Looking At The Steelers Decision To Waive Alameda Ta\’amu & The Risk Involved

The Pittsburgh Steelers promoted wide receiver David Gilreath from the practice squad to the 53 man roster on Monday and waived rookie nose tackle Alameda Ta\’amu to make room for him.

So why Ta\’amu as opposed to someone like quarterback Charlie Batch or backup linebackers Brandon Johnson or Adrian Robinson instead? Have the Steelers really given up on Ta\’amu already?

For starters, I am willing to bet that this decision was not an easy one to make, but several factors likely played into it.

Now that the trade deadline has passed, Batch would have had to have been exposed to the waiver process. Prior to the trade deadline they could have just gave him a wink-wink and brought him back after the weekend. They simply did not want to risk another team such as the Indianapolis Colts, Baltimore Ravens, or the Arizona Cardinals swooping in and claiming him off waivers.

With linebackers Stevenson Sylvester and Chris Carter both injured heading into the Monday night game, the Steelers had no choice but to keep both Johnson and Robinson. Besides, they really appear to be high on Robinson for the long-term, and with good reason.

Kelvin Beachum, you ask? With Marcus Gilbert still out, Beachum is the seventh offensive lineman that dresses on game day, so no way were they going to release him and go with just six.

So that brings us back to Ta\’amu, who has yet to be active on game day and still has legal issues that surround him in addition. One thing that I overlooked, that I noticed listed in the official NFL transaction report that I get from the league, is that Ta\’amu was listed as having a partially guaranteed contract. Ah, ha.

When a player is claimed off waivers, the team that claims that player is responsible for picking up his contract, guaranteed portions and all. With the current legal uncertainty surrounding the Washington product, combined with the fact that a portion of his contract is guaranteed, it might be enough to prevent any team from claiming him off waivers.

Should no team put in a claim on Ta\’amu, he will be considered a free agent after 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday. At that point he is free to negotiate with any team with no contract restrictions attached for either. Will the Steelers attempt to sign him to their practice squad on Tuesday? More than likely that is what they are betting on, but another team could certainly offer him a deal to sign with them instead.

Minus the legal issues, this is somewhat similar to what happened with linebacker Thaddeus Gibson a few years ago. The Steelers had a tough decision to make due to injuries and Gibson was the low man on the totem pole. They had hoped he would clear waivers so that they could sign him back to the practice squad, but the San Francisco 49ers claimed him instead.

Should Ta\’amu not make it back to the Steelers practice squad it would mean that the team wasted a fourth round pick on him. The Steelers also were forced to give up their sixth round pick in the trade with the Washington Redskins to move up the 10 spots to draft Ta\’amu in addition.

We should have our answer to all of this by Tuesday evening.

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