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Steelers release David DeCastro with NFI designation

Mike Florio and Big Cat break down the latest news coming out of minicamps across the league, including Patrick Mahomes' recovery from a toe injury, Dwayne Haskins' fresh start in Pittsburgh and more.

The Steelers have moved on from guard David DeCastro. They’ve done so in a way that prevents him from realizing any additional benefits from the team, if his ankle problem prevents him from playing this year.

According to the league’s official transaction report, DeCastro was released with a non-football injury designation. This means that, in the team’s estimation, his injury is not football related.

Although DeCastro’s $8.75 million salary wasn’t guaranteed for injury, the labor deal makes certain benefits available to players who are released due to injury. And it appears that DeCastro didn’t suffer the injury during the offseason program, given that he was held out of last week’s mandatory minicamp.

DeCastro played in the playoff loss to the Browns, and he presumably passed an exit physical. So something happened with DeCastro’s ankle between early January and now, something that the team believes happened somewhere other than at work.

If DeCastro suffered an injury while working out in anticipation of the 2021 season, a Ja’Wuan James-type situation could arise, with an argument that the injury should be covered and DeCastro’s salary should be paid, even if he can’t play. For now, there’s no contention along those lines. But the NFI designation -- a financial slamming of the door in DeCastro’s face -- could have ramifications as the dust settles on this development.