When word filtered out that David DeCastro had in fact not injured his ACL, Steelers Nation celebrated.
The much ballyhooed rookie who inexplicably fell to the Steelers in the 2012 NFL Draft might be available for part of the 2012 season afterall, but….
Yes, there was a big but. The Steelers are a team that’s ailing, already carrying a number of players on its opening day roster who cannot or should not be playing (Steveonson Sylvester, Ryan Clark, Rashard Mendenhall, you can probably add Jason Worilds to that list too.)
Just in time the NFLPA seemed to step forward to the rescue, approving a new rule that would allow a team to place one designated player on injured reserve list and then activate him after week 8 of the season.
Rules stipulate that the designated player must be on the team’s 53 man roster when final cuts are due into the league office. But after all others clear waivers, teams can make their roster moves.
The Steelers dutifully trimmed roster to 53 men, and Trai Essex, veteran jack of all trades offensive lineman, was one of those who got a visit from The Turk.
No one expected another team to sign Essex, and everyone expected the Steelers to place DeCastro on IR and them resign Essex as soon as they could.
So far the Steelers have done nothing….
Experience, Economics Temper Steelers Decision Making
There’s little doubt that the Steelers want David DeCastro available to them by mid-season. It would be immeasurably good for the rookie to get some reps this year, and past history suggests that the Steelers will need a healthy lineman to step in.
The Steelers haven’t moved yet for two simple reasons.
They’ve been there, done that.
Knock on wood, this hasn’t been an issue for some time, but the Steelers have lost key starters on week 1 more than once. In 1995 it was Rod Woodson (and Neil O’Donnell.) In 1996 it was Greg Lloyd. In 2009 it was Troy Polamalu.
If David DeCastro can fully recover by mid-season then there’s a real chance he can contribute. But DeCastro at the end of the day is a rookie. And there are other Steelers whom the Steelers could lose and want to bring back who player bigger roles with the team.
The second motive is purely economic.
If Trai Essex is on Pittsburgh’s roster on opening day, then Steelers are on the hook for his entire salary for the full year. The Steelers have a complicated salary cap situation and they need every inch of flexibility they can get with it.
Signing Essex next week gives them the ability to cut him later (if need be) without tying up money to someone who is no longer on the team.
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