In a surprising move the Steelers announced the release of starting guard David DeCastro. DeCastro is a 9 year pro who has been named to six Pro Bowls and was a two time All Pro and has played his entire career with the Steelers. DeCastro was entering the final year of a five year, $50 million contract extension that he signed in 2016 and was to count $14.2975 million against the salary cap. His release clears $8.75 million for the Steelers and will leave them with $5.5475 million in dead money.
Everything about this release is odd. DeCastro’s $8.75 million salary was certainly reasonable and a fair market or better value for a player with his history. Had the Steelers looked for a pay cut that would have come back in February so it is doubtful that it would have been in play here.
While the release does bring the Steelers some salary cap relief that is relief that would have been needed in March, not June. Since DeCastro is in the final year of his contract nothing is gained by waiting until June to release him. The Steelers cap is in order for the season by this point so I don’t see a salary cap angle here either.
Some have hinted at retirement and while I guess that is a possibility you would think after a nine year career with a team they would give you a retirement sendoff and place you on the reserve list not tweet out an announcement about his release.
I had not followed his situation closely but from my timeline on Twitter it does look as if he was absent from most offseason activities so there must have been more there than just the typical veteran decision to not attend offseason programs. Perhaps he just wanted to go and the Steelers honored his wishes, but I’m genuinely surprised by this release and usually you can see most releases coming from a mile away. This one I didnt have on the radar at all.
Edit: Just after posting this I was told that DeCastro’s release carried a non-football injury designation. I would guess that this means he has been hurt and the Steelers are indicating that he was hurt outside of the course of football work. So at least that sheds a little light on why they might be releasing him.
Jason is the founder of OTC and has been studying NFL contracts and the salary cap for over 15 years. Jason has co-authored two books about the NFL, Crunching Numbers and the Drafting Stage, which are widely circulated in the industry and hosts the OTC Podcast. Jason’s work has been featured in various publications including the Sporting News, Sports Illustrated, NFL Network and more. OTC is widely considered the leading authority on contract matters in the NFL.