On Tuesday afternoon the Pittsburgh Steelers released five players to get down to the league-mandated 80-man roster limit. Typically, there aren’t any surprises among the first few sets of roster cuts, but this year is an exception.
Genard Avery Out, Free Agent Signing Forthcoming?
That’s because the team elected to release veteran outside linebacker Genard Avery, who had been viewed as the team’s top backup outside linebacker, ahead of the likes of Derrek Tuszka, Delontae Scott, Hamilcar Rashed Jr. and James Vaughters.
Brian Batko of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette described Avery’s release as a “big surprise.”
Avery’s release could indicate that the Steelers are planning to add a veteran replacement in free agency, because there now exists a void in the depth chart behind reigning Defensive Player of the Year T.J. Watt. (Either that or they are really impressed with Rashed, who was claimed on waivers on August 10.)
As for Avery, he had been with the Steelers since late March, when he inked a one-year contract in free agency. The move saves the team his $895,000 salary, but triggers a $152,500 dead money cap hit, as per overthecap.com.
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1 Draft Pick Waived
Meanwhile, Pittsburgh also elected to waive one of its 2022 draft picks, namely rookie quarterback Chris Oladokun, 24, who was selected in the seventh-round (No. 241 overall).
Oladokun faced long odds in terms of trying to make the 53-man roster, considering he came to a team with two established veterans (Mitch Trubisky and Mason Rudolph) and a rookie first-round pick (Kenny Pickett) ahead of him in the pecking order. His release would seem to make it less likely that the Steelers will trade Rudolph, as Pittsburgh has long preferred to keep three quarterbacks on its roster.
It should be interesting to see if any team claims Oladokun on waivers. Leading contenders might be the Arizona Cardinals and Chicago Bears, two of the teams that held private workouts with him prior to the draft.
Regardless, the decision to waive Oladokun saves the team his $705,000 salary, though there will be a dead money cap hit stemming from his $88,952 signing bonus, as noted by overthecap.com.
A Veteran WR Got Cut, Too
As for the rest of the cuts: the Steelers also jettisoned former Falcons wide receiver Christian Blake, who has been in the league for five years.
Blake’s release isn’t all that surprising, considering that the Steelers are loaded at wide receiver and that Blake has been with the team less than two weeks, having been signed on August 11 as an injury replacement for Javon McKinley.
Also released was rookie running back Mataeo Durant, an undrafted free agent out of Duke who received the “largest UDFA RB contract in franchise history.” But it’s another rookie undrafted free agent running back who has impressed the coaching staff, namely Jaylen Warren (Oklahoma State), who is competing with Benny Snell Jr. for the No. 2 running back job behind 2021 first-round pick Najee Harris.
Last but not least, the Steelers also released placekicker Nick Sciba, who was serving as the proverbial “camp leg” to save wear-and-tear on Chris Boswell, who signed a four-year contract extension earlier this month.
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