Steelers Not Done Clearing Salary Cap

The Steelers began the process of getting below the NFL's salary cap Friday, releasing a pair of veterans, cornerback Chad Scott and tight end Jay Riemersma.

NFL teams must be under the league's salary cap of an estimated $85 million by March 1. Releasing Scott saves the Steelers $2 million, while waiving Riemersma saves the team $1 million.

Those two moves should put the Steelers at or just below the cap. But the team must tender offers to its restricted free agents by March 1 or risk losing them without any compensation. Among those players who must be tendered offers are placekicker Jeff Reed, starting free safety Chris Hope, starting inside linebacker Larry Foote and third-down back Verron Haynes.

In order to make those offers, the Steelers will likely be forced to release more players or adjust the contracts of others. They are currently working on a new deal for 2005 with running back Jerome Bettis, who is scheduled to count more than $5 million against the team's cap next season. If the Steelers release Bettis, the NFL's fifth all-time leading rusher, they would save $2 million. But Bettis took a nearly $3 million paycut in 2004 and the Steelers would like him to take a similar cut in 2005.

Scott and Riemersma are both former starters who no longer figured into the team's plans.

The team's top draft pick in 1997, Scott had started 88 games during his career with the team, picking off 19 passes. He suffered a knee injury Oct. 17 of last season in a victory over Dallas and did not return until the team's regular season finale at Buffalo. Scott was replaced in the starting lineup by veteran Willie Williams, who remained the starter even after Scott returned.

Riemersma, a nine-year veteran, joined the Steelers in 2003 after being released by Buffalo.

Once a premiere pass-catching tight end, Riemersma's tenure with the Steelers was marred by injuries. In two seasons with the Steelers, Riemersma made 17 receptions for 220 yards (12.9 avg.) and three touchdowns.

He started all 11 games that he played in during his first season with the Steelers in 2003. Riemersma has caught 221 passes for 2,524 yards (11.4 avg.) and 23 touchdowns during his nine-year career.

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