I’m trying to do a mock offseason to show what is realistically possible with the cap space and what can be cleared to make this team competitive for a Super Bowl again with one to two strong offseason(s).
Since I’ll be addressing all the spots on the 54 man roster in this, I’m going to use some placeholder values to make it easier to figure out what we have to spend.
Placeholder $ amount - $21.98m
- Practice Squad: $2.35m (last years cost which was higher than a bunch of other teams)
- Draft Player Pool: $9.63m (per OTC)
- Saved for In season moves: $5m-$10m (according to experts this is what the team leaves so I left $10m to be safe).
I went into this exercise looking for both value and trying to find younger free agents with upside to tap into hoping they outperform their contracts. Also tried to be realistic with what some of the team’s supposed thoughts might be. I didn’t touch the offensive line much but wanted to fix the run defense which led to me gutting the DL (convenient to do with the contracts expiring).
- CB William Jackson III
- CB Ahkello Witherspoon
- NT Montravius Adams - will try and bring back on a lower deal
- WR Gunner Olszewski
- G Kendrick Green
- DT Isaiahh Loudermilk
- CB Tre Norwood
*these are only the likely 54 man roster cuts. I also cut all the practice squad players since I used placeholders and their contracts only guarantee if elevated to the 54 man roster from my understanding.
I would also shop Trubisky and see what teams would offer. In PFF’s mock draft machine it allows you to trade players for picks and I was able to send Mitch to the NYG to reunite with Daboll for a 2023 Rd4 pick (122 overall) and a 2024 Rd4 pick.
According to the OverTheCap calculator, this provides us with $48,175,536 in total cap space.
RESTRUCTURES and EXTENSIONS
Next up, I want to do some restructures to free up some cap space. I chose to do max restructures on TJ Watt ($12.63m saved) and Cam Heyward ($7.3m saved). Cam I think they should extend and maybe they do less on TJ and restructure someone else too. I don’t know but I just wanted to do these two to make it easy.
After restructures are factored in we have a total of $74,131,370 for 2023 to use on resigning and new players.
Myles Jack I decided to restructure and add a year next year for him which enabled us to bring the salary total in 2023 down to $5.25m. Basically $2m for him (after accounting for the dead money to cut him) is a hell of a deal.
So what do we have left to fill out our roster ? $52,151,370
- - CB Cam Sutton - PFF said $25.5m/3y and I figured he would sign for $24m/3y on a slight discount. Structure it for a $5m hit this year.
- - SS Terrell Edmunds - This guy just doesn’t get any love. Safety is always a flooded market and this might be a $18m/3y with a $4m cap hit this year.
- - WR Miles Boykin - Good special teamer, let’s bring him back on a 1 year deal worth $2m
- WR Steven Sims - Low risk one year signing. $1.01m
- - TE Zach Gentry - Just kind of there type of signing. $4.5m/3y with a $1.25m hit this year and an easy cheap out in year 3 to allow flexibility.
- C/G JC Hassenauer - $1.01m
- - LS Christian Kuntz - $940k
- - LB Robert Spillane - Dude is necessary when facing more run oriented teams. I don’t see other teams valuing him the same as we do though. A team friendly 2y deal for $4m with a $1.5m hit this year sounds about right.
- - S Damontae Kazee - I really liked what he brought to the team in the 3 safety sets but he was injured and suspended for the first part of the year which should drive down his value. Safety is a position which is easily found in the market so if we can get him with a team friendly structure for $9m over 3 years with a low cap hit of $1.5m this year and a couple of low $ void years to smooth it out.
So we spent $18.21m on retaining players. Unfortunately I had to part ways with Larry O. I would love to keep him but he priced himself out of our range.
We now have a total of of $33,941,370 to spend on outside free agents.
Now the fun part boys…let’s go shopping!
OUTSIDE FREE AGENTS
- -NT DaRon Payne - I’m breaking my rules and backing up the Brinks truck. It’s not often a guy this young and talented hits the open market. 4 years $80m total with $55m guaranteed is what PFF projects and I tend to agree. Massage the cap hit down to $12m in 2023 and we’re in business. $21.941left to spend
- - LB Germaine Pratt - I looked at a few different players here but Pratt was a draft crush a few years ago and a great coverage LB. Honestly his value on PFF is $8.25m/yr but I could see him fetch up to $10m/yr so I’ll go with that. Cap hit this year needs to be around $6m. $15.941m left to spend
- - G Nate Davis - if they’re going to fortify the left guard position it won’t be through the draft. Upgrading the spot next to Dan Moore is going to provide benefits for him as well. 3 years $21m with a cap hit in 2024 of $5m. $10.941m left to spend
- - QB Josh Dobbs - why not? $1.25m well spent for a rocket scientist. $9.691m left
- - EDGE Ogbonnia Okoronkwo - I can’t see this team makimg the same mistake of at least not having someone half decent here for if/when Watt or Highsmith get injured. I really like Arden Key here but he might be out of my price range. Enter Okoronkwo at a $11m over 2 year PFF valuation. I need this first year cap hit to come in at $3m to make it work. You can read more on him here. https://www.bigblueview.com/platform/amp/2018/4/15/17231626/2018-nfl-draft-prospect-profile-obonnia-okoronkwo-edge-oklahoma-scouting-report-ny-giants $6.691m left
- - OT Cameron Fleming - Swing tackle coverage for $5m over 2 years. Cap charge if $1.5m in 2023. $5.191m remaining
- - DT Sheldon Rankins - Need another biggie to fill the trenches and he’s the type of player the Steelers love to take a chance on. PFF thinks he can be had for $12m over 2 years. I would agree if we could get year 1 to $4m which would fit us in under the cap with $1.191 remaining we can add to our pot for in season flexibility/any draft trades we need to add $ for.
Now it’s time to draft!
1:17- traded to LAC for 1:21, 3:85, 5:156
Yup that’s right. Mr Rooney said they’re doing things differently this year and here we are. In this mock there’s a lot of quality guys left so moving back 4 spots isn’t going to hurt much but might pin in their decision.
1:21(LAC)- CB Devon Witherspoon (Ill)
Not the first CB off the board but somehow the Steelers get great value here. In the last 4 picks since the trade we saw the linked of OL Peter Skoronski, WR Jordan Addison and another CB Cam Smith go. Maybe CB1 for many in a really good class: Let’s just say if the measureables don’t fully add up he could drop a few spots but the guy will still be a dog.
2:32(CHI)-OT Darnell Wright (Tenn)
Measureables galore here. Not the largest OT prospect this year but would be in many others. Could he move inside to guard? Maybe maybe not. He performed well in the SEC against top competition.
2:49- LB Daiyan Henley (WashSt)
We picked up one excellent coverage LB in free agency but it never hurts to draft another one. Henley is a former WR who can mirror guys in man coverage. Still has good size (weighed in at 230lbs in Mobile) that an NFL strength coach will add some weight to. Can his coverage chops stay strong with an extra 10lbs on his frame is the question.
3:80- WR Dontayvion Wicks (UVa)
A catch everything type guy with a huge wingspan. Some issues with drops this year in a new offense but plays with fight - physical blocker and will fight for balls. A personal draft crush. https://thedraftnetwork.com/sr-prospect/dontayvion-wicks-5ece6fda-a69c-4c4b-98f2-39866b00a30a/
3:85(LAC)- NT Keeanu Benton (Wisc)
I think this guy is pretty much everyone’s draft crush. I feel like I don’t have to say anything else
4:119-TE Luke Schoonmaker (Mich)
Stop me if you have heard this before…big bodied tight end who is a more than capable blocker was underutilized in their college offense’s passing game. If you tell me in the late 4th we are getting a good blocking TE who can run out and sit in zones as a security blanket I’d ask where I needed to sign.
4:122(NYG)-EDGE DJ Johnson (Oregon)
A lot of people don’t know this name but they should. I think he’s going to be a great choice and available in round 4. https://thedraftnetwork.com/sr-prospect/dj-johnson-1cfc72f5-1350-49b9-a7c4-70580d4c31b5/
5:152- traded to SEA for A Witherspoon
5:156(LAC)- NB Jartavius Martin (Ill)
Could we finally have a Mike Hilton replacement but someone who can also cover? Quan Martin is exactly what you’re looking for.
6:194- traded to DEN for M Reed
7:236(DEN)- OT Carter Warren (Pitt)
Warren’s grade is all over the place but with the injury preventing him from participating in the combine, it’s understandable to think he drops this far. Total steal. I wouldn’t mind if they snagged him earlier but I think they wait a bit. Could he move inside to guard? He will have some time to learn behind this line.
7:248 - QB Jake Haener (FresnoSt)
Average size maybe more akin to Jake from State Farm (6’1 sub 200lbs)… Jake from Fresno State is a true gamer with the unapologetic gunslinger gene. I liked Brock Purdy for the last 2 draft cycles (Pat myself on the back) and I like Haener now so I’m going with him here on the gut feeling. I think he falls due to size and lack of arm strength (he can still zip balls into tight windows though) to the 7th. DTR from UCLA has been followed by the staff supposedly so I could go with him here too https://thedraftnetwork.com/sr-prospect/jake-haener-d9059b47-4403-4237-bcdf-b79d00a69c48/
WR Bryce Fod-Wheaton (WVU)
DT Cory Durden (NCSt)
C Michael Jurgens (Wake Forest)
RB Taviom Thomas (Utah)
LB Micah Baskerville (LSU)
So in this exercise I decided Darnell Wright was good enough to be the starting right tackle in pre season and decided to trade Chuks Okorafor for a 2024 Rd4 pick. While we will need to add another player to the roster to compensate, the added bonus of a pick + about $8m in cap flexibility was too good to pass up. To compensate I’m just going to say they pick up a random late cut tackle for $2m.
This provides them with roughly $18m of flexibility overall. Do they save it for next year to offset some of the restructures? Do they go out to fortify the defensive backfield with a late cut DB (like they did with Joe Haden and Philly did with James Bradberry this last season)? I don’t know. But the cap will be a bit more challenging in 2024 with escalating salaries (from low first year cap hits) and the need to resign Alex Highsmith to a bigger deal. They shouldn’t have any issues giving him about $16m/yr in this scenario (and even giving James Daniels an extension too) but we won’t be seeing the free agency period like we did this year. I wanted to get good quality young players under team control and figured the prime SB window would open in 2024 for about 3 seasons so keeping this core together during that time is paramount.
I hope everyone sees the ability this organization has to add high end pieces to the lineup to get back to winning the division quickly. If I’ve messed anything up please let me know cause I know you all will eat me alive :).