The decision to cut Starks was likely salary cap-related. Fox Sports reporter Adam Caplan said on Twitter Thursday he was told Starks could be offered a smaller contract to return.
With back-up Jonathan Scott likely to make less money, and the unknown prognosis of Starks' neck injury that sidelined him for much of last season, the Steelers are looking to shave a few million off the cap.
Scott is also a free agent, and is likely the Steelers top priority signing since CB Ike Taylor agreed to a four-year deal Tuesday.
The decision to part ways with Randle El one season after signing him in free agency can be seen as a vote of confidence to the depth of the Steelers receiving corps. Rookies Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown both played well last season, advancing ahead of the veteran Randle El on the depth chart.
Randle El had 22 catches for 253 yards last season, his first back with the Steelers - the team that drafted him in 2002 - after a four year stint with Washington.
The release of Randle El leaves Hines Ward, Mike Wallace, Limas Sweed, Arnaz Battle, Sanders and Brown on the Steelers depth chart. Like Burress, Sweed missed all of the 2010 campaign. While Burress was in prison, Sweed ruptured his Achilles tendon during spring practice. Battle served as a special teams player, and did not log a reception.
Rumors have surfaced recently, linking former Steelers and Giants WR Plaxico Burress with Pittsburgh. He reportedly has a visit with the Giants scheduled Friday, with a trip to Pittsburgh to meet with head coach Mike Tomlin Saturday.