Steelers Make Madden-Esq Move at Guard

Jan 10, 2021; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers offensive guard David DeCastro (66) and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) shake hands before playing the Cleveland Browns at Heinz Field. The Browns won 48-37. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

In a surprise move out of the Steel City Thursday, the Pittsburgh Steelers announced that they cut their long-time right guard David DeCastro, and replaced him by inking Trai Turner to a one-year deal.

DeCastro, who spent nine seasons with the Steelers, has recently been dealing with some injury issues and was having his ankle evaluated for potential surgery. The move, which will free up approximately $8.75 million in salary-cap space, has become part of Pittsburgh’s plan to revamp the offensive line so that they can adjust to a new scheme with a new position coach (Adrian Klemm) and new offensive coordinator (Matt Canada) under Mike Tomlin’s system.

A Season Marred With Injury

Due to the injury and the release, the former Stanford guard who was a first-round pick by Pittsburgh in 2012 is contemplating retirement. Injuries plagued him throughout the pandemic-ravaged 2020, and DeCastro is unsure whether his health will keep him active in the NFL at least through this season.
“I have to get surgery on my ankle a third time,” he said to Joe Starkey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Thursday. “I tried to fix it last year but the bone spurs just kept coming back. It nagged me pretty bad all last year.”

The release, which earned a non-football injury (NFI) designation, suggests DeCastro obtained the ankle problems away from team facilities. However, when healthy, he was one of the top offensive guards in the league.

With rumors beginning to swirl about retirement around DeCastro, he said to Starkey, “I’ve gotta see how the surgery goes, but I would have no problem calling it a day and moving on with my life.”

However, the injuries for the guard are nothing new. They’ve been piling up since last summer. In a CBS Sports article, “The 31-year-old DeCastro had recently been having his ankle evaluated for an injury, according to NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo, and has ‘had issues with it for quite some time,’ even undergoing surgery for the ailment prior to the 2020 season… The Athletic’s Ed Bouchette notes DeCastro also battled an abdominal injury last summer, perhaps all the way into the season.”

The Turner Aspect

As for Turner, his 2020 season also was negatively affected by the injury bug, as an issue with his groin forced him to miss seven games during the campaign. The former Carolina Panther was traded to the Chargers last spring, and allowed 19 quarterback pressures in the nine games he did appear in. When he came in for a visit to Pittsburgh last week, he said that he was 100% healthy.

With DeCastro gone, and the Steelers already losing Matt Feiler (signed with the LA Chargers), Alejandro Villanueva (signed with the division rival Ravens), and Maurkice Pouncey (retirement) in the offseason, the new offensive line will look much different for fans of the Black and Yellow, with Turner lining up alongside Zach Banner (left tackle), Chukwuma Okorafor (right tackle), Kevin Dotson (left guard), and J.C. Hassenauer (center).

David DeCastro was a model of stability and an anchor for the Pittsburgh Steelers offensive line in his nine seasons with the team. Now with Trai Turner stepping in to fill his shoes, there may be some major question marks that could lead to problems with the offseason this season in the Steel City.