When the Steelers cut several veteran members of the team to get under the cap earlier this month, there wasn’t much said about the chances that any of them could return at lower salaries.
For wide receiver Hines Ward, who announced his retirement, and defensive end Aaron Smith, who hinted at it, that’s not much of a consideration. It isn’t much of one for linebacker James Farrior or guard Chris Kemoeatu either, judging by comments made by general manager Kevin Colbert at the owners meetings when asked if any of the players could return, something Farrior hinted at when he was released.
“No,” Colbert said via the team’s website. “When we terminated those players we felt that their time as a Steeler was over and it was time for everybody to move forward. I think when they all left they know that you can never say never. But they also know that was their last time as a Steeler.”
No real surprise there. While salary cap realities dictated the timing of the moves, the players let go by the Steelers were all performing at a lower level than they had at earlier points in their careers. Given their ages, there’s not much chance that a rebound is right around the corner and the Steelers cut cords that needed to be cut.
That’s not to say there isn’t something lost in the process. Colbert said that he was looking for new leaders to fill the shoes of the departed players and admitted that he doesn’t know if there are players capable of doing so.