What is the Steelers' salary cap situation entering 2024?

Don't worry about Pittsburgh's salary cap situation just yet; there's plenty this team can do before free agency.

Pittsburgh Steelers, Omar Khan
Pittsburgh Steelers, Omar Khan / Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
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The Pittsburgh Steelers are set to have every notable starter return for the 2024 season. Unlike most teams, the departure of any pending free agents this offseason isn't going to have a big negative impact on the roster for next season.

At the same time, the Steelers have money tied up into a handful of players who are not currently playing up to their contracts. The other bad news is that, with so many starters under contract, Pittsburgh doesn't yet have the money to work with to make a splash in free agency.

All of that could change soon, and we already saw this team take a big step toward coming out of the salary cap hole with their first wave of roster moves. Here's everything you need to know about the Steelers' salary cap situation entering 2024.

How much cap space did the Steelers have to begin the 2024 offseason?

When the 2023 season ended, the Pittsburgh Steelers were sitting at over -$16 million in salary cap space, according to Over the Cap. In terms of effective cap space -- the amount of salary cap space after accounting for roster displacement -- this number was over -$19 million.

This isn't where any team wants to be -- especially one that has failed to make a playoff run in seven consecutive seasons. However, there are brighter horizons ahead.

How can Steelers create more salary cap space?

Pittsburgh was the first team to get ahead of the curve with some big roster moves over a month before the start of the 2024 free-agency period. Their first order of business was releasing QB Mitch Trubisky, OT Chukwuma Okorafor, and P Pressley Harvin III. These three roster moves helped the Steelers crawl from -$16 million to just -$4.3 million in the salary cap hole, per Spotrac.com.

While they are not salary cap compliant, there are plenty of moves the Steelers can make to not only climb out of this hole but to create ample cap room to make a splash in free agency.

By releasing Allen Robinson II, Pittsburgh could instantly save $10 million. Larry Ogunjobi also has a questionable contract, and the Steelers could elect to either restructure his deal or outright release him. Additionally, Mason Cole and Patrick Peterson each have cap numbers for 2024 that exceed what they should be earning. Their jobs are not secure at this point.

The Steelers could also elect to restructure the contracts of players like Minkah Fitzpatrick and T.J. Watt to create significantly more cap space. These two All-Pro players are set to have a combined cap number of over $51.7 million for the 2024 season. Restructuring their deals would allow Pittsburgh to convert much of their base salaries into a signing bonus. They would pay the price later on, but Pittsburgh would have much more money to work with right away.

Cameron Heyward could also receive an extension this offseason that could take him to the end of his career with the Steelers. Omar Khan will want to do something about Heyward's lofty $22.4 million cap number for 2024, and an extension -- one that possibly includes voidable years -- is an option.

Pittsburgh's 2024 salary cap situation might seem worrisome right now, but there are more than enough ways to free up significant cap space to leave a dent in free agency this year. The current situation is nothing new for the Steelers.

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