Steelers still debating Bettis' status

Updated: February 25, 2005, 2:40 PM ET
Associated Press

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Steelers released cornerback Chad Scott and tight end Jay Riemersma on Friday in a pair of salary-cap moves that had been anticipated since their season ended last month.

The Steelers were only $500,000 under the salary cap at season's end and, partly because of the numerous performance bonuses they paid following their 15-1 regular season, they needed to trim several contracts.

The bonuses, including the more than $2 million paid rookie quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, count against next season's $85.5 million cap that goes into effect Tuesday.

Chad Scott
Scott

Jay Riemersma
Riemersma

Scott was a Steelers starter for six-plus seasons before injuring a knee Oct. 17 against Dallas. He was unable to beat out former backup Willie Williams after returning in December and spent the rest of the season and the playoffs as a reserve, though he did start the meaningless Jan. 2 game at Buffalo.

Scott's $3,885,000 base salary last season was the highest for a Steelers defensive starter. He was due to make $3,885,000 in 2005 and $4,297,000 in 2006, as part of the $25 million, six-year contract he signed in 2001.

The Steelers clear about $9 million in salary cap over the next two seasons by releasing Scott, who made 19 interceptions in 91 career games. He will count about $1 million per season against the cap through 2006, the prorated share of his $5.45 million signing bonus in 2001.

Riemersma, 31, signed with the Steelers in 2003 during their brief and unsuccessful transition to a pass-heavy offense after Tommy Maddox beat out Kordell Stewart at quarterback. But Riemersma caught only 10 passes in 11 starts as the Steelers went 6-10 in 2003, then spent 2004 as backup playing mostly on passing downs. He had 17 catches for 220 yards and three touchdowns in his two Steelers seasons.

The Steelers still must clear additional salary cap room and likely will do so by either re-signing running back Jerome Bettis to a less-burdensome contract or releasing him. Bettis is also weighing an offer from ESPN to become an NFL analyst, though it is believed he would prefer to play another season.

Bettis accepted a $2.7 million pay cut to $1 million last year, when he started the season as Duce Staley's backup. After gaining at least 100 yards in all but one of his eight starts last season, he is believed to want about $2 million in 2005 base salary -- or as much as he would count against the cap the next two seasons should the Steelers release him.

Bettis, the No. 5 rusher in NFL history, is due to make $4,484,000 in 2005 and $5,351,000 in 2006, with an additional $1 million per season counting against the cap.


Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press

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