ShareThis Page
Steelers

Steelers expected to release safety Mike Mitchell

Joe Rutter
| Friday, March 9, 2018, 8:24 p.m.
The Steelers' Mike Mitchell misses Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith in the fourth quarter Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017 at Arrowhead Stadium.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Steelers' Mike Mitchell misses Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith in the fourth quarter Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017 at Arrowhead Stadium.
Jaguars fullback Tommy Bohanon scores past Steelers safety Mike Mitchell during the fourth quarter of their AFC Divisional playoff game Sunday, Jan. 14, 2017, at Heinz Field.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Jaguars fullback Tommy Bohanon scores past Steelers safety Mike Mitchell during the fourth quarter of their AFC Divisional playoff game Sunday, Jan. 14, 2017, at Heinz Field.

The transformation of the Steelers defense will include more than a new starting inside linebacker next season.

The Steelers are expected to have a new starter in the secondary in 2018 after the impending release of free safety Mike Mitchell.

Mitchell has one more year remaining on his five-year, $25 million contract, but he won't get to see it through to completion. The NFL Network reported Friday that Mitchell will be released next week in an effort to provide salary-cap relief.

On his Twitter account, Mitchell responded to the NFL Network report by writing, "It is what it is."

The report was not surprising. Mitchell, who will turn 31 in June, is coming off a season in which he made few big plays and missed the first three games of his Steelers career because of injury. Mitchell is scheduled to make $5 million in base salary and would count $8.13 million against the salary cap.

Releasing Mitchell – it's possible the Steelers could try to bring him back at a lesser salary – would provide the Steelers some much-needed cap space entering free agency on Wednesday. The Steelers are about $1 million under the cap after restructuring wide receiver Antonio Brown's contract.

The savings would be $5 million minus the cost to replace Mitchell on the roster with a player making the NFL minimum.

Mitchell had no interceptions, two passes defensed and 53 tackles last year in 13 games that included 12 starts. He missed his first game in four years with the Steelers on Oct. 1 when he sat out against Baltimore with a hamstring injury. Mitchell later missed games against Tennessee and Cincinnati with ankle injuries.

The absence of Mitchell would allow the Steelers to move third-year safety Sean Davis from strong safety to free safety. The Steelers could address strong safety in the draft or free agency, plus they have J.J. Wilcox ($3.125 million base salary) on the roster. The only other safeties on the roster with NFL experience are Robert Golden, mainly a special teams player, and Jordan Dangerfield, who spent last year on the practice squad.

Davis, cornerback Artie Burns and nose tackle Javon Hargrave were part of a youth movement on defense when they became starters as rookies in 2016. Rookie outside linebacker T.J. Watt became a starter last season.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me