PITTSBURGH (AP) _ Amos Zereoue was cut by Pittsburgh on Thursday, an expected move following the Steelers' worst rushing season in three decades and the signing of free-agent running back Duce Staley.

Zereoue was due to make $2.2 million as part of a deal that runs through 2005. But he was no longer needed after Pittsburgh signed Staley to a five-year contract worth $14 million.

Zereoue edged out veteran running back Jerome Bettis as the starter last season, after the Steelers shifted their offensive emphasis from the run to the pass. Zereoue was a better receiver than Bettis, but the experiment didn't work and Zereoue returned to the bench halfway through the season.

Both Bettis and Zereoue averaged 3.3 yards a carry, the main reason the Steelers went from first in the league in rushing in 2001 to 31st last season.

The Steelers' 1,488 yards on the ground were their fewest in a season since the NFL merger in 1970. Zereoue rushed for 433 yards with two touchdowns.

Zereoue, who has spent his five-year NFL career with Pittsburgh, has averaged 3.9 yards a carry and rushed for seven touchdowns. His best season was 2002, when he had 1,103 all-purpose yards and four touchdowns.