The Raiders will assume a hefty cap charge under Antonio Brown‘s name this year, for obvious reasons. The Steelers, who no longer will be employing Brown as of 4:00 p.m. ET on Wednesday, will assume a hefty cap charge, too.
When the poo initially hit the propellor between Brown and the Steelers more than two months ago, we broke down his contract from all angles. For the Steelers, the most important angle is now this: Of their 2019 cap space, $21.12 million of it will be devoted to Brown.
That number comes from the remaining balance of his $19 million signing bonus from two years ago ($11.4 million) and his restructuring bonus from 2018 of $12.96 million ($9.72 million).
Last year’s payment created $9.72 million in 2018 cap room for the Steelers, and ultimately did nothing for Brown other than convert his base salary into a guaranteed payment (as if the Steelers would have cut him). According to the terms of his most recent Steelers contract, the $12.96 million bonus earned in March was paid out in 17 weekly installments during the regular season, just as it would have been without the restructuring.
If the Steelers had kept Brown, his cap number would have been $22.165 million. But the Steelers quite possibly would have approached him about another cap-room restructuring — something he likely would have accepted if the relationship hadn’t imploded late last year.
As it stands, the Steelers will save more than $15 million in cash, which can go to other players.
Still, the cap hit is a major one, and the fact that the Steelers became so willing to absorb it shows how motivated they were to trade him.