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AP: Steelers cut LB Jason Gildon in salary cap move


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Steelers cut LB Jason Gildon in salary cap move

June 2, 2004


Former All-Pro linebacker Jason Gildon was released Wednesday by the Pittsburgh Steelers in a long-expected move that creates $3.65 million of salary cap room for the team.

Gildon, who will be 32 next month, learned weeks ago he would be traded or released. The Steelers also told him not to attend last month's minicamp or their ongoing voluntary coaching sessions, though he has worked out by himself at the team's practice complex.

Gildon, the team's all-time sacks leader, was the last player remaining on the Steelers' roster from the team that lost to Dallas in the Super Bowl in January 1996.

By releasing Gildon, the Steelers freed themselves of his $3.65 million salary but still must count $1.3 million of his deferred signing bonus against their 2004 cap and $2.6 million next year. They would have been required to count the entire $3.9 million this year if they had cut Gildon before now.

"Jason has been a very productive player and team leader for us the past 10 years," coach Bill Cowher said in a statement. "Unfortunately, in this system, some very difficult decisions have to be made."

The 6-foot-4, 255-pound Gildon, coming off two consecutive down seasons after making All-Pro in 2001, is expected to sign shortly with another team. The Texans, Redskins, Packers, Ravens and Browns are believed to be interested in Gildon.

Gildon knew his 10-year Steelers career was effectively over when they signed his former backup, Clark Haggans, to a $10.2 million, four-year contract on March 6. Haggans will slide into Gildon's starting position at left outside linebacker.

"It's part of the business, and I understand that," Gildon said recently. "But it's kind of disappointing because of how long I've been here."

Haggans is five years younger than Gildon and has been productive in a backup role, getting 6½ sacks in 2002. The Steelers also needed to free up some salary cap room to give quarterback Tommy Maddox more money and to pay their draft class, which includes quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

They also may try to sign linebackers James Farrior and Kendrell Bell to contract extensions before the season starts.

Gildon was disappointed the Steelers didn't offer to bring him back at a much-reduced salary, as they did with running back Jerome Bettis. Bettis agreed to a salary cut from $3.6 million to $1 million after losing his full-time starting job last season.

Gildon was a third-round draft pick in 1994, played in the January 1996 Super Bowl against Dallas and became a starter in 1996, twice making the Pro Bowl. He had six sacks last season, giving him 77 in his career -- 3½ more than previous record-holder L.C. Greenwood. Hall of Famer Joe Greene is third with 66 sacks.

Gildon has seen his sacks total decline from 13½ in 2000 and 12 in 2001 to nine in 2002 and six last season.

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