (Cameron Heyward is due $22 million this season) it’s the offensive side that may see more drastic changes.
Starting center Mason Cole saves the team $4.75 million on their salary cap while reserve guard Nate Herbig, who played sparingly in 2023, saves them $4 million. While not tremendous numbers, those figures could be salvaged to pony up for another player or two to secure multi-year deals.
CB Patrick Peterson, who turns 34 in July, could save the team $6.8 million of his $9.7 million cap hit if released as well.
In all, if the Steelers make the first three moves listed: releasing Trubisky, Okorafor, and Robinson, that will save them nearly $22 million in cap space for the 2024 season. However, that only moves the needle with about $7 million in space, which will be quickly absorbed by incoming rookies.
The aforementioned move with 35-year-old Cam Heyward frees up $22 million if he’s released outright; I believe a deal may get done, possibly an extension to help pad that blow.
Larry Ogunjobi eats more dead money than he does savings in 2024, keeping him relatively safe on the roster. Other highly paid players could see their contracts restructured, such as T.J. Watt and Minkah Fitzpatrick. WR Diontae Johnson is another one to watch, as his $15.8 million hit lands in the final year of his current deal. He saves the team $10 million but that can also be spread out if they find him valuable enough to extend.