The Pittsburgh Steelers are indeed expected to release safety Mike Mitchell ahead of the start of the new league year on Wednesday.
The #Steelers are expected to release Mike Mitchell next week, source said. With a $5M salary, they are up against it with the cap. They are open to bringing him back at a lower rate, though. https://t.co/BlspGl4ozY
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 9, 2018
Mitchell, who signed a five-year, $25 million contract with the Steelers at the start of the 2014 free agent signing period, was set to earn a base salary of $5 million in 2018.
Mitchell played in 61 total regular season games during his four seasons with the Steelers and registered 281 total tackles and 4 interceptions during that span.
It’s long been speculated that Mitchell might be one of a few veteran Steelers players to be cut prior to the start of the 2018 league year. His presumed upcoming release will clear $5 million in 2018 salary cap space prior to roster displacement. According to Ian Rapport of the NFL Network, however, the Steelers are open to bringing Mitchell back at a lower salary after he is cut.
A release of Mitchell would mean the Steelers must fill an open starting free safety position either internally, or via free agency or the draft. The team could decide to move second-year cornerback Cameron Sutton to free safety and develop another younger safety behind him.
Regardless of what happens in the coming days or weeks, the Steelers are expected to address the safety position at some point during the early rounds of the 2018 NFL Draft. Former Stanford safety Justin Reid appears to be the odds on front-runner to be that player if the team ultimately drafts that position in the first round.
Mitchell’s most recent Twitter post on Friday is below.
It is what it is.
— Mike Mitchell (@iammikemitchell) March 9, 2018