How could potential extensions effect Steelers cap situation beyond 2021?

JuJu Smith-Schuster #19 of the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images)
JuJu Smith-Schuster #19 of the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images) /
1 of 4
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) /

The Steelers are projected to have the most cap space in the NFL after this year, but with several key players due for extensions, that cap space may not be as large as it currently appears.

The Steelers are set to have significant money freed up after this season, with numerous contracts expiring. According to Over the Cap, the Steelers are projected to have $86.43 million in cap space following this season.

However, while that number seems large, the reason is a large number of their top players are playing on expiring contracts. T.J. Watt, Minkah Fitzpatrick, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Ben Roethlisberger, Joe Haden, David DeCastro, and others represent some of the key players playing in the last year of their current contracts. While the team will prioritize retaining some, the team only has so much money, and not everyone will be able to return, particularly because those that will be prioritized will be due for significant raises.

The Steelers are historically known for building through the draft, and retaining their own players, so while the cap space looks enticing now, don’t be surprised if the team follows its typical trajectory. The team will likely lock up several of these free agents early on, and look to retain whoever is a significant piece of their future while making depth signings in free agency to fill out the roster. The following represent the players the team must prioritize signing.