Every summer, as NFL training camps are starting to near the end we get the news that some big name player has been cut that shocks everyone.
There are plenty of reasons a player can get cut, other than just not being a good NFL player. Sometimes they make too much money for the team they’re on. Maybe they’re getting older and get pushed out by a younger player. In some instances it’s a coaching change, and the said player just doesn’t fit the new scheme well.
In 2014 guys like Champ Bailey, Kevin Vickerson, Daniel Thomas, Vincent Brown, Robert Meachum, and Nate Burleson were a few examples of this.
The Steelers have shown a willingness in the past to add outside talent that works out for them long-term (such as James Farrior), or even stopgap situations that help them for a season (like Flozell Adams).
This season will be no different, and the Steelers have shown interest early in other guys that were cut such as DJ Swearinger and Tim Wright.
Here are a few names that could potentially be cut late in the summer, that could really help this Steelers team.
Leon Hall, CB, Cincinnati
I really like the group the Steelers have a cornerback long-term. However, they are still lacking a true #1 on the roster. I think signing a short-term veteran would really elevate the level of play from the defense. There’s some rumbles in Cincinnati that Leon Hall could be on his way out. Adam Jones is playing well, and Dre Kirkpatrick looked ready to start last season. If Darquenze Dennard shows that he looks ready to play in his second season, Hall or maybe Pacman could be out.
To me, Leon Hall would be a perfect fit for the Steelers. He’s a steady contributor and one of the best tackling cornerbacks in the league (in fact the Bengals have had him playing some safety in last month’s OTA’s). Hall will turn 31 this year, but could provide a couple of years of solid play to bridge the gap from Ike Taylor to (hopefully) Senquez Golson. Hall is in that sweet spot in his career where he’s too old to get a huge contract, but young enough that he can still help you for a couple of season.
Brandon Carr, CB, Dallas
Brandon Carr taking a paycut, or getting cut, has been a regular topic of conversation surrounding the Cowboys. Carr played very well in Kansas City, but hasn’t played up to his 50 million dollar deal signed with Dallas. Carr is due 12.7 million this season, and the Cowboys are one of the most cap strapped teams in the league (and also trying to re-sign Dez Bryant currently). I do think that if they were going to cut him they may have done it already, but maybe they want to see how he looks in camp first.
While I think the Steelers best option is a cheaper veteran like Hall, a longer term option like Carr may not be a bad backup plan if they can fit him under the cap. If he can capture some of what he had in Kansas City, he was playing just short of a pro bowl type of level.
Ziggy Hood, DT/DE, Jacksonville
Hey, remember this guy? Hood left the Steelers last year to sign a 4 year, 16 million dollar deal. Ziggy was somewhat of a disappointment last season in Jacksonville, not starting a single game. It’s probably not extremely like that Ziggy is cut one year later, but the team does have a bit of a logjam at the position with Tyson Alualu, Jared Odrick, Roy Miller and Sen’Derrick Marks. If rookie Michael Bennett impresses, Hood could be shown the door.
I’m sure naming Hood will be met with plenty of yelling from many fans that they want no part of the draft bust that is Ziggy Hood. Hood was a bust, but a would be a great replacement for Cam Thomas. Hood never panned out as the Steelers had hoped, but he was by most accounts one of the hardest working players on the team. That’s a great influence to have along side Stephon Tuitt. Ziggy would also be an above average backup DE if you can forget about the fact that he was once a first round pick. Antwaan Randle El once left the Steelers to be overpaid, and returned to help the squad get back to the Superbowl. Maybe Ziggy could do the same.
Andy Levitre, G, Tennessee
Levitre was a 2nd round pick of the Bills that impressed right away, starting in his rookie season. Following his time with the Bills he signed a 6 year, 47 million dollar contract with the Titans. Levitre signed with the Titans in the last season of Mike Munchak’s tenure with the team, so he obviously is the type of player our offensive line coach likes. Andy’s time with the Titans hasn’t been as impressive, in part due to a knee surgery shortly after signing. The team could decide that Levitre isn’t worth his price tag. If so, Levitre would be a solid upgrade to Ramon Foster.
Phil Taylor, NT, Browns
Taylor was a first round pick of the Browns that’s struggled to stay healthy. He’s due a non-guaranteed 5.4 million and the Browns just spent a first round pick on Danny Shelton. Of all the guys on the list, Taylor is one that feels the most likely to be cut to me. The bigger question becomes how he fits in with the Steelers.
Taylor would be a nice backup project at nose tackle, but I think the Steelers are really happy with what they have right now at the position with McLendon and McCullers. I’m thinking more longterm, with Steve McLendon entering a contract season. If McLendon wants to test the free agent market, he may become too expensive for the Steelers. Taylor still may fit now though, as he started his career as a 3-technique on the outside with the Browns. While Phil doesn’t posses the pass rushing qualities the Steelers seem to want in their DE’s now, he would be a solid rotational player, especially on obvious running downs. He could hopefully beat out Cam Thomas in camp to be the 3rd DE, and eventually compete with McCullers inside if McLendon moves on next off-season.