On Thursday afternoon, the Pittsburgh Steelers announced the release of offensive tackle Jonathan Scott (per Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette), likely a result of the re-signing of Max Starks earlier in the week.
Scott was hoped to be the Steelers' long-term solution at left tackle, starting 14 of his 28 games, but he was replaced after four weeks last year by Starks—and now Starks has taken his spot once again.
Scott ranked 60th out of 76 offensive tackles last season, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), and allowed six sacks, two quarterback hits and 12 quarterback hurries while also amassing five penalties on the year. Clearly, his release isn't going to cause any Steelers fans to shed tears.
However, there's another upside to Scott's release beyond simply getting an ineffective offensive lineman off the roster—the move could also pave the way for holdout wide receiver Mike Wallace to receive a long-term deal before the start of next week's training camp.
CBS Sports' Jason LaCanfora reported on Thursday, hot on the heels of the Scott release, that talks have progressed between the Steelers and Wallace. These talks are likely more productive now that there is more money on the table after Scott's release.
According to SteelersDepot.com, Starks' one-year deal should be around $605,000; releasing Scott, who was set to be paid $2.7 million this year, frees up $2.2 million in cap room, putting the Steelers at about $5.3 million over the cap if this report about their financial situation in early July is true (and if that figure includes the $2.7 million first-round tender they've already offered Wallace, then add that into the $5.3 million).
That's a far better position for the Steelers to really negotiate in earnest with Wallace, especially in these crucial days leading up to training camp.
Wallace has already sat out of both OTAs and minicamp and a protracted training camp holdout not only is frustrating for fans but also puts him further behind in mastering and executing new offensive coordinator Todd Haley's playbook.
Securing Wallace long term has been the Steelers' biggest offseason priority, but it's been a struggle thus far.
There are many factors the Steelers have needed to consider during negotiations: Wallace's past and future value to the team, the fact that two other receivers will be restricted free agents in 2013, the flat salary cap next year and the numerous restructured veteran contracts that need to be paid out next year as well.
That's a lot of money to juggle, and though the Steelers' capologist, Omar Khan, is one of the best in the league, it's understandable why this has taken so long to iron out.
But by releasing Scott, the Steelers now have a silver lining on the only cloud that has dogged them this offseason—the cash is there to pay Wallace. Now it comes down to the finer details of the contract, things that are likely to be hashed out in earnest before camp commences on Wednesday.
Indeed, there seems to be more upside to cutting Scott from the roster beyond just the fact that he was (let's face it) a terrible offensive tackle.
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