In a complementary move dictated by their prior offseason transactions, the Pittsburgh Steelers officially announced today that they have released veteran offensive lineman Willie Colon. The moves comes after the team agreed on a three-year contract with offensive guard/tackle Ramon Foster, who started the last three games of the 2012 season at Colon’s left guard position after he was placed on injured reserve.
Colon, in fact, has finished his last three NFL seasons on the injured reserve list, a stark contrast to his first four years in the league when he did not miss a game.
Previously the team’s starting right tackle before being moved to left guard last offseason, Colon tore his Achilles in the offseason during 2010 and did not play at all that year. The Steelers signed Flozell Adams and made it to the Super Bowl, losing to the Green Bay Packers.
In 2011, he tore his triceps near the end of the team’s season opening loss to the Baltimore Ravens, and was placed on injured reserve quickly thereafter. After moving to guard in 2012, Colon got off to a strong start, but his season was derailed after suffering a knee injury early in the second half of the season, once again against the Ravens.
The Steelers spent a first round draft pick on guard David DeCastro last season, and as mentioned re-signed guard Ramon Foster to a three-year contract earlier in the week, and with a high salary cap hit and a significant recent injury history, it made him an ideal candidate for release.
According to reports, the team has designated him a June 1st cut, meaning that, while he is technically a free agent now, his contract value will not come off the books until then. Were he released now, the team would save only $1.2 million of his multi-million dollar deal in 2013.
By designating him a June 1st cut, the team will stand to save $5.5 million after that date. The flip-side to that, however, is that the later cut pushes Colon’s salary cap hit to the following year, when the Steelers are expected to take a dead money hit of more than $4 million thanks to the release. That money will be useful later on down the road, however, when the team needs to get its 2013 rookie class under contract.
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