Over the course of the last few weeks the Pittsburgh Steelers have lost two young defensive ends that they were developing on their practice squad to other teams as rookie undrafted free agent Josh Mauro and 2013 seventh-round draft pick Nick Williams have been signed away by the Arizona Cardinals and Kansas City Chiefs respectively. While losing young defensive line talent that easily certainly does stink, not every player with potential can be kept on the 53 man roster.
As poorly as defensive lineman Cam Thomas has played this season, you still knew the Steelers weren’t going to waive him to make room for another defensive end and especially being as starting nose tackle Steve McLendon is currently still dealing with a lingering shoulder injury as Thomas serves as a backup at that position along with rookie Daniel McCullers.
Now, a good argument could be made for waiving wide receiver Justin Brown, safety Ross Ventrone or even third-string quarterback Landry Jones to make room for at least one of the two young defensive ends on the 53 man roster. But even had that happened, there was no way that either Mauro or Williams would’ve been given a helmet on gamedays unless more injuries were to happen as the Steelers generally only like to dress five defensive linemen for games unless a lengthy injury report in a given week dictates that they do otherwise.
Also, you need to keep in mind that if injured linebacker Jarvis Jones does indeed ultimately make it back from the injured reserve/designated to return list in a few more weeks, a roster spot will be needed for him as well and that complicates things even further.
I’m sure you’re thinking that all above defends the Steelers decision to let both Mauro and Williams get away, but more than anything I’m just trying to point out that both couldn’t have be saved.
So, what would I have done? After losing Mauro, I would’ve probably waived either Landry Jones, Justin Brown or Ross Ventrone in order to make room for Williams and that’s only because the Steelers lack future depth at the defensive end position and also because they have nearly two years invested in the former draft pick.
That of course didn’t happen and now both Mauro and Williams are gone. The loss of both, however, shouldn’t be deemed as being the end of the world as they both were deemed potential future backups.
Yes, it stinks, but there will be others. The Steelers are trying to win now with what they currently have and we’ll just have to sit back and watch what happens to the careers of Mauro and Williams moving forward. Perhaps one or both will somehow wind up circling back to the Steelers in the future.