Pittsburgh Steelers release cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon

Pittsburgh Steelers v Cleveland Browns
Pittsburgh Steelers v Cleveland Browns / Nick Cammett/GettyImages

For months, we speculated that the Pittsburgh Steelers could release cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon. Now this move has become official. Ian Rapoport of NFL Network confirmed that the team is parting ways with the veteran cornerback.

This shouldn't come as a big surprise -- especially after Pittsburgh doubled up on cornerback in the 2023 NFL Draft with Joey Porter Jr. and Cory Trice Jr. Prior to this move, the Steelers essentially had a group of tall, long boundary cornerbacks, and Witherspoon quickly became just a face in the background.

With so many players with similar body types and skill sets, there weren't going to be enough helmets to go around. By releasing Witherspoon, Pittsburgh will save $4 million for the 2023 season. Previously, the team sat at just $8.13 million above the salary cap, according to Over the Cap. That number will now rise to over $12 million.

The Steelers typically like to enter the season with $8-10 million in their pocket in case injuries pop up during the season and they need to add players to their roster. However, now that they have a bit of extra spending cash, they could try to go out and sign a free agent.

Steelers could veteran after releasing Ahkello Witherspoon

While the money saved from cutting Ahkello Witherspoon isn't substantial, it's enough to add a depth option at another position. Edge defender has been a topic of discussion all offseason. Though the team did select Nick Herbig in the fourth round of the 2023 NFL Draft, he may not be ready for a heavy role as a rotational pass rusher early in his career.

It's even possible that the Steelers are looking to fill Witherspoon's vacant roster spot with another cornerback -- one who can fill the slot role for Pittsburgh. This team lost Cameron Sutton in free agency and already cut Arthur Maulet. A slot corner could certainly be on the horizon.

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Whichever direction they choose to go, releasing Ahkello Witherspoon doesn't come as a big surprise now that they've added young talent to the cornerback position. This made financial sense for the Pittsburgh Steelers and Witherspoon wasn't expected to play a big role on defense this year. Witherspoon could land back on his feet with another NFL club soon.