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AFC North: Steelers release Mitch Trubisky, 2 starters; save space on the cap

The previous NFL season just ended with the Kansas City Chiefs winning over the San Francisco 49ers and the start of the next offseason is upon us. While teams, including the Cleveland Browns, try to find reasons to hope to beat the Chiefs, free agency and the NFL Draft loom.

The salary cap in the NFL is often the subject of overwhelming discussion between those who believe it’s the most important thing and those who say “it’s not real.” The reality is that the cap is real but flexible. It is an accounting tool.

The Pittsburgh Steelers began their accounting process the Monday after the Super Bowl by cutting three players who started for them in 2023:

  • QB Mitchell Trubisky
  • OT Chukwuma Okorafor
  • P Pressley Harvin

Trubisky was expected to count more than $7.5 million against the salary cap this season. The team will save just under $3 million, including more than $4.5 million in dead cap, with his release. Okorafor was projected to count just under $12 million against the Steelers’ cap. By releasing him, Pittsburgh saves more than $8 million against the cap.

Combined, the three moves save the team significant cap space this year, but will also lead to a dead cap hit in 2024 of over $8 million:

The Steelers could use the post-June 1 designations on Trubisky and Okorafor to save cap space in 2024, but they will have dead cap space in 2025 if they do so.

Prior to these measures, Pittsburgh was set to be $16 million over the cap. Besides the Steelers and Browns, nine other teams are currently projected to be over the cap, including the New Orleans Saints at $83.6 million.

All teams must be under the salary cap by March 13, the start of the new league year.

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