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Looking Back At The Steelers Decision To Release QB Brian Hoyer Last December


On Friday, Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that the Pittsburgh Steelers were really wanting to get back quarterback Brian Hoyer, who spent a short time on their roster last season when Ben Roethlisberger and Byron Leftwich were both sidelined by injuries. That want was made impossible recently when the Arizona Cardinals put a second-round tender on the 27-year-old quarterback, who they claimed off wavers from the Steelers way back in early December of last season.

So if the Steelers really wanted to keep Hoyer, why did they let him go in the first place?

We can only speculate, but the Steelers were possibly hoping that Hoyer would have cleared waivers the weekend that he was released so that cornerback Josh Victorian could be elevated to the 53 man roster due to the injury suffered by cornerback Ike Taylor the week before. Had Hoyer cleared waivers, he could have been signed back to roster the following week.

So why didn\’t they release Leftwich instead, and not risk it? For starters, Leftwich\’s salary was guaranteed for the full season after making the roster out of training camp as a vested veteran. He also carried a reduced cap charge being as he had signed a one-year qualifying contract. Had they released him, they still would have had to account for his salary against the cap for the remainder of the season. Was that a big deal to the Steelers? We may never know.

Couldn\’t they had placed Leftwich on injured reserve because of his rib injury? I suppose that was possible, but Leftwich would have likely had a grievance with that since the injury was not deemed a long-term one. Once again, that\’s just speculation.

So what if Hoyer had stayed on the 53 man roster the rest of the season? Being as he would have gotten credit for being on the roster in Week 14 and beyond, he would have been credited with an accrued season. That accrued season would have then made him an unrestricted free agent after the season ended. As an unrestricted free agent the Steelers would have had the opportunity to lock him up long-term, but so would have other teams. In other words, there would have been no guarantee that he was going to be back in 2013.

Had the Steelers been able to get him through waivers back in early December, Hoyer wouldn\’t have qualified for an accrued season and would have instead been a restricted free agent had he been on the roster at the end of the season. At that point, the Steelers could have tendered him and hoped that another team didn\’t sign him to an offer sheet that they would have had the right to match.

It is all semantics right now, and we might never know if the Steelers were indeed hoping to sneak Hoyer through waivers back in December. Perhaps it was a gamble that didn\’t pay off. All that matters now is that Hoyer will be with the Cardinals in 2013 and that the Steelers moved forward by signing Bruce Gradkowski to a three-year contract at the start of free agency.

About Dave Bryan

I am, I'm me. 40 something, retired and a life long Steelers fan.
  • alex

    glad to see the windmill go…would like to see Batch teach the veteran bench man Gradkowski his wily old man tricks, but will we be keeping 3 QBs now that we have a sub-40 back-up?

  • mokhkw

    Shame we gambled & lost on Hoyer, harder to take if releasing Leftwich, who is a poor fit at QB in Haley’s O, was a viable option. Dude falls on the ground and injuries a rib – I’d IR him for not being fit enough to play if he can’t fall over without getting hurt.

    I like the Gradkowski signing, but would have preferred to have Hoyer instead – who I rate as a very good chance to start for the Cards this year.

  • DaveBry

    We’ll see if Hoyer is worth what Arizona paying to place that 2d round tender. Hoyer or Gradkowski ok but what’s confusing is Steelers apparently still dont pursue Jerrod Johnson to develop, because Johnson showed he might have more upside than both.
    Arizona having locked up another ex-Steeler, this one seems boxing out the Steelers was a factor. Could say it’s just Arians recognizes talent, but it’s now appearing Arians is deterimined to rub it in for Steelers front office ran him out of town.

  • LouPGH

    BA was still in Indy last December, and seeing as the Cardinals had no intention of keeping Kolb and neither Skelton nor Lindley showed anything last season, I don’t think BA had many options. He may very well have an axe to grind with the Steelers, but if that were the case, I’m willing to bet it had little to do with keeping Hoyer.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    I maybe wrong but wasn’t Hoyer a FA for most of the season? Why would the Steelers think that anyone would snatch him up? If I’m wrong let me know but I am confident he wasn’t on a team all year till we picked him up.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    Maybe they see something that we don’t but Johnson looked to have some upside. I agree with you. I also like to add Morty Ivy who has shown the last 2 preseasons to be at least a ST’s guy. Not sure why he isn’t in camp.

  • steeltown

    Yes, they’ll keep 3 for sure… Ben hasnt played a full season since ’08,. they’ll have Gradkowski and then pending the draft, if they draft a rookie he’ll be #3, if the draft doesnt pan out how they’d hoped and they dont end up drafting a QB I fully expect them to re-sign Batch to be #3

  • rizzo29

    The steelers have more pressing issue,s than if they signed that all-pro Hoyer, really who care,s

  • steeltown

    Doesnt really matter.. Gradkowski has far more experience than Hoyer. I’d rather have Bruce

  • Jollyrob68

    When they signed him off the street it should of been a 2yr contract very cheap but another stupid decision.

  • Jollyrob68

    Is rather have both.

  • TheBlitz

    Would you really sign a guy off the street that you have no idea how he will fit in your system to a long term contract !?

    This was simply a calculated gamble by the FO that did not go well.

    Hoyer was on the street and nobody was interested when we signed him. So there was no reasons to think that he would end up in Arizona after his release. Signing him back to the roster and then tendering him as a RFA this off season was a smart move…it just didn’t pay off.

  • Michael Mazanowski

    Shld have cut Lefty he is just too injury prone anyway and kept Hoyer! The Steelers do stuff that makes me scratch my head sometimes! Why the f%^& did we ever cut Kraig Urbik? He wld still be a Steeler; he has proven himself in Buffalo! I’m just a pollock with a degree from Kent State…I don’t know much about this fuzball game?!

  • Michael Mazanowski

    Nick Marsicano ·I agree with you but I hope they don’t lick Gradkowski (read above)!

  • RW

    Hoyer is awful anyway. Let Arizona have him (and the rest of our rejects). Gradowski may not be much better, but at least he can throw downfield. The team needs a reliable, young backup QB and I hope they find it in the draft (or bring back JJ, as so many of you suggest).

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