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NFL Pittsburgh Steelers

5 Pittsburgh Steelers Who Should Be Kicked To the Curb Before Free Agency

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5 Pittsburgh Steelers Who Should Be Kicked to the Curb Before Free Agency

Pittsburgh Steelers
Jason Bridge USA TODAY Sports

Free agency is nearly upon us, and all 32 NFL franchises are faced with some dire circumstances in terms of players they may have to release to fix their current salary cap situation. These moves will also allow teams to explore free agents that might be the missing piece to the puzzle and could bring a Lombardi trophy to their fanbase.

Some might call these players being released "cap causalities," but I am simply going to call it like it is. These players need to be kicked to the curb before free agency for several reasons. Some are for salary cap purposes, some are because their play has deteriorated over the years and others are simply because they may not fit into the overall plan for the team any longer.

Either way you slice it, every NFL player's time with a specific franchise comes to an end sooner or later, and these players' time with the Pittsburgh Steelers has all but run out. If the franchise is smart they will simply cut ties with these players to not only secure the future, but to allow them to move on from some horrible contracts.

Is there a way that some players get released and then re-sign at a discounted rate? That is a possibility, but it rarely happens in today's NFL.

Time to get down to brass tax. Here are five Steelers who should be given their pink slips before free agency to allow the team more wiggle room in terms of the salary cap and free agent moves this offseason.

Jeff Hartman covers the Pittsburgh Steelers for RantSports.com and also contributes for the Penguins and Pirates. Follow him on Twitter @BnGBlitz and add him on Google+

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5. Mat McBriar

Pittsburgh Steelers
Jeff Hanisch USA TODAY Sports

Mat McBriar was brought in near the midseason mark after several punters had tried their hand at the punting duties for the Steelers. McBriar was the best option amongst Zoltan Mesko and Drew Butler, according to the Steelers brass, but having McBriar be the best amongst the trio was a situation of picking your poison. McBriar was unbelievably inconsistent this season, and he hurt the Steelers in terms of field position on more than one occasion. His 41.3 yards per punt average had him nearly at the bottom of the list of NFL punters in this category. It's time for the Steelers to get a real punter and not a rental anymore.

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4. Brett Keisel

Pittsburgh Steelers
Mark Konezny USA TODAY Sports

Brett Keisel is known among Steelers fans as "Da Beard." He has been a great player for the Steelers in his 13 years in the NFL, but sometimes a player's time simply runs out. Keisel has made it public that he wants to play another season, but the Steelers would be foolish to re-sign the defensive lineman based not only on age but more because of injury. Keisel has been shelved with injuries the past few seasons, and that is a trend that isn't going to be changing anytime soon with a 13-year veteran. Keisel gave everything he had in the tank to this organization and was rewarded with two Super Bowl victories, but it's time for the Steelers to move on.

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3. Ike Taylor

Pittsburgh Steelers
Jason Bridge USA TODAY Sports

Ike Taylor is a player who not only has seen his play slump on the field, but his overall position within the organization has changed as well. There was a time when Taylor was one of the best shutdown cornerbacks in the AFC. He would follow the opposing team's best wide receiver regardless of the side and help take them out of the game. This year he saw that change as Cortez Allen proved to be the defensive back that would normally take on the opposition's best receiver by season's end. Taylor can still play, but his contract is atrocious for a team that is already millions over the salary cap. If the Steelers can release Taylor and get him back under a new deal that would be ideal, but if that doesn't happen it might be time to cut ties with the veteran cornerback.

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2. Ryan Clark

Pittsburgh Steelers
Jason Bridge USA TODAY Sports

Ryan Clark is another defensive veteran who has hoisted the Lombardi Trophy and has epitomized what a Steelers defense should be -- hard hitting and vicious. However, Clark's mouth could very well have printed his bus ticket out of Pittsburgh. Recently, Clark spoke about Steelers teammates that knowingly break the NFL's substance policy by using marijuana on a regular basis. Clark has made it clear that he wants to pursue a career in broadcasting after his NFL career has ended, and that very well could be a reason why he has been so outspoken to the media in recent years. Nonetheless, the safety's play has gotten progressively worse, and that equation should lead to the Steelers letting Clark find employment elsewhere.

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1. LaMarr Woodley

Pittsburgh Steelers
Jason Bridge USA TODAY Sports

Probably the most discussed player entering free agency for the Pittsburgh Steelers is outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley. Woodley's injuries, attitude and overall poor performance the past few years has left the Steelers with a difficult decision. Jason Worilds outperformed Woodley in every aspect this season, and even when Woodley was healthy Worilds became the every down starter. Woodley's contract is the biggest reason that he might be staying with Pittsburgh. If the Steelers release Woodley prior to the free agency deadline they will be dealt with a hefty cap hit nearing the $10 million range. However, if the Steelers legitimately want to trim the fat and make their team better, they bite the bullet and let Woodley walk. There are tough decisions to make, but these are five the Steelers must make if they want to be a legitimate Super Bowl contender next season.