Yesterday it was reported that TE Heath Miller restructured his contract to help the injury riddled Steelers find the cap space to sign replacements for the three injured players. For those curious Miller converted $3 million of his salary into a prorated bonus, thus freeing up $1.5 million in cap room.
The Steelers had almost no choice but to restructure another contract. Coming into Tuesday, Pittsburgh only had around $1.5 million in cap space available to use during the season. Season ending injuries to LB Larry Foote, RB LaRod Stephens-Howling, and C Maurkice Pouncey saw the Steelers’ Active roster drop from 53 to 50 players. None of these contracts contained split salaries to provide for salary cap relief in the event of injury. To make matters worse K Shaun Suisham injured his hamstring and is expected to miss time, forcing them to carry two kickers on the roster.
This “doomsday” scenario illustrates many of the items we have discussed in regard to the importance of salary cap space during the season and why teams often sit on unused cap room. The cost to replace those players is at least $1,143,529 and that figure would be if you replaced them with rookies. Considering the injured players are two starters and a split starter as well as the Steelers’ general construction it is unrealistic to consider them signing anyone except capable veteran players and that comes at a price- at least $555,000 per player on a minimum salary benefit style contract.
The Steelers signings of RB Johnathan Dwyer, C Fernando Velasco, and K Shayne Graham cost the team $1,637,647 in cap space, meaning they could not have executed the moves without restructuring Miller’s contract. The Steelers, even after the restructure, only have $1.38 million in cap space. If their run of bad luck continues expect the team to have to restructure more contracts just to function in 2013.
Jason is the founder of OTC and has been studying NFL contracts and the salary cap for over 15 years. Jason has co-authored two books about the NFL, Crunching Numbers and the Drafting Stage, which are widely circulated in the industry and hosts the OTC Podcast. Jason’s work has been featured in various publications including the Sporting News, Sports Illustrated, NFL Network and more. OTC is widely considered the leading authority on contract matters in the NFL.