The truth about Gildon

In Tampa, the Bucs released All-Pro safety John Lynch Thursday and have made no effort to re-sign All-Pro defensive tackle Warren Sapp.

On the same day Lynch was given his walking papers, Steelers director of football operations Kevin Colbert stated that linebacker Jason Gildon will be with the team in training camp.

Lynch, Sapp and Gildon all have something in common. They were once productive players, but have outlived their usefulness, at least at their current salaries or, in Sapp's case, the salary he is trying to acquire as a free agent.

Football is not a sport played by old men, unless those old men happen to be offensive linemen, quarterbacks or ageless wonders like Rod Woodson or Jerry Rice.

But guys like Woodson and Rice are Hall of Fame players. Lynch is a borderline Hall of Famer, while Sapp has a Hall of Fame mouth. Gildon? He might earn mention in the Steelers Great Hall at Heinz Field, but that's about it.

But there was Colbert Thursday, insisting Gildon would be with the team when training camp begins, despite the fact Clark Haggans was signed for a starter's money and his agent was told Haggans would battle Alonzo Jackson for Gildon's old starting spot.

What gives?

There were some within the Steelers organization who were quite upset when it was reported a week before it happened that tight end Mark Bruener and cornerback Dewayne Washington were going to be released.

Some Steelers officials didn't feel those reports were being respectful to the players.

But those same Steelers officials have to understand that reporters have a job to do and that high-profile players being released is big news, even if it was expected as was the case of Bruener and Washington.

Gildon is due a salary of $3.65 million this season and his cap value is nearly $5 million. Even if the Steelers wanted to re-work his contract in the same manner they did with running back Jerome Bettis, because of his remaining signing bonus, the best they could do would be to get his cap value into the $2 million range. And considering Gildon won't be a starter, that's too much money.

Add to that head coach Bill Cowher's dislike for having former starters hanging around in the locker room when they are no longer starters, and Colbert's statement has something of a hollow ring to it.

Maybe Colbert wasn't stretching the truth. Maybe the team is so unimpressed with Jackson, it's second-round pick of a year ago, that it feels it has to bring Gildon back as a backup this season.

But I doubt it. Keeping Gildon around for another year just doesn't make any sense. If Tampa Bay can cut bait with Lynch and Sapp, two key members of a Super Bowl squad that helped lift the Bucs out of NFL obscurity, the Steelers can certainly do the same with Gildon.

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