It’s common knowledge within the NFL sphere by now that the Pittsburgh Steelers have salary cap problems, regardless of where the cap number realistically comes in. Some people really seem to love to talk about it, with glee in their voice when emphasizing the work that they have to put in to get cap-compliant.
With that said, it has become very rare in recent years that the team has had to part ways via release with anybody that they really would have liked to have kept. Sure, they have cut some players like Anthony Chickillo and Morgan Burnett, but nobody shed tears for them like when Hines Ward was released.
Even I will admit that the 2021 season could be different. It’s not definitely, but it is a definite possibility that the front office makes the decision to create some salary cap space by releasing some players. I don’t think any particular name is likely, but there are some reasonable ‘surprise’ cuts, and several Steelers players also made Gregg Rosenthal’s list of potential surprise cuts.
Needless to say, Ben Roethlisberger topped the list, though unfortunately he completely botched his paragraph about the situation. Not only does he falsely claim that Art Rooney II talked publicly about Roethlisberger taking a pay cut, he also continued to push the false narrative that Roethlisberger also stated that he would be willing to accept a pay cut, when all he said was that he doesn’t care about his pay. Realistically, that shouldn’t be construed as synonymous with ‘I’m willing to take less money in my pocket to play’. That’s not going to happen. But moving on…
Rosenthal also includes right tackle David DeCastro and cornerback Steven Nelson as eighth and ninth on his list of potential surprise cuts, as a couple of veterans on the roster who are set to earn a base salary of $8 million or more, and thus would offer some meaningful relief.
“DeCastro is a franchise cornerstone whose play fell off dramatically last year, and now he holds a $14.3 million cap hit”, he wrote, though it’s completely false that his play “fell off dramatically”. But again, I digress.
“It would be more typical of the Steelers to hang on to him for one more year, which may help put one of the team’s high-priced starting cornerbacks in trouble”, he went on. “My guess is that Joe Haden is a better bet to stay than Nelson, whose release would save $8.25 million against the cap”.
A better bet than any of these things happening is that all three players named get contract extensions to reduce their cap hits, with Roethlisberger’s extension being for voidable years with no intention of the being used.
Ironically, the player most likely to be cut by the Steelers was only included in Rosenthal’s ‘other players to monitor’ section, and that would be veteran inside linebacker Vince Williams, a player whose status as a starter has already fluctuated throughout his career.