Now that the 2021 offseason has begun, following yet another year of disappointment, a fourth consecutive season with no postseason victories, it’s time to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand. Specifically where Steelers players stand individually based on what we are seeing over the course of the offseason as it plays out. We will also be reviewing players based on their previous season and their prospects for the future.
A stock evaluation can take a couple of different approaches and I’ll try to make clear my reasonings. In some cases it will be based on more long-term trends. In other instances it will be a direct response to something that just happened. So we can see a player more than once over the course of the season as we move forward.
Player: RG David DeCastro
Stock Value: Sold
Reasoning: The Steelers waived nine-year veteran guard David DeCastro yesterday with a Non-Football Injury designation as he contemplates his future and possible retirement.
It’s always sad to write these up when a significant player’s tenure with the Steelers ends. David DeCastro put in nine years with the team since being drafted 24th overall in 2012, a plug-and-play starter out of Stanford, though a preseason torn MCL delayed his arrival. Injuries also limited him last season, but he was a six-time Pro Bowler.
Yesterday, in a somewhat surprising but certainly not shocking move, the Steelers announced that they were releasing him, after no-showing at OTAs and making just a brief non-participatory appearance during minicamp.
It was later reported that he was being waived with a Non-Football Injury designation, and that there are ailments he has been dealing with, including an ankle injury on which he had surgery last year. It was also said that he is considering his future and weighing retirement.
The Steelers have seen a wave of retirements with their staple linemen recently, though of course that’s just what happens as you age. Ramon Foster retired in 2020. Maurkice Pouncey and Marcus Gilbert retired this year. DeCastro could make it four in a two-year span.
Truth be told, it took him a couple of years to fully acclimate to the NFL. By his fourth season in 2015, he was clearly one of the top guards in all of the NFL, making the first-team All-Pro list multiple times in the process in addition to six consecutive trips to the Pro Bowl.
He is coming off arguably his worst season as a full-time starter last year, which was no doubt highly influenced by his health, including a training camp injury that caused him to miss the season opener. From a talent standpoint, there was no reason to believe he wouldn’t have returned to form, if healthy, this year.
Now the Steelers must figure out what comes next at right guard. They’re still cobbling together the answers at most other positions as it is. Free agent Trai Turner could possibly be signed as a one-for-one replacement, a five-time Pro Bowler himself, but it certainly won’t be the same without DeCastro, who played in 125 games for Pittsburgh over the past nine years.