The Steelers were never expected to be in the mix for free agency.
In terms of cap room, the Steelers rank 26th in the league with around $5.69 million according to Over the Cap.
The future of the team’s spending looks murky. With star players on the defense in TJ Watt, Minkah Fitzpatrick, and Bud Dupree set to receive expensive contracts, the Steelers realistically can’t bring all of them back.
There are two contracts that are holding the team back from being balanced.
One is defensive end Stephon Tuitt and his five-year, $61 million contract he signed back in 2017. Including this season, he has three years left on his deal. Given that the 26-year old hasn’t played a full 16-game schedule, that is brutal.
He is scheduled to take a $14.94 million cap hit, which is the third highest on the team. His production doesn’t match the cost.
Updated with contract figure: Steelers are signing DE Stephon Tuitt to a five-year, $61 million extension, per source.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 9, 2017
Tuitt was productive in 2018 with 45 combined tackles, 5.5 sacks, and 20 quarterbacks hits. However, given how much he is being paid, you would think he is a Pro Bowler. Instead, he has never made it in six seasons.
The other contract is obvious.
Two years ago, the Steelers agreed to a two-year, $63 million contract extension with Ben Roethlisberger. Hearing the numbers will make your head spin, especially given that Big Ben played just one game last season.
When healthy, he can compete with some of the best in the league; however, he is too expensive for a 38-year old quarterback. If the Steelers don’t act fast and restructure his deal, the team is likely going to lose all three players previously mentioned.
The 2020 season could really dictate if the Steelers will remain a competitive franchise or go into a full rebuild.