Maurkice Pouncey recently made the Pro Bowl for the eighth time in his career. Here’s why the Steelers should still consider cutting him next season.
Let me start by saying that I know this isn’t going to be a popular idea. Maurkice Pouncey has had an excellent career in Pittsburgh, and the 2019 Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee is an excellent leader and teammate in the locker room. However, there are several compelling reasons why the Steelers should cut him following the 2019 season.
Pouncey hit his stride several years back. In 2014, the prolific center earned his second First-Team All-Pro honors in his 5th NFL season. However, his play has gradually dipped since then.
This year, Pouncey has been historically bad. When you put on the film, you see a player who opened up minimal holes for the rushing attack and was constantly bullied in pass protection. Pouncey has also had several terrible snaps this year – one of them even resulted in a defensive touchdown against the Los Angeles Rams.
Pro Football Focus would agree with what we have seen. They have him ranked 36th out of 36 eligible centers this year in terms of his overall grade. Pouncey has been a fantastic player for the Steelers, but nearly a decade into his career, he has become expendable.
The biggest reason the Steelers should look to cut Maurkice Pouncey this year, however, is because of his contract. Pittsburgh is in a major bind financially – projected to have the 4th worst cap space in the NFL in 2020 – and Pouncey is set to make $22 million over the course of the next two seasons.
This is an awful lot for a player who will be 31 and 32 years old in those seasons, and who is currently having a bad year at age 30.
I know that Pouncey recently made the Pro Bowl for the 8th time his 10-year career (which I admit is very impressive). However, a fan-voted honor hardly means that Pouncey is worth the kind of compensation he is set to receive.
If the Steelers were in a better financial situation with money to blow, then I would say let’s ride out his contract over the next two seasons. But because of his poor play as of late and the fortune he is set to earn, Pittsburgh should consider parting ways with the former All-Pro. The Steelers could save $13 million against the cap over the next two years if they elect to go this route.
At the end of the day, Maurkice Pouncey isn’t going anywhere. He is a favorite of Ben Roethlisberger and Mike Tomlin and has established a reputation as one of the better centers to play the game over the last decade of football. However, strictly from a business perspective, cutting Pouncey is a move that would make sense.