The Pittsburgh Steelers this offseason have experienced their most significant roster turnover in many years, not just in terms of numbers, but also significance. Four of their five starters on the offensive line are now gone, as well as several starters on defense, among others. Some of that came through retirements, a factor they don’t control.
First was tight end Vance McDonald, who let his teammates know as soon as the season was over, and was long-planned. Center Maurkice Pouncey, along with his twin brother, made his retirement official not long after. Linebacker Vince Williams, previously released and re-signed, retired just before training camp.
In between, David DeCastro was released with an ankle injury that will require surgery, and he has indicated that he may ultimately decide to retire once he is recovered from the surgery and sees where he is. Aside from McDonald, none of these were moves Pittsburgh counted on.
“We had four players retire since last season. Vance McDonald, and Pouncey was right out of the gate, and of course, Vince”, general manager Kevin Colbert said earlier today on SiriusXM Radio. “And David hasn’t really retired, he’s indicated he could possibly do that if he’s not comfortable with where he is medically and all those sorts of things. But I think that will be somewhere down the line if he decides, too”.
“But that’s four, and I can say that honestly I didn’t anticipate probably three of them”, he continued. “Vance might’ve been the one that you could tell that maybe he was moving on from football. Pounce may have made some announcements within his group, within the players, but again, that was just a quick in and out when he did decide to do it”.
One does have to wonder how many of them would have still been around even if they decided not to retire, though, as some would have been the prime targets of release as salary cap-saving measures this offseason.
McDonald in particular was a likely roster cut, and at least one of either Pouncey or DeCastro was probably going to be released. Williams was first released due to the salary cap, and cornerback Steven Nelson was also let go for that reason.
So while most of these moves may have caught Colbert and the Steelers off-guard, when you actually look at the construction of their roster, relative to the available cap space that they had at the time, it’s quite possible they may have had to release all of them, anyway, or at least most of them.