Could A Release Of McFadden Lead To The Return Of Starks?
With a handful of weeks left before the final roster cut-downs take place, the Steelers seem to have 8 cornerbacks vying for 6 or 7 roster spots on the 53 man roster. One of those 8 players is veteran Bryant McFadden. McFadden has been sidelined the last several weeks with a hamstring/quad type injury and he has yet to play in any of the two preseason games the Steelers have had.
With McFadden sidelined, third year cornerback Keenan Lewis has received the starting nod at the left outside corner spot and seems to be finally turning the proverbial corner. In addition, free agent Donovan Warren has played well enough to have his hat thrown into the ring of roster hopefuls. Warren is a former undrafted corner out of Michigan that is best suited for a zone coverage type defense and thus far his tackling skills also live up to what is expected of a cornerback in a Dick LeBeau type defense.
With so many corners vying for the 6 or 7 roster spots, you have to think that McFadden is no longer a lock to make the 53. If my numbers are right, he will save the Steelers around $2.5 million against the cap if released and that would narrow the field to 7 corners competing for the 6 or 7 spots on the roster.
The $2.5 million that the Steelers would save if indeed McFadden were released could perhaps go towards re-signing former Steelers left tackle Max Starks, who was released prior to training camp starting. The Steelers seem set on letting Jonathan Scott start the season at left tackle, but they have a huge hole behind him should Scott go down or not be up to the task. The re-signing of Starks would provide depth at both the left and right tackle spots if brought back. This of course is all based on the assumptions that Starks is now in shape and willing to sign a one or two year deal around $2 million or so a season. If not Starks, then perhaps Flozell Adams or another soon to be released tackle that will become available when the final roster cut-downs take place.
The Steelers let McFadden walk a few years ago in free agency, but traded back for him during the 2010 draft as perhaps a one year solution as Lewis and Joe Burnett were not ready to contribute last season. Burnett was released prior to the start of the 2010 season and Lewis barely sniffed the field last year. Also now in the mix are 2010 fifth-round pick Crezdon Butler as well as 2011 drafted cornerbacks Curtis Brown and Cortez Allen. It should be noted though that Allen, like McFadden, has yet to see the field in preseason.
The numbers now seem to work against McFadden in my opinion and he could very well be the odd man out in a few weeks to free up money. The worst case scenario as far as he is concerned, is if the injury that has sidelined him is worse than anyone lets on. If that is indeed the case, McFadden would likely have to be placed on injured reserve and that would not free up the extra money needed to sign another tackle.
However you want to slice it, the writing is on the wall that McFadden is not a lock to make the 53 man roster and it is something to watch leading up to the final roster cut-down date.