Steelers among teams who should be given a break if cap drops in 2021

Pittsburgh Steelers Ben Roethlisberger (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
Pittsburgh Steelers Ben Roethlisberger (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) /

The Steelers have been pushing money back to make a run at a Super Bowl. Here’s why they shouldn’t be punished if the cap drops in 2021.

If you follow the Steelers closely, it’s not hard to figure out their business model and how they work contracts in the front office. As Ben Roethlisberger gets older and approaches the final years of his career, Pittsburgh has been restructuring and backloading money in order to retain their star players and keep their team competitive in a final push for a Super Bowl.

Unfortunately, it sounds like the NFL salary cap could take a drastic drop in 2021. Adam Schefter recently spoke on the matter during his podcast. Here’s what he had to say:

"“Now I want people to think about this going forward — because it is something that the NFL and the NFLPA soon is going to have to be thinking about — and that is if there are no fans in the stands this season that would equate essentially to about on average roughly $100 million less in revenue per team for each of the 32 NFL teams in the NFL. If we multiply that $100 million by the 32 we get $3.2 billion in lost revenue, and why is that a big deal? Because the salary cap is based off the total revenue that comes in… So if there is $3.2 billion in less revenue, which is a rough number… but well within the range that is expected and as other people pointed out there are other financial losses as well, we are looking, potentially, at the salary cap dropping in 2021 by $70 to $80 million.”"

The NFL salary cap typically sees an increase of about $10 million per season, but this year, it’s possible that the cap could drop by $70 to $80 million.

Obviously, the Steelers front office wasn’t aware there would be a global pandemic in 2020 – otherwise, there’s no doubt they would have done some things differently. Players like Ben Roethlisberger, Stephon Tuitt, Joe Haden, Maurkice Pouncey, Steven Nelson, Vince Williams, and Vance McDonald have all had their contracts restructured and backloaded to allow Pittsburgh to retain their players and give them the best chance to win now in Ben’s final years.

However, these decisions could prove to be detrimental to their team. The Steelers total cap liabilities in 2021 are currently set at $186.8 million, according to Over the Cap. If the cap is to drop $70 million next season, that means they are looking at a salary cap of $116 million. Even with Cameron Heyward, JuJu Smith -Schuster, Bud Dupree, James Conner,  Matt Feiler, Mike Hilton, and others with expiring contracts after this season, Pittsburgh would still be forced to cut back big time next year.

Because of this unforeseen pandemic and potential massive loss of money, the Steelers and other high-spending NFL teams should be allowed to go over the cap next season if it drops at all. I know this means the Rooney’s digging a lot of money out of their pockets in a year where they no doubt took a financial hit.

The alternative is that Steelers will have to cut about half their team – including Ben Roethlisberger – next season just to get back under the cap.

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If the salary cap does indeed change as Adam Schefter predicts, the Eagles, Saints, Falcons, Texans, and Steelers will be some of the teams most affected. Unless these teams are given some sort of break, their franchises could be set back years because of this.