Cap Class: Can the Steelers Afford Patrick Peterson?

By: G.Stryker

Patrick Peterson wants out of Arizona.  The Steelers need another lock down cornerback.  Perfect match? If heaven had a face, to me, it would be Patrick Peterson….in a Steeler jersey!

So Steeler fans are starting to talk about the numbers:  Stryker, can we afford him? Do we have to cut Le’Veon Bell?  Will we have to give up draft picks?

Let’s start with the draft pick question.  When you are weighing the cost of a draft pick, versus the talent you receive for it, the trade has to match the value of the pick.  Patrick Peterson is an all-pro cornerback, and signed to his contract through 2021, so you are getting an elite player, in his prime, for 3 years.  To me, that is a lot of positive value, because you are getting the best player in the league, at his position, and most likely would not get the same return with your late first round draft pick.  So, if Arizona wants a draft pick, I give it to them, if they want 2, I consider it carefully, but would be willing to package a high round pick with a day 3 pick.

Though the Steelers have not given up a 1st round pick for a player since before Chuck Noll started coaching, this is an instance where I would pull the trigger.  For a player that has been a pro bowler all 7 years he’s been in the league? Yes please! So yes, I’d part with a first round pick, especially if that player can turn that first round pick into position #32 in next year’s draft.  That means a Super Bowl was won, so the loss of a draft pick gained a Lombardi.

I’d prefer to package the trade with a player and a pick, since the Steelers have to drop a CB anyway, why not throw in Coty Sensabaugh to help Arizona replace their lost player?  Burns is a consideration as well, but I really like Burns learning behind 2 all pro players, and gaining confidence for future play. So hopefully Sensabaugh and a 2nd? If they want the first with Sensabaugh, I’d take that as well.

Do the Steelers have to cut Le’Veon Bell?  Simple answer: No. Thanks to Bell’s holdout, the Steelers have saved nearly $6M from Bell’s cap hit of $14.4M.  This puts the Steelers cap space at around $10.5M (and rises $855k each week Bell doesn’t report). Peterson’s salary is comparable to Bell’s, though Peterson does cost nearly $1M more than Bell.  Picking up Peterson this week, the Steelers would have to pay the remaining balance of his contract left on this season, which should be around $8M. Since that number is less than the Steelers’ cap space of $10.5, it means the Steelers would not need to cut anyone or restructure anyone to fit Peterson under the cap. In fact, there should be about $2.5M to spare.

I am not the type of person that wants to cut Bell, but financially it is an option for the Steelers.  If Peterson was picked up and Bell was cut, that cap space would only drop $1M, leaving around $9.5M to use next year in free agency.  I’d prefer Bell to play with Peterson, to add depth at the running back position, and depth is important if you are making a Super Bowl run.

So yes, the Steelers can afford Patrick Peterson today, without moving anyone.  Will they be able to make a trade? That is up to the Arizona Cardinals.

To reference the Steelers’ Salary Cap, click below.

Salary Cap

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