The Pittsburgh Steelers waived 22 players to reach the NFL mandated limit of 53. Most significantly, the Steelers cut Doran Grant, former free agent Steven Johnson and their Travis Freeney and DeMarcus Ayers, their 6th and 7th picks from the 2016 NFL Draft.
- The Steelers also traded for Cleveland Browns cornerback Justin Gilbert.
The Steelers Justin Gilbert trade could explain the Steelers decision to cut Doran Grant, who’d gotten extensive work with the Steelers first team defense. Assuming Doran Grant clears waivers however, the Steelers could resign him, assuming the Steelers place Senquez Golson on injured reserve.
- Senquez Golson suffered a Lisfrac injury in training camp that required surgery.
However, Golson has vowed to return in 2016, and by putting Golson on their initial 53 man roster, Golson will be eligible to return after the 8th week of the season. Steelers decision to waive Doran Grant last season caused a major firestorm in Steelers Nation, although Grant made it back via the practice squad, and then the active roster.
- Given Grant’s higher profile role in the Steelers preseason defense, there’s no assurance that he will go unclaimed.
So the Steelers cut Doran Grant, but take a measured risk in doing so.
Steven Johnson Caught in a Numbers Game @ Inside Linebacker
Johnson’s departure amounts to a minor surprise, as the Steelers rarely cut unrestricted free agents whom they’ve signed. The Steleers signed Steven Johnson to provide depth at inside linebacker following the free agent departures of Sean Spence and Terence Garvin.
Complete List of Steelers 2016 Cuts
The complete list of Steelers roster cuts is as follows:
Demarcus Ayers, Cobi Hamilton, and Marcus Tucker
Brandon Brown-Dukes and Cameron Stingily
Shahbaz Ahmed, Antoine Everett, Matt Feiler, and Wade Hansen
Cornerbacks Montell Garner, Doran Grant, Al-Hajj Shabazz, and Donald Washington
Lavon Hooks, Caushaud Lyons, and Johnny Maxey
Travis Feeney, Steven Johnson, and Jermauria Rasco
The Steelers also designated tight end Paul Long as waived/injured.
Steelers 2016 Practice Squad Candidates
Travis Freeney and Demarcus Ayers could return to the Steelers via the practice squad, and so too could quarterback Bryn Renner, although the Steelers normally do not use practice squad slots on quarterbacks. Wide receiver Cobi Hamilton cornerback Al-Hajj Shabazz also had strong preseasons, and remain viable practice squad candidates.
- However, cut down day 2016 likely spells the end of the pro football dreams of Donald Washington.
The Steelers gave Donald Washington’s NFL hopes a last summer of life this spring after he impressed sufficiently at rookie mini-camp. Washington, however was no rookie, having played safety for Todd Haley’s Kansas City Chiefs from 2009 to 2011. Washington therefore has no practice squad eligibility and the Steelers decision to waive him likely ends his last chance at NFL glory.