If you have been a long time reader of this site, you know that the signing of Max Starks and subsequent release of Jonathan Scott are in no way a surprise to me. It wasn\’t a matter of if it was going to happen, just a matter of when, in my opinion.
Now that both of those moves are out of the way, the roster of the Pittsburgh Steelers is back at 89 players. Starks has let it be known that he will most likely start training camp on what is called the Active PUP list. Once again, not surprising at all being as he is just 6 months removed from his surgery. Starks will spend the beginning portion of camp further rehabilitating his knee and ramping up his conditioning.
With Scott now jettisoned, and Starks unable to practice at the start of camp, the Steelers certainly might need another body at tackle for training camp. Currently their healthy tackles on the roster are Marcus Gilbert, Mike Adams, Trai Essex, Chris Scott and Kyle Jolly. Seventh round draft pick Kelvin Beachum played left tackle at SMU, but the word has already come down that he has made the move inside to guard.
With the above said, there is a good chance that the Steelers might sign another tackle to fill the 90th roster spot prior to the start of training camp. If they do, it certainly will not be a big name veteran with a high price tag. Any veteran signed would have to agree to a one-year qualifying offer for his accrued years minimum with no signing bonus. The most probable addition of a tackle would likely come in the form of another undrafted free agent type from the 2010 or 2011 draft that is still on the street.
I was asked via email this afternoon if there was a chance that Scott could be re-signed. I suppose that is possible if not picked up first by another team, but think that it is very highly unlikely to happen. I know what many of you are asking in response to that. If they were going to keep him, why not just cut his base salary instead of releasing him? Maybe they tried to do that, and maybe he asked to be released to see if he could land a job elsewhere first. Who really knows?
One thing is for certain, and that is that the Steelers needed that $2.2 million base salary he was costing them to go towards a new long-term deal they are working on with restricted free agent wide receiver Mike Wallace. The Steelers simply could not risk Scott getting injured in camp and having to eat the full $2.7 million against the cap while waiting to try and get a deal done with Wallace.
Cutting Scott created a $500K dead money charge against the 2012 cap now. There was no way around that and that money is long gone. Should Scott not receive any attention from other teams now that he is a free agent, sure, the Steelers could sign him back for the veteran minimum and not give him a signing bonus. That would make him a risk free add at this point outside of the $825,000 he could wind up costing them were he to go on injured reserve with an injury. They could get an undrafted free agent, however, for only $390,000 and that salary would not even crack the Rule of 51 number. Bringing back Scott on the other hand, would.
So now you can see why Scott was cut prior to training camp and why he is unlikely to be brought back now, even for the minimum. If indeed another tackle is added, I expect it to be a low priced camp body type. We should have our answer pretty soon, I would think.