Steelers recent cuts were the first of many necessary steps toward success in 2024

Pittsburgh is climbing out of the salary cap hole; what roster moves could be next?

Pittsburgh Steelers, Mitch Trubisky
Pittsburgh Steelers, Mitch Trubisky / Andy Lyons/GettyImages

Pittsburgh's 2024 offseason outlook appears murky on paper. If you were to go to Over the Cap once the season ended, you would find that the Steelers were actually $16 million in the salary cap hole while needing to clear up nearly $20 million in effective cap space to account for displacement cost.

With free agency around the corner, this isn't what hopeful fans want to see. Pittsburgh wasn't close to being a true contender in 2023, and in order to get back on top, they are going to have to spend in free agency to plug some gaping roster holes. Fortunately, the salary cap situation isn't as grim as it appears.

On February 12th, the Pittsburgh Steelers made their first wave of necessary roster moves to become cap-compliant. A trio of releases saw the team officially part with QB Mitch Trubisky, OT Chukwuma Okorafor, and P Pressley Harvin III.

Though these roster moves were accompanied by a $7.7 million dead cap hit, Omar Khan and the front office were able to free up roughly $11.7 million instantly with these easy roster decisions. These were the first of many necessary steps toward fixing the roster in 2024.

What roster moves could be next for the Steelers?

With some of the easiest roster moves out of the way, the Steelers have to explore every avenue to give themselves plenty of spending cash this March in free agency. Somehow, the easiest decision hasn't been made yet, but we expect to see it coming soon.

The Steelers need to release WR Allen Robinson II. This move alone would instantly free up $10 million in cap space -- catapulting Pittsburgh out of the salary cap hole and into cap compliance. Along with Robinson, we would also expect Damontae Kazee and Mason Cole to be released to free up an additional $7.75 million in cap space.

In addition to this easy forthcoming decision, the Steelers have big decisions to make regarding the contracts of two players: DT Larry Ogunjobi and CB Patrick Peterson. Both players played big roles for the team in 2023, but neither have played up to their billing so far. Ogunjobi has a lofty cap number exceeding $13.28 million in 2024, while Peterson is on track to earn $9.775 million in the final year of his deal.

The Steelers could decide to release either player or potentially tack on voidable years in a phony extension that would allow them to move cap numbers around and free up salary cap space for the 2024 offseason. Based on the lackluster performances we have seen from both, cutting them to free up another $13 million in cap space might be the way to go.

Pittsburgh will also look to restructure and possibly extend several contracts this offseason. Cameron Heyward and Minkah Fitzpatrick each have unreasonably large cap numbers for the 2024 season, and they will likely look to free up cap space by converting some of this money into signing bonuses and kicking the can down the road with huge cap hits later on.

T.J. Watt unsurprisingly has the biggest cap number on the team in 2024 -- exceeding $30.4 million. The Steelers could restructure or even extend Watt's contract to free up significant spending money this offseason.

The combination of these moves will give Pittsburgh the cap space they need to work with in order to leave a dent in free agency. Mike Tomlin and Art Rooney II are well aware that they cannot 'run it back' with the same underwhelming roster in 2024. Big changes are coming, and many of these Steelers roster moves could be next.