2016 Cap Analytics: Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers possess six contracts – Timmons, Brown, Pouncey, Miller, Mitchell and Gilbert – that include more prorated signing bonus in 2016 than scheduled at the time of signing due to cap-related restructurings, a number that few teams can match.  The team’s salary cap management approach clearly skews toward maximizing the current roster at the potential expense of future rosters, an approach that creates a greater pressure to draft successfully than is faced by most teams.

The team’s salary cap management approach also includes heavily concentrating guaranteed money in the form of signing bonus, leading to a #1 ranking in Nick Korte’s proration ratio.  This is helpful from a player’s perspective because it creates additional dead money protection in the later years of the contract, leading to higher Expected Contract Values.  It is also less efficient from the team’s perspective because prorated signing bonus amounts represent potential dead money that cannot be traded, whereas guaranteed base salaries or roster bonuses can be traded to other teams (likely along with draft picks in order to convince a trade partner to accept the presumably undesirable contract). These types of trades are not yet common, but all else being equal, additional flexibility is generally preferable.

Expected Contract OutcomesExpected Contract Value 2.0 utilizes an algorithm based on a player’s contract characteristics, age, position and 2015 performance to forecast probabilities as to the outcomes of contract termination decisions.   The lower the Expected Outcome, the more likely the player’s contract will be terminated in 2016.  A pay cut is treated as a termination.  We have applied ECV 2.0 to all contracts scheduled to count $2 million or more against the 2016 salary cap with the exception of exercised 5th year rookie options.  Expected Savings is the calculated by multiplying the probability a player will be released by the cap savings realized by the team upon such release.

PlayerPositionExpected OutcomeExpected Savings
Bud DupreeF799.9%($5,832)
Ryan ShazierF799.8%($5,445)
Cameron HeywardF798.9%$8,560
Antonio BrownREC98.9%$20,852
Marcus GilbertOL98.7%($23,718)
Jarvis JonesF797.9%$0
Ben RoethlisbergerQB95.7%($36,890)
Mike MitchellDB92.3%$113,677
Arthur MoatsF784.1%$297,547
Lawrence TimmonsF778.5%$1,883,000
Maurkice PounceyOL64.2%($376,763)
Cortez AllenDB51.2%$829,430
Shaun SuishamKP37.1%$121,987
Heath MillerREC14.3%$3,427,200
DeAngelo WilliamsRB13.8%$1,725,000
Expected Change in Cap Room+$7,978,605


True Cap SpaceRealizable Cap Space depicts the total amount of salary cap space potentially at the team’s disposal in 2016, and True Cap Space makes further adjustments to take into consideration amounts that are accounted for in practical terms.  Most True Cap Space will be used on players currently under contract as a result of the team choosing to not release them.

True Cap Space (2016)
Adjusted Salary Cap$153,000,327
Prorated Signing Bonus Amounts($42,582,078)
Realizable Cap Space$110,418,249
Fully Guaranteed Salary($4,347,468)
Minimum Salary Cap Holds($22,050,000)
True Cap Space$84,020,781
League Rank20th

Commitment Index – Commitment Index identifies the degree to which a team has “mortgaged its future” by measuring its net future salary cap commitments as a percentage of the average net future salary cap commitments of all teams.  A Commitment Index Score of 100% is average, and a negative Commitment Index Score indicates that the team has more current salary cap space than future salary cap commitments.  The Commitment Index Score of every team in the league changes to at least some degree with every transaction executed by any team in the league, so Commitment Index Score is measured as of a specific point in time (in this case, January 11, 2016). 

Commitment Index (2017+)
Prorated Signing Bonus Amounts$56,623,178
Fully Guaranteed Salary$4,092,128
Current Cap Space($9,797,842)
Net Commitment$52,917,464
Commitment Index Score306%
League Rank (1st = Most Committed)6TH