The Pittsburgh Steelers are finally moving from veteran safety Morgan Burnett after just one season as the team announced his release on Monday. The team had reportedly unsuccessfully tried to trade him before releasing him.
Burnett, who signed a three year, $14.35 million free agent contract with the Steelers on March 20, 2018, had reportedly asked the Steelers to release him several weeks ago as he didn’t like the way he was used last season. In the 11 games that he played in last season, Burnett registered just 30 total tackles to go along with 6 passes defensed. He missed four games early in the season due to a groin injury and another game later in the season due to a back issue.
By the time Burnett found himself fully healthy early in the season the Steelers already had rookie safety and first-round draft pick Terrell Edmunds somewhat heavily integrated into the defense. As a result of Edmunds playing heavily and a lot earlier than originally expected, Burnett wound up being mostly used in the team’s dime package. Burnett ended the 2018 season having played just under 400 total defensive snaps.
Burnett was scheduled to earn a base salary of $5 million in 2019 in addition to a $50,000 offseason workout bonus prior to his release. If not listed as a post June 1 release, the Steelers will now save $3,633,332 in 2019 salary cap space by releasing Burnett, who will now carry a $2,833,334 dead money charge this year. If listed as a post June 1 release, the Steelers will save a little more than $5 million in 2019 salary cap space prior to roster displacement come June 2. Such a move, however, would result in the team having a dead money charge in 2020 of $1,416,668.
Burnett originally entered the NFL with the Green Bay Packers as a third-round selection in the 2010 NFL Draft out of Georgia Tech. He played his first eight seasons in the NFL with the Packers before signing with the Steelers last March as an unrestricted free agent.
Burnett now joins several other experienced safeties looking for work this offseason as quite a few recently became unemployed in the last few weeks. Due to his injury history, Burnett will be hard-pressed to find a team willing to sign him for more than a few million per season.