How much will Pat Freiermuth make in 2024 (and when can he sign an extension)?

  • How much will Freiermuth make in 2024?
  • When can he sign an extension with the Steelers?
  • What could a new contract look like?

New England Patriots v Pittsburgh Steelers
New England Patriots v Pittsburgh Steelers / Joe Sargent/GettyImages

The Pittsburgh Steelers are about to enter a very interesting situation when it comes to the contract of Pat Freiermuth. After his first two seasons in the league, it looked like the Penn State product was trending toward becoming a top-5 player in the NFL at his position, but things quickly took a turn for the worst.

In Freiermuth's second NFL season in 2022, the former second-round pick recorded 63 receptions for 732 yards. This marked the first time in NFL history that a tight end had managed back-to-back 60-reception seasons to open his NFL career.

In 2023, however, Freiermuth was plagued with a hamstring injury that forced him to miss significant time. When he was on the field, he was seldom used as a receiving threat. This ultimately resulted in just 32 receptions for 308 yards and 2 touchdowns in 12 games last season. His collection of injuries (which includes a history of concussions) could cause him to lose out on millions on his next extension).

Now the Steelers are entering a tough situation and they have a decision they will soon have to make regarding Freiermuth's contract. Here's everything you need to know.

What is Pat Freiermuth's cap number in 2024?

Because he is still on his rookie deal, Pat Freiermuth has a low cap number of just over $1.91 million in 2024, according to Over the Cap. This includes $1.48 million in base salary and just $436k in signing bonuses.

Freiermuth's cap number for the 2024 season ranks just 37th among NFL tight ends and the final year of his contract will take up just 0.7 percent of Pittsburgh's total cap space this season.

When can Pat Freiermuth sign an extension with the Steelers?

Now that Freiermuth is entering the final year of his rookie contract, the Pittsburgh Steelers may elect to negotiate an extension with their starting tight end at any point. In rare cases, some NFL teams are open to beginning contract negotiations with their best players before the last year of a player's deal. Freiermuth won't be an exception to how Pittsburgh typically does business.

Because Freiermuth was not a former first-round pick, the Steelers do not have the ability to give him a fifth-year option. This means that he will officially become an unrestricted free agent in March of 2025 if no extension is agreed upon and the front office chooses not to use the franchise tag on him next offseason.

What could a Pat Freiermuth extension look like?

When it comes to predicting NFL contracts, most are relatively easy to figure out. We have access to multiple databases that show every NFL player's contract numbers in great detail. However, because of the injuries and regression in Freiermuth's production, finding a perfect estimation becomes a bit trickier.

Through the first three seasons of his NFL career, Freiermuth has remarkably similar production to T.J. Hockenson over his first three seasons -- right down to total yardage, touchdowns, receptions, and even the number of snaps played. Hockenson signed a four-year, $66 million contract in 2023.

It is worth noting that this came just after a breakout season in 2022 in which Hockenson managed 86 receptions for 914 yards and 6 touchdowns. Unless Freiermuth follows suit in 2024, he won't see an average annual earnings of $16.5 million on his next deal.

If Freiermuth gets an extension before the 2024 season, the numbers are likely to be similar to those of players like Evan Engram and David Njoku. This would pay Freiermuth $13.5 to $14 million annually -- jumping into the top 10 highest-paid tight ends in the NFL.

If the Steelers wait and try to sign their starting tight end after the 2024 season, Freiermuth does not need to comply if the contract talks are too far off, as he would have the ability to test the free agent market. Pittsburgh could prevent him from doing so by using the franchise tag, but there's no guarantee they would get him locked up to a long-term deal.

All contract numbers courtesy of Over the Cap.