With the 2015 NFL Draft and rookie minicamp now in the rearview mirror, the Pittsburgh Steelers 90-man offseason roster is getting pretty close to set, although there are always some late movements to balance out positional numbers or replace injured or underperforming players.
Now that the rookie class in in-house and the tryout players have either come and gone or stuck around, it’s time to take one last look at the Steelers’ roster as we head into the meat of the offseason. First up, as always, is the quarterback position.
Ben Roethlisberger: The franchise quarterback could be primed to command his best season yet in 2015, as long as the offense can sustain itself in the absence of Le’Veon Bell to start the year. For the first time in franchise history, a Steelers quarterback led the league in passing yardage. He also tied his own franchise record with 32 touchdowns passes and earned his third trip to the Pro Bowl. With the offense continuing to grow around him, it would be no surprise to see the offense become even more prolific this season, assuming everybody stayed relatively healthy.
Bruce Gradkowski: Despite the fact that he has played a total of 10 snaps in the two years that he has been here, the Steelers still appear to feel comfortable with Gradkowski as their backup plan for now, and he has given them no reason to doubt that. Though he is in the final year of his contract, based on his competition, it does seem more likely than not that he is headed for a re-signing after this season.
Landry Jones: Drafted in the fourth round in the 2013 NFL Draft, it is obvious that the front office was hoping that Jones would at least be able to push Gradkowski for the backup position by now. Although that inability to do so is not already set in stone, it doesn’t appear likely that Gradkowski’s spot is in much jeopardy—at all. In fact, it seems more likely that Jones finds himself off the roster this year, or at least on the practice squad.
Tajh Boyd: The Steelers approached Boyd during this offseason, telling him that they liked his arm and were interested him in the draft the previous year, but were more serious about adding competition to the back end this year, an obvious commentary on Jones’ progress. The hope is that he can at least push Jones to improve, even if he doesn’t beat him out. It’s possible that the winner of this competition lands on the practice squad.
Notes: The Steelers had quarterback Doug Williams, Jr. in on a tryout basis for rookie minicamp, although he was not signed. Although throwing balls during that camp was Tyler Murphy, who was a quarterback in college but has transitioned to wide receiver in the pros. Pittsburgh just claimed another former college quarterback-turned-wide receiver off waivers after landing Devin Gardner. The Steelers showed interest in both players during the draft process.