The Pittsburgh Steelers needed a new running back in a major way, and they filled that void with first-round pick Najee Harris back in April. For most, the pick made perfect sense, but others saw other pressing needs as well.
Based off the news we got on Thursday, that may no longer be a hot take.
Longtime starting right guard David DeCastro was released by the team after reports of a non-football-injury surfaced. Apparently, he’s been dealing with ankle issues that has the three-time All-Pro selection contemplating retirement.
With retirement a possibility, the release of David DeCastro makes more sense. https://t.co/WmeOoHR3RY
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) June 24, 2021
DeCastro’s release saves the Steelers a much-needed $8.75 million worth of cap space. But the loss is significant, especially when combined with all the other losses along Pittsburgh’s offensive line this offseason.
He’s now the fourth of five starters from last season to depart, joining center Maurkice Pouncey, left tackle Alejandro Villaneuva and left guard/right tackle Matt Feiler. In March of 2020, former left guard Ramon Foster was also released by the team after 11 seasons. In other words, the turnover in the last two years has been significant.
To combat the loss of DeCastro, the Steelers immediately signed five-time Pro Bowler Trai Turner, but there are still plenty of question marks remaining up front.
Meanwhile, the offensive weapons in Pittsburgh are fantastic. Chase Claypool, Diontae Johnson, JuJu Smith-Schuster and James Washington are among the best wide receiver groups in the NFL. Tight ends Eric Ebron and second-round rookie Pat Freiermuth make a good combination, and Najee will now be a focal point of the offense, based on draft status and need.
But with Ben Roethlisberger coming up on his 40th birthday, how can the decision-makers in Pittsburgh be confident that he’ll have enough protection and time to field the football to all those options? Will the holes be there for the Alabama rookie to have success running the football?
There are concerns here, especially since the rest of the AFC North has improved as well. After a hot 11-0 start to kick off the 2020 season, the Steelers dropped five of their last six games to close things out. From the looks of it, 2021 could look a lot like the end of 2020.
Follow Clint Lamb on Twitter @ClintRLamb.