Between now and March 18, the Pittsburgh Steelers have several important decisions that need to be made, which will shape what their 53 (or 55)-man roster will look like in 2020. Many of those important decisions pertain to whether or not certain veterans, among them starters, will be salary cap casualties.
The most universally agreed-upon player for release appears to be Anthony Chickillo, a sixth-year veteran backup outside linebacker who signed a two-year, $8 million contract with the team last offseason. Letting him go would clear $5 million off of the salary cap, and would help the team afford retaining Bud Dupree, their starter at the position.
While there is less certainty after this, most seem to feel that Mark Barron is a safe bet for release. The team already has starters at inside linebacker in Devin Bush and Vince Williams, and while Williams has a similarly high cap hit, the team would save about $4.5 million more by releasing Barron.
Somewhat surprisingly, at least to me, Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette believes that Ramon Foster is more of a sure bet to be released than is Barron, who has only been with the team for less than a year after signing a two-year, $12 million contract last offseason as an unrestricted free agent.
Foster, who has been with the Steelers for 11 years, has well over 100 starts under his belt, and has been the full-time, unquestioned starter at left guard since 2013, is 34 years old and in the final year of a two-year contract he signed last offseason worth $8.25 million. Releasing him would save $4 million in base salary against the salary cap.
“I think Chickillo and Foster are gone for sure”, Fittipaldo wrote during a recent chat session in response to one person’s question about possible casualties. “Barron and [tight end Vance McDonald] are possibilities, but they still hold some value to the team if they’re healthy”.
Foster is the team’s starting left guard, and still holds value to the team if healthy as well. He also offers the least in cap savings, though, like Barron, he already has a possible in-house replacement if the team re-signs B.J. Finney. Or they could potentially move Matt Feiler to left guard.
Generally speaking, both Foster and Barron are in a very similar position, though Foster’s age is a key factor as well. Barron could potentially have several years left. I would deem it unlikely that the Steelers would sign Foster to another contract next offseason at age 35.
Do you agree with Fittipaldo that Foster is “gone for sure”, and a safer bet to be released than Barron?