Stewart Will Leave, But Not Via Trade

The Canadian quarterback came and went without causing much of a ripple Wednesday, and it looks as if the Cajun quarterback, who came to Pittsburgh about eight years ago, will leave the same way.

A source within the Steelers organization confirmed what amateur capologists have feared the past couple of weeks: The Steelers will cut Kordell Stewart without making an effort to trade him.

The reason Stewart must go, of course, is the $6.3 million base salary the back-up quarterback is due next season, the final season of a contract signed in the spring of 1999. But that bloated salary is also the reason the Steelers won't be able to trade him.

On the same day the NFL trading season begins, 2003 salaries must fall in line under the 2003 salary cap. On February 28, the Steelers must have their 53 highest-paid players under next season's cap figure.

While the NFL cap level will increase by approximately $3 million this year, the Steelers must deal with larger increases in player salaries. For example, nine players they've re-signed in the last two years will receive raises totaling $11 million.

The Steelers are also responsible for this past season's bonus incentives that weren't considered easily attainable prior to the first game. Quarterback Tommy Maddox, for instance, reached several incentive bonuses last season that will significantly increase his 2003 cap value on Feb. 28.

It's believed the Steelers could move/cut/renegotiate enough contracts to allow Stewart to remain with the team until a trade could be completed, but they'd have to deal Stewart by draft day, April 26, when each team must fit its rookie pool allotment under the cap.

Since trades are rare in the NFL anyway, and since other teams realize they can deal with Stewart once he's released, the Steelers understandably don't want to jump through the hoops necessary to keep Stewart throughout the 8-week window.

As for Anthony Calvillo, the 30-year-old CFL quarterback worked out on the South Side on Wednesday and didn't impress the Steelers.

Even though he was second in last season's CFL MVP voting and was named the outstanding player in the last Grey Cup, Calvillo isn't much of an NFL prospect. One Steelers source was asked whether Calvillo is a better prospect than former Pitt quarterback John Turman, who was released after minicamp two years ago. The source thought long and hard before saying "maybe."

By Jim Wexell

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