Longtime Seahawks followers know one of the mottos of the Pete Carroll/John Schneider era is to always be in on every possible personnel move that could help the team.
So it was inevitable Thursday when the news came that the Pittsburgh Steelers had released veteran guard David DeCastro to wonder: Could the Seahawks be interested?
It’s a natural thought for a few reasons, notably that DeCastro, 31, is from Bellevue and on the day he was picked 24th overall in the 2012 NFL draft by the Steelers he noted he’d been a lifelong Seahawks fan who “wasn’t the biggest Steelers fan growing up” after Pittsburgh’s win over Seattle in the Super Bowl following the 2005 season.
And DeCastro has an impressive pedigree, having been named to the Pro Bowl each of the past six years and twice named a first-team All Pro. He also has been durable, missing just seven games since 2013.
But players are never released without a reason.
DeCastro’s release was initially regarded as a surprise, it made more sense as the dust cleared. One NFL Network report stated that DeCastro may be considering retirement as he continues to deal with an ankle injury.
DeCastro had surgery on the ankle before last season, an injury that continued to bother him throughout the 2020 campaign when he played in 13 games, the fewest since his rookie year. He also dealt with knee and abdominal injuries last season as he turned in a grade of 64.1 from Pro Football Focus, which ranked 51st among all guards. That was lower than both of the Seahawks’ starting guards (Damien Lewis was 22nd and Mike Iupati 32nd) and former Seahawk Germain Ifedi (45th with the Bears), and one spot ahead of Gabe Jackson, who Seattle acquired during the offseason.
Pro Football Talk noted that DeCastro was waived with the non-football injury designation, which it theorized meant the Steelers believe DeCastro suffered a new injury to the ankle “somewhere other than at work.”
DeCastro did not take part in minicamp, which raised some questions about his future with the team, though coach Mike Tomlin was vague when asked about DeCastro.
While DeCastro’s release saved the Steelers $8.75 million against the salary cap in 2021 — he had just one year left on his contract — DeCastro has made $57 million in his career, according to Spotrac.com and could decide he’s had enough of football. He likely wouldn’t be released if both sides felt he was ready to play a season at the top of his game.
DeCastro in his prime obviously would help any team, but it can be legitimately questioned if the Seahawks would be better with him or what they already have at guard this season — second-year player Lewis on the left side and Jackson on the right, which is the side DeCastro played throughout his career.
The Seahawks are high on Lewis, a third-round draft pick out of LSU in 2020, and wouldn’t make any move to block his playing time. But he did play one game at center last year (against Arizona), and the Seahawks could consider moving him there at some point, though for now they have their top two centers from last year back in Ethan Pocic and Kyle Fuller. Carroll portrayed the Pocic/Fuller battle at center as an open competition during the offseason program.
The Seahawks also wouldn’t make a move at this point to block Jackson, who was acquired for a fifth-round pick from the Raiders and signed to a three-year contract that includes $10.075 million in guaranteed money. That is also the dead-salary-cap number for 2021, a lot for a player to consign to a reserve role.
Carroll also indicated last month that the Seahawks may be done making major additions until they get into training camp and see what they have.
“Until we get on the field and can see how things are starting to come together there won’t be major changes in what’s going on, because we’re pretty committed at this point,” Carroll said in May when asked if the team would consider re-signing linebacker K.J. Wright. “That doesn’t mean that we’re not tuned into all of the options and the opportunities that are out there, because we are.”
So the combination of DeCastro’s age, injury history and seeming set at guard could mean this isn’t a union that is likely to happen.
And if DeCastro’s playing days are indeed over, it would mark the end of one of the better NFL careers by a Washington-born player.
DeCastro was a Seattle Times Blue Chip pick in 2008 before signing with Stanford.
At Stanford he was a key part of the Jim Harbaugh-coached teams — which included future Seahawks Doug Baldwin and Richard Sherman — that brought the Cardinal back to football prominence, including an Orange Bowl win following the 2010 season.