5 highest-paid Steelers players going into 2024

Pittsburgh has some substantial salary cap numbers in 2024, but none higher than these five players.
Pittsburgh Steelers v Seattle Seahawks
Pittsburgh Steelers v Seattle Seahawks / Conor Courtney/GettyImages

The Pittsburgh Steelers have been criticized for spending too much money on the defensive side of the football and not enough on offense. What fans need to understand is that these contract numbers reflect where the talent is on the team.

Right now, most of the notable offensive starters are on rookie contracts or one-year deals. The dynamic could soon change and we could see the money shift back to the offense, but there are no denying the massive contracts the team has handed out on defense in recent years.

Omar Khan still has some salary cap space to work with, but with how many free agents the Steelers are expected to have in 2025, he may be looking to roll some of this over into next offseason. Lucrative contracts can make things tricky, but you can't have a good team if the front office isn't willing to fork up to keep their best players around.

There are different ways to approach contract numbers. Guaranteed salary is an important detail as is a player's average annual earnings. For this article, however, let's dissect the five highest-paid players on the team in 2024 based on their cap numbers for the upcoming season.

5. James Daniels, OG

With a cap number of over $11.16 million for the 2024 season, James Daniels barely edges out fellow guard Isaac Seumalo as the team's fifth-highest-paid player this year. There has been much discussion about Daniels's future in Pittsburgh beyond 2024, and according to a report from Mark Kaboly of The Athletic, the Steelers are prepared to let him play out the year and hit free agency.

Daniels has been a solid free-agent acquisition. Though he didn't show major improvements in his second season with the Steelers last year, the offensive line should have more talent and stability in 2024. Remarkably, Daniels is still just 26 years old entering his 7th NFL season.

4. Larry Ogunjobi, DL

It's easy to argue that Larry Ogunjobi doesn't deserve to be one of the five highest-paid players on the team in 2024. I would agree with you. The veteran defensive lineman took a step back last season and was routinely washed out of running plays. Even as an interior pass rusher, the Steelers didn't get the spark they were expecting.

Ogunjobi signed a three-year, $28.75 million extension with the team last offseason, and because of the way the Steelers structured his contract, he has a lofty cap number of over $13.28 million for the 2024 season. This is far more than the team should be dishing out to a mediocre starter.

3. Minkah Fitzpatrick, S

Now we get into the trio of Steelers All-Pros. Minkah Fitzpatrick is coming off a down year, but this was largely due to the fact that he was plagued with injuries in 2023. Fitzpatrick went down with a hamstring injury early in the season, before sustaining a knee injury late in the year.

In the games he did play, he didn't have much opportunity to make plays on the ball. Minkah is set to have a substantial cap number of over $21.35 million for the 2024 season. Paying safeties seems like a questionable strategy in today's NFL, and Minkah will have to take the ball away often to live up to his billing.

2. Cameron Heyward, DL

Just above Minkah Fitzpatrick's enormous cap number is veteran defensive lineman, Cameron Heyward. The three-time First-Team All-Pro and Walter Payton Man of the Year has a cap number of over $22.40 million for the 2024 season.

This is the final season of Heyward's four-year $65.6 million contract extension he signed back in 2020, and he's looking for another big payday that could take him until the end of his career. Last year, Heyward missed nearly half the season with a groin injury, and he needs to prove that he can stay on the field at 35 years old.

1. T.J. Watt, EDGE

To nobody's surprise, T.J. Watt is the highest-paid player on the team with the biggest cap number in 2024. Watt is set to have a cap number of over $30.41 million in 2024 -- accounting for 11.8 percent of the team's total salary cap this year.

It's hard to say that Watt isn't deserving, however, as the defense lives and dies by his availability. With another outstanding season as he continues on a Hall of Fame pace, Watt could reset the edge defender market with a lucrative contract extension during the 2025 offseason.

All contract numbers courtesy of Over the Cap.