May 4, 2012; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin (left) observes draft picks David DeCastro (center) and Kelvin Beachum (68) as they participate in drills during rookie minicamp and orientation. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE
The new rule implemented this season allowing teams to pull a pre-designated player off IR came with a sense of optimism for Steelers fans. Highly touted first-round draft pick David DeCastro suffered a knee injury, despite requiring surgery, isn't expected to keep him out for the entire 2012 season.
Perhaps the Steelers apparent decision to not place DeCastro on the IR, designating him for return, later in the season is more reason to be optimistic.
For now, at least.
The first time players can be placed on IR with designation to return was 4 p.m. ET Tuesday. That deadline passed with no news from the Steelers on any player being placed on IR with designation to return.
FIrst, we've speculated at a possible reason for the Steelers choosing not to do this being tied in with the amount of guaranteed money DeCastro - or any other player - would be given. The new rule itself didn't address the financial piece of it, leading to the logical assumption salary for a player placed on IR would be handled the same way - meaning DeCastro's entire 2012 salary would be guaranteed if they placed him on IR.
Since DeCastro was not a top 10 pick, he doesn't have a fully guaranteed contract. At a full contract value this season of somewhere around $2 million, the Steelers would be saving a few dollars if they didn't place him on the IR right now, while the option still exists for the future.
The drawback is having to use a roster spot on a player who won't be able to play, but most accounts, until around midseason.
Those who are not always capable of adding 2 and 2 to successfully get four won't question the financial decisions of people who get paid a lot of money to make such decisions, but it's not a stretch to suggest watching how the Steelers react to new league rules and regulations is a wise move. Only one team reportedly placed a designation to return on a player they put on the IR after 4 p.m. ET Tuesday - Bengals C Kyle Cook.
Clearly, the Steelers aren't the only team employing a wait-and-see approach. Maybe the financial bottom line trumps the roster spot those players seemingly eligible for this rule option are currently taking.
The Steelers may also choose to simply hold off for now. Certainly, the situation does not make DeCastro's knee injury heal any slower, nor will his placement on IR speed his recovery.
For now, he's still on the active roster, and the Steelers are still preparing for their Week 1 prime time game at Denver.