We begin this latest installment of our Steelers 2019 free agent focus by paying homage to the legendary Washington, DC Sports Radio personality, the late Ken Beatrice who often lamented to his listeners:
- I offer my apologies for not having gone to law school to bring you the sports news.
And this was in the ‘80’s and ‘90’s. We bring that up because it is not 100% clear that Eli Rogers as a free agent, as his contract was “tolled.” Whatever that means. But so was Ryan Shazier’s, and at one point word was that Shazier needed a new contract, but now that’s not so clear.
So we’re presuming that Eli Rogers is in fact a free agent that the Steelers must make a decision on.
Capsule Profile of Eli Roger’s Steelers Career
Eli Rogers joined the Steelers as a member of their 2015 undrafted rookie free agent class. Fighting his way up a depth chart headed by Antonio Brown, Markus Wheaton, Martavis Bryant, Darrius Heyward-Bey and Sammie Coates, Rogers chances of securing a roster spot appeared slim.
- Yet by late August, USA Today Steelers Wire writer Neal Coolong went as far as to compare Rogers to a young Antonio Brown.
Shortly thereafter, injuries ruined Roger’s rookie season sending him to injured reserve.
In 2016 Eli Rogers vindicated Coolong’s praise by earning the slot receiver job. By the end of the season, Rogers served as Steelers defacto number 2 wide out, and had caught 48 passes, putting him behind only Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell.
In 2017 JuJu Smith-Schuster’s emergence and Martavis Bryant’s return diminished Eli Rogers offensive role. Although Eli Rogers’ catch percentage dipped in 2017, his performance perked up at the end of the season, and during the playoff loss to the Jaguars he was a perfect 5-5.
- Unfortunately, Eli Rogers tore his ACL in that game, and began 2018 on the PAP list.
Eli Rogers was activated for the Steelers final 3 games and clearly gave the offense a boost.
The Case for the Steelers Resigning Eli Rogers
How does 12 of 14 suit you? Those are Eli Roger’s catch-target numbers for the three games he played in 2019. Pittsburgh’s 2018 offense while potent, was missing something for much of the year.
That missing link was a third wide receiver. James Washington wasn’t quite ready to fill that role, and Justin Hunter was unable. While Ryan Switzer was a quality 4th wide out. It is going to be all hands on deck for the Steelers wide receiving corps as Pittsburgh looks to “replace” Antonio Brown.
Eli Rogers is never got to grow into an Antonio Brown type receiver, but he provides quality depth and has shown he came come up in big games, going 4-4 catching everything Ben Roethlisberger threw his way in his first action in the win over the Patriots.
The Case Against the Steelers Resigning Eli Rogers
The Steelers are going to bring in another starting-caliber wide receiver, perhaps through the draft or perhaps via free agency – or perhaps using both channels. Assuming those players deliver as promised, does that really leave room for Eli Rogers on the Steelers 2019 roster?
Perhaps more importantly, does that justify investing precious salary cap dollars and signing bonus money in someone you might end up cutting in late August anyway?
Curtain’s Call on the Steelers and Eli Rogers
The Steelers clearly like Eli Rogers, having resigned him last summer when they knew he wasn’t going to contribute for most of the year. Rogers delivered as soon as his number was called, picking up right where he left off in the Jaguars debacle.
The Steelers should bring him back, and almost certainly they will.