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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Steelers release Russell

In an interesting move Thursday, the Steelers released running back Gary Russell, their primary kickoff return man and short-yardage specialist in 2008.

The move was announced at the same time as the team announced it had re-signed quarterback Charlie Batch.

It's likely that this was a salary cap move. With the signings of James Harrison and Batch this week, the Steelers had to be tight against the cap.

Russell wasn't making a lot of money, but the $450,000 or so in base salary he would have earned was likely used to sign Batch.

It also shows how much confidence the Steelers have that running back Rashard Mendenhall will be completely healed from the broken shoulder he suffered early in the 2008 season.


Patrick said...

they are that tight against the cap?

Time to get the Starks, Ward, Hampton deals, or else we're in big trouble.

Anonymous said...

Dale, do you think we'll try to resign him?

DaSwitz said...

I really don't like them cutting Russell. Hopefully they re-sign. Russell was the only one who could really get the hard yards last year and with Mendenhall not really proving himself yet, I liked the luxury of having Russell on the team.

Dale Lolley said...

After signing Harrison, they had to be tight. And they still have to have enough in place to sign their rookies.
Signing Starks to a long-term deal would likely lessen that blow.
They can still approach Roethlisberger and Polamalu about restructures.

Anonymous said...

they didnt get the hard yards cause the line didnt give them the hard yards

Viz-Burgh said...

I'm almost positive that the team doesn't need the cap space to sign the rookies until they actually start to sign the rookies (which could take until June or July). In fact, if they did they'd have to clear about $3.5 mill. before the draft next weekend.

And they would have had to be REALLY tight against the cap to need to release Russell in order to sign Batch. Adding Batch without cutting Russell would have only added $75K to our cap number due to the rule of 51 during the offseason.

Sounds to me like they found something out about Russell & wanted to release him before it hit the press. Just my opinion but it's the only thing that makes sense. Otherwise why would you open another hole on your roster that appears to need filling just before the draft. Now if they do want a guy like Frank the Tank Summers to be their short yardage guy they may have to overdraft him to get him.

Steelers Depot said...

This is merely a cap move as Dale suggest. The savings is 75K when applying the rule of 51 and leaves the Steelers around 2 million or less under the cap for rookie signings. Of course not all 9 picks first year cap charge will likely crack the top 51 salaries on the team, so a realistic cap room of 1.5 - 2.5 is acceptable. Below is my current cap assessment.

Dale Lolley said...

They really don't have a lot of wiggle room in terms of the cap as they've had in previous years because they have so many guys whose contracts are up after this season.
In previous years, they'd just adjust some contracts for guys who had two or more years remaining. Can't do that so much this year.

Dale Lolley said...

And Russell was due to make $545,000 this year, which is a decent-sized salary for somebody who likely wasn't going to have a role.

Blount Trauma said...

Dale, any chance the timing was to give him a greater opportunity to sign on with another team?

Anonymous said...

I seriously doubt this was just a cap-related cut. For comparisons sake, minimum salary for a rookie is $310K and a 2nd year player is $460K.

Russell was our best short yardage back and best kick returner and was fairly cheap. Why not let him stay for camp and compete and be insurance in case of injuries.

I'd put my money on hearing within the next few weeks that he either got in trouble with the law or had an issue with the team.

Anonymous said...

I'm stuggling to see this as a cap move. Short yardage is the #1 problem area for this team. You don't cut the only back on the team who's a proven fall forward/no fumble guy. I love Mendy buy he runs very upright for the GL back role. Has proven nothing and we need all the help we can get in Short Yardage.

Something non-performance, non-money related is going on here IMHO.

Dale Lolley said...

He's a third-year player now and his salary jumped to $545,000.

Viz-Burgh said...

Minimum salaries for 2009:

Rookie - $310K
One Year Accrued - $385K
Two Years Accrued - $460K
Three Years Accrued - $535K

Salary is determined by years accrued, not the season he's entering. Russell was a UDFA in 2007. He played in 2007 and 2008. That's two years of service. Minimum salary for a player with 2 accrued seasons is $460K.

Anonymous said...

No way this is cap problem, there is another issue, he was way to valuable for special teams and short yardage. Even if RM comes back 100% you don't give up on a player who can play multiple roles. Sorry but I see a police blog in the future.

Anonymous said...

Agreed, he's too cheap and valuable to cut a week before the draft. It doesn't make any sense. This has off the field issues written all over it.

Dale, how about you get some of that "insider scoop" you promised and find out what the real story is?

Anonymous said...

The frickin' Bungles just claimed Russell off waivers. I'd hate to see him make an impact there which he might with their crappy RB situation.

Anonymous said...

now that the Bungles signed Russell we know it must have been a drug/crime problem

deljzc said...

Come on... they are so tight against the cap 100k makes a difference?

That's a joke.

And why release him now? He won't really count until the final 53 are selected and there are ton of restructurings and extensions that are likely to happen between then and now.

This is not a cap move. This is someone inside the building not sold on Russell's ability. Is what it is I guess, but it had nothing to do with money.

Dale Lolley said...

Yes, they were so tight against the cap they had to do something.