You'd think the team had just cut Antonio Brown.
Okay, that's an exaggeration. But the outcry today after the Steelers announced that safety/inside linebacker Ian Wild was among the first round of cuts would certainly make you think that some beloved veteran had just lost his job.
Sure, he played well this pre-season. So has Will Allen. So has Alden Darby. And Robert Golden.
Safeties, all of them. And that's not even mentioning Shamarko Thomas and Mike Mitchell, who are the de facto starters a little less than two weeks from now.
Wild was not beating Allen, who is one of the best backup safeties around. He's not spectacular -- if he was, he would be the starter. But he's solid and has years of experience in this defense.
He also wasn't beating Golden, who was a special-teams co-captain along with injured kicker Shaun Suisham in 2014.
He did play better than Darby, and I'd wager that's exactly why he was cut. Releasing him now, while all teams still have one more pre-season game left on the schedule, gives him an opportunity to latch on with another team that may be lacking in safety depth, and get his feet wet in their tide before the season commences. Between Wild and Darby, Wild was the better, and stood the greater chance of finding employment elsewhere.
At the same time, the team kept Darby -- and Ross Ventrone, and Gerod Holliman -- because they still need to insulate the guys who will make the team, allowing them to play a handful of snaps or less before giving the reins to guys who probably never had a chance to begin with.
Yes, Wild also spent time at inside linebacker, but let's be honest here. We all know he wasn't anywhere near the caliber of Lawrence Timmons, Ryan Shazier, Sean Spence or Vince Williams. And, much as was the case with Golden, he wasn't going to take Terence Garvin's spot on special teams, either. If anyone takes that spot, it's probably going to be an outside linebacker, where the depth is much weaker.
So, the reality of the matter is that there just wasn't room for Wild. And, likely out of courtesy for a promising young man who already has some professional experience in the Canadian Football League, he was likely cut to give him a chance elsewhere.
We are all allowed to dream, but, in the end, reality wins out. And the reality for Wild was simply that there was no room for him in at the inn.