The Pittsburgh Steelers made their roster cut downs yesterday and while Kevin Colbert and Mike Tomlin did not unload any major surprises on the fan base, the team did part way with two veterans.
- The biggest and perhaps most difficult move was the decision to cut veteran wide receiver Eli Rogers.
Eli Rogers joined the Steelers as an undrafted rookie free agent in 2015, spent the year on injured reserve, and emerged as their starting slot receiver by the end of training camp in 2016. By season’s end, Eli Rogers was their defacto number 2 wide out.
That role was probably a step too big for Rogers, but no one can deny that Rogers 48 catches and 3 touchdowns equaled phenomenal production for a player that few fans had even heard of going into August. In 2017 Eli Roger’s production dipped, thanks largely to JuJu Smith-Schuster and Martavis Bryant‘s presence, but Eli Rogers played extremely well in the playoff loss to the Jaguars, as Ben Roethlisberger connected with him on all five attempts.
- Rogers unfortunately tore his ACL in that loss, and didn’t return to the Steelers roster until late in 2018.
However, Eli Rogers did well grabbing 12 of 14 balls thrown his way during the season’s final 3 weeks, as Rogers gave the Steelers a legitimate 3rd wide receiver. Going into training camp, Eli Rogers was seen as competing with Ryan Switzer for a roster spot. While this writer asserts that Eli Rogers is a better wide out than Switzer, Switzer is a better return man, and with James Washington and Donte Moncrief that’s a trade off the Steelers can afford to make.
Steelers Trade Jerald Hawkins to Tampa Bay
The Steelers also traded Jerald Hawkins to Tampa Bay, exchanging a 7th round pick and Hawkins for Tampa Bay’s 6th round pick. The Steelers of course drafted Jerald Hawkins in the 4th round of the 2016 NFL Draft. Hawkins had a strong training camp, only to get injured in the Steelers preseason win over the New Orleans Saints.
Hawkins would be back in 2017, only to get injured in spring practices in 2018. Word was he was not fully recovered going into 2019 and effectively found himself behind undrafted rookie free agents.
Credit Kevin Colbert for getting a 6th round pick for a player that the Steelers were going to cut anyway.
Other Steelers Who Got a Visit from “The Turk”
The Steelers cut a host of other players to reach the roster limit. Those cuts included:
Trey Edmunds, Travon McMillian and Malik Williams,
Trey Griffey, Johnny Holton, Tevin Jones, Brandon Reilly, Eli Rogers and Diontae Spencer
Micky Crum, Kevin Rader, Christian Scotland-Williamson and Trevor Wood
Garrett Brumfield, Derwin Gray, J.C. Hassanauer, Patrick Morris and Damian Prince
Marcus Allen, Dravon Askew-Henry, Marcelis Branch, Jhvonte Dean, P.J. Locke and Trevon Mathis
Jayrone Elliott, Christian Kuntz, Tegray Scales, Sutton Smith and Robert Spillane
Winston Craig, Greg Gilmore, Henry Mondeaux, Casey Sayles and Conor Sheehy
Marcus Allen, Derwin Gray, Trey Edmunds, Patrick Morris, Christian Scotland-Williamson, Kevin Rader, Robert Spillane have already returned to the Steelers practice squad. One spot remains open, and Jim Wexell points out, it could be filled by either Sutton Smith or Johnny Holton.