If you’re like me, you pay close attention to the salary cap casualties that happen just prior to the start of each new league year as there’s always a few interesting players that become unemployed every offseason at around this time. In fact, just today we saw the Carolina Panthers cut safety Kurt Coleman and defensive end Charles Johnson and the Chicago Bears part ways with outside linebacker Pernell McPhee and safety Quintin Demps. Inevitability, I’m usually asked immediately about every high-profile cut on Twitter and if X player would be someone the Pittsburgh Steelers might be interested in signing. My normal response to those questions is that it’s unlikely to happen.
It’s easy for me to say that the Steelers won’t have any interest in offseason salary cap causalities of other teams because of their history related to such. Dating back to 2000, which was the first year Kevin Colbert was with the organization, the Steelers have shown virtually no interest in signing pre-new league year salary cap casualties by the start of the annual free agent signing period.
I went back through all the Steelers transactions that took place every year from 2000 and on and between February 1 and the middle of March (prior to start of that league year) and I failed to find any signings of players who had become offseason salary cap casualties who had never played in Pittsburgh previously. With that clarification out of the way, the Steelers did sign wide receiver Antwaan Randle El to a multi-year contract just a few days after the Washington Redskins made him a salary cap casualty in March of 2010. If you think I have overlooked one, let me know.
The closest thing the Steelers have really ever had when it comes to them signing another team’s early offseason castoff was just a few years ago when they signed running back DeAngelo Williams. While it was common knowledge in late February of 2015 that the Panthers were going to part ways with Williams, they didn’t officially cut him until just after the start of the 2015 NFL league year in March because they wanted to designate him post-June 1 cut for salary cap relief purposes. Williams was quickly signed by the Steelers just a few days after he was officially let go by the Panthers. In fact, I even suggested the team should sign Williams a few weeks before the Panthers cut him.
In short, if you are hoping the Steelers will soon be signing any of the recent higher-profile players who have been released over the course of the last few weeks, or any of those that will be on the street by the time the new league year rolls around, you’re bound to be disappointed. The Steelers have never been big players in regular unrestricted free agency and not really players at all when it comes to signing a castoff from another team early in the spring.