While we do not as of yet know anything official, we have received word from a variety of sources that give insight to what we should be hearing later today about how the Pittsburgh Steelers intend to go about assembling their 53-man roster.
Perhaps the most surprising move that we have some degree of certainty of is the team’s decision not just to waive third-year cornerback B.W. Webb, but to go with just five cornerbacks on the roster.
The Steelers entered the final preseason game with seven cornerbacks, and they also cut Kevin Fogg. While Fogg has practice squad eligibility, Webb does not, which no doubt provided the team a sense of comfort in their ability to keep six cornerbacks within their 63 total players.
Webb, a former fourth-round draft pick of the Cowboys, was originally claimed off waivers by the Steelers on the day prior to the start of the 2014 regular season. He was active in 11 games, playing primarily on special teams, although he saw a small handful of snaps as a dimeback late in the year.
Webb was among the players that the Steeler considered drafting in the fourth round of the 2013 NFL Draft, when he was selected, so it was not surprising that the team did not hesitate to add him to the roster when given the opportunity.
He was given the full year to integrate into the Steelers’ system, with the hopes that he would make a jump similar to that of Antwon Blake, who was claimed off waivers just prior ti the 2013 season and blossomed into a core special teams player and eventually a defensive contributor.
The word is, however, that that is not to be, with the team expected to cut him along with 21 other players later today. He was given extensive playing time this season—nearly 150 snaps on defense—but did not evidently live up to expectations.
According to Pro Football Focus’ tracking, Webb was targeted 14 times in five games, nearly once every 10 snaps, allowing 11 receptions for 107 yards and a 98.5 quarterback rating. He gave up a number of third-down receptions that moved the chains, as I recall.
While he did not record a turnover, however, he did have two pass deflections, one of which resulting in an interception for Fogg in the first preseason game. He was also consistently aggressive in playing the pocket of the receiver.
I suspect that it was not so much Webb’s overall play, but rather the desire to open up roster spots elsewhere, that led the Steelers to the decision to release him, and to carry only five cornerbacks. I suspect that this means the team does carry five safeties, after all, which was a question.
Webb was claimed by the Steelers last season, so it’s certainly not unlikely that he is claimed again. He may yet become a contributor for somebody else down the road, although it does not help to be moving into your third defense in three years, with the introduction into each defense coming just prior to the start of the season.