PITTSBURGH (AP) – The Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday released six-time Pro Bowl goalie David DeCastro in a surprise move.
DeCastro, 31, attended the team’s mandatory minicamp last week, but did not participate in the full-team exercises.
DeCastro, the team’s first-round pick in the 2012 draft, spent nine years with the Steelers. He was named All-Pro after the 2015 and 2017 seasons while playing on one of the most dominant offensive lines in the league. DeCastro was entering the final season of a five-year, $ 50 million contract he signed in 2017.
The move frees up some salary cap space for the Steelers to find a replacement, but DeCastro’s solid play on the pitch and his presence in the locker room deals a blow to what is now a very young offensive line group. .
“David was without a doubt one of the best offensive linemen during his time with us,” general manager Kevin Colbert said in a statement. “He has helped us win a lot of football games, but it was David’s consistency, reliability and professionalism that stood out more than anything else.”
DeCastro expressed his frustration last December with the disjointed 2020 season. The Steelers have won the AFC North by playing most of their home games in an empty Heinz field due to COVID-19 protocols.
“You say to yourself, ‘What are we doing here? “” DeCastro said at the time. “I don’t like to apologize because we’re professionals and everything, but we’re still human. We have emotions and not having fans there, it’s just difficult. “
DeCastro’s abrupt departure means the Steelers will have an almost entirely rebuilt offensive line on the eve of 2021. Veteran center Maurkice Pouncey retired in January, left tackle Alejandro Villaneuva signed with Baltimore and left guard Matt Feilier is now with the Los Angeles Chargers.
Zach Banner is the only starter in the offensive line squad who entered the pitch for Week 1 in 2020 which returns this season, and Banner is recovering from major knee surgery after losing the opener to the New York Giants.
The Steelers drafted center Kendrick Green in the third round to replace Pouncey. Kevin Dotson will take over at one of the guard posts, with BJ Finney the favorite to take over the other unless Pittsburgh finds someone on the open market like Trai Turner, who was released in March by the Chargers. .
DeCastro missed the first two games of 2020 with lingering knee issues, but has appeared in 13 of Pittsburgh’s last 14 games. Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin did not address DeCastro’s condition at the end of the minicamp.
“If I thought the circumstances of the injuries or the reasons people weren’t participating were important, I would share them with you, but I’m not going to approach everyday life like things in this environment,” said Tomlin. “It is not mandatory.”
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