Steelers cut special teams captain Fiala

The handwriting was already on the wall when the Steelers signed LB Clint Kriewaldt last March. Kriewaldt was not brought in so much for depth at linebacker but for his skills on special teams. John Fiala, whom the Steelers released today, held a spot on Pittsburgh's roster for very same reason.

The Pittsburgh Steelers offered John Fiala to a few teams in hopes of gaining a low-round draft pick in exchange last April. They couldn't find any takers then and it was only a matter of time before Fiala would be cut. The question is, why now?

"Well, as Kevin [Colbert, the Steelers GM] pretty much stated, there was never any need to do anything from a June 1 standpoint with us," Bill Cowher said recently in response to a question about the status of TE Mark Bruener. "We still have to make some decisions. We have to get down to a number for training camp"

Kevin Colbert had stated that the Steelers did not need to make any moves to address the cap in terms of signing the rookie class. The dumping of Fiala, along with RB Antwan McCray, will certainly help the Steelers pare down to that "number for training camp."

However, SteelCitySports.com has recently speculated that LT Marvel Smith might be extended, and then there are the looming end-of-contracts for LB Kendrell Bell and WR Plaxico Burress. By cutting Fiala, the Steelers garner about $800,000 in cap savings. This money could also be used for signing another free agent, if the Steelers figured they might need another body for camp after getting a look at the team during the recent mini-camp.

With Fiala now gone, TE Mark Bruener's spot on the team appears solidified, if there was ever any doubt in the first place.

The Miami Dolphins drafted the perennial back-up linebacker out of Washington in 1997. He was released that September and picked up by the Steelers shortly thereafter. Fiala only started two games his entire career; the first filling in for the injured Earl Holmes in the 2001 AFC Championship, and the other last season in place of an injured Kendrell Bell. The players voted Fiala the captain of the special teams and he often competed for the starting job at inside linebacker in camp as the Steelers made personnel changes over the last few years.

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