3 contracts holding the Steelers back right now

Pittsburgh can free up salary cap space, but something must be done about these three cap numbers in 2024.

New England Patriots v Pittsburgh Steelers
New England Patriots v Pittsburgh Steelers / Joe Sargent/GettyImages
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While most other teams around the league are projected to lose quality starters (or even a star player) in free agency, the Pittsburgh Steelers can take comfort in knowing that every notable starter is still under contract for the 2024 season. This is good news for a team that plans to compete and improve next season.

What's not-so-good news is that Pittsburgh is in a bit of a financial bind. Even after their first wave of roster moves (releasing Mitch Trubisky, Chukwuma Okorafor, and Pressley Harvin), the Steelers still find themselves in a salary cap hole.

Fortunately, this is one that Omar Khan can climb out of with a few more simple roster decisions. This will not only give them some breathing room, but it will also free up salary cap space to make a few signings this offseason.

However, there are three contracts on the Steelers that are eating up a great deal of the team's total cap space in 2024. These three cap hits are holding Pittsburgh back from substantial spending room this offseason.

MInkah Fitzpatrick: 4 years, $72.9 million

Minkah Fitzpatrick is in the middle of his four-year, $72.988 million contract that he signed during the 2022 offseason that made him the richest safety in the NFL. This came after earning two First-Team All-Pro honors in less than three full seasons with the Steelers.

Fitzpatrick is making $18.25 million on average in new annual money -- which is already a significant number in itself. But thanks to former GM Kevin Colbert backloading his contract in order to save more cap space in 2022 and 2023, Minkah's cap number now skyrockets to over $21.3 million in each of the next three seasons and even reaches $24.4 million in 2026.

This number is simply too high for a safety -- even for a three-time All-Pro like Fitzpatrick. If Fitzpatrick is as banged up in 2024 as he was last year, he won't earn a fraction of the lofty $14.5 million base salary he is set to receive.

Because of his extraordinarily large cap number this year, the Steelers are likely to restructure Fitzpatrick's deal a second time (they already had to restructure his contract in March of 2023 to free up cap space). Right now, Fitzpatrick's $21.355 million cap number would take up 8.7 percent of the team's total cap space. This figure is holding Pittsburgh back right now in terms of what they can do in free agency, and I would expect them to do something about it once again this offseason.