Bruce Arians' departure from the Pittsburgh Steelers officially was labeled a retirement, but a league source told NFL Network insider Jason La Canfora on Saturday that the assistant coach was told that his contract would not be renewed this offseason.
The source said Arians wasn't fired.
The Post-Gazette reported, citing sources inside and outside the organization, that coach Mike Tomlin told Arians more than once since the team's playoff loss to Denver that he wanted him to return. The newspaper reported that Arians told his assistants and others that he planned to be back with the team in 2012, but sources said the decision to part ways with Arians came from someone higher up in the organization than Tomlin.
The Post-Gazette reported team president Art Rooney II appears to be the guy who pulled the trigger.
A league source told La Canfora that quarterback coach Randy Fichtner is an in-house option to replace Arians.
NFL Network's Michael Lombardi said that running backs coach Kirby Wilson could have been a candidate to fill the vacant spot, but his health makes that unlikely. Wilson sustained burns to his arms and legs in a house fire in early January.
The Post-Gazette reported Arians could not be reached.
The Steelers produced two 1,000-yard receivers this season in Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown, and the team had its best per-carry average (4.4 yards) since 2001. The Post-Gazette reported that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who was close to Arians, is not happy with the move.