The Pittsburgh Steelers are continuing to shape their 2023 offseason roster. While some moves are made to build certain roster positions and create more competition, others can still occur due to salary cap constraints.
On Wednesday, it has been reported by NFL Networks Ian Rapoport that the Pittsburgh Steelers have informed cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon he will be released.
The #Steelers have informed veteran CB Ahkello Witherspoon that he’ll be released, source says. He started 7 games over the last two seasons.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) May 17, 2023
Selecting two cornerbacks in the 2023 NFL draft, the Steelers are not lacking in the quantity department when it comes to the position. Even with the release of Arthur Maulet last week, the Steelers had 10 cornerbacks under contract coming out of rookie minicamp.
The release of Witherspoon is likely more about the Steelers salary cap at the position where there seems to be an abundance of players. With the exact same contract as Levi Wallace, Witherspoon gives a salary cap saving of $4 million before factoring in roster displacement.
Playing two seasons in Pittsburgh after being acquired via trade from the Seattle Seahawks following the 2021 preseason, Witherspoon appeared in 13 games with seven starts. Pulling in four interceptions, three of which came in 2021, Witherspoon added 11 passes defensed and 35 tackles. After sustaining a hamstring injury in Week 3 of 2022, Witherspoon missed the next four games and returned to the Steelers lineup just before their bye week. Unfortunately, Witherspoon only lasted until halftime due to his hamstring injury and did not see the field for the rest of the season.
The timing of the release of Witherspoon is interesting as the Steelers could have made this decision early in the free-agent process or immediately following the 2023 NFL draft. While there will be plenty of speculation throughout Steelers’ Nation, the Steelers seeing their rookies in action this past weekend could have been a factor in their overall feeling at a cornerback position.
UPDATE: The Steelers have officially announced the release of Witherspoon as well as the addition of Manny Jones.
Stay tuned to Behind The Steel Curtain for continued coverage of the Pittsburgh Steelers 2023 offseason.