There were thoughts that James Farrior could return to the Steelers given the lack of experience and depth at inside linebacker. They did it last year with offensive tackle Max Starks, who was released and then brought back after things fell apart on the line.
But the Steelers aren't planning on a similar reunion with Farrior. In fact, they're pretty much against it.
“When we terminated those players, it was a termination,’’ Colbert told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette while bringing out his inner Arnold Schwarzenegger. “We felt that was it, their time as a Steeler was over. It was time for everybody to move forward and that’s where we left it. You never say never but they also know we all understand that was it.”
Colbert's hard-line stance gives the strong impression that Farrior's release was as much about his declining performance as his $2.8 million salary. If cutting him was purely a salary-cap move, the Steelers would be more open to bringing Farrior back at a reduced salary down the line sometime.
Farrior, 37, recorded 78 tackles last season, his fewest ever for the Steelers, and started rotating with Larry Foote. At this point, the Steelers will let Foote and Stevenson Sylvester compete for the job. Colbert also didn't rule out outside linebackers Jason Worilds and Chris Carter converting to the inside.
"We’ll see where the competition leads, and that does not preclude us from having somebody either from free agency or the draft," Colbert said. "We’ll see where it goes.”
I believe the successor to Farrior isn't on the team yet. Alabama's Dont'a Hightower in the perfect fit for the Steelers in terms of playing in a 3-4 defense and being a leader. He should be available when the Steelers select 24th in the first round.