Besides sending a message, the Steelers received something in return when they terminated the contract of wide receiver Cedrick Wilson hours after he was arrested for punching his former girlfriend Wednesday night.
They gained more than $2 million in salary cap room that might be used in signing a free agent or put toward signing one of their own players to a long-term contract.
As of yesterday, counting Wilson's Thursday release, the Steelers have $2.3 million in salary cap room after dipping to about $300,000 in room Wednesday.
Wilson was scheduled to earn a salary of $2,085,000 in 2008 but because it is not guaranteed, that money no longer has to be paid -- players receive their salaries during the regular season -- and the Steelers' salary cap was the immediate beneficiary.
The former Steelers receiver will still count $500,000 against their salary cap for 2008 because that represents the pro-rated portion of the $2 million signing bonus he received when he joined them as an unrestricted free agent from the San Francisco 49ers in 2005.
It is possible Wilson's release Thursday merely came four months early. His position on the team slid from starter in 2006 to their No. 4 wide receiver last season. Combined with his low production -- 18 receptions last season and just two touchdowns in three seasons -- it did not justify his $2 million salary.
Wilson might have been released anyway had the Steelers drafted a wide receiver or signed one in free agency. They also could have asked him to take a pay cut for 2008 had he not been arrested for assaulting his former girlfriend Wednesday night and remained on the team.