Now that we have completed our look at the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 90-man roster heading into training camp a bit under a month from now, it’s time to take a look back at the team’s 53-man roster from last year’s regular season, for the purpose of revisiting the contributions of the players that are no longer with the team, and whether or not those contributions have been adequately replaced.
Roster turnover is just a natural fact of today’s NFL, which have only become more prominent since the advent of free agency more than two decades ago. It’s very rare for a team to return all 11 starters on one side of the ball from one year to the next, let alone to do so for both the offense and defense.
The Steelers are certainly no exception to that rule, and they figure to have a number of lineup changes from 2015 to 2016, which seems to be increasingly common for them in recent years.
There are few players who spent less time as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers than did running back Jordan Todman last year, who was originally claimed off waivers by the team after he failed to make the Panthers’ final 53-man roster.
The Steelers had played the Panthers in the preseason, as they have done for several years now, and Todman had a strong performance against their defense, albeit in a meaningless game, including a long breakaway run a touchdown that likely played a role in Shamarko Thomas getting benched from the starting lineup.
The Steelers were in the market for an immediate backup running back because of Le’Veon Bell’s pending two-game suspension, and all of their primary candidates for the job during the preseason got beaten up and ended up being waived injured. They liked what they saw from Todman, however, and went and got him.
Not that they used him all that much, as DeAngelo Williams stayed on the field almost all the time. And, as a matter of fact, as the season wore on, Todman even lost his spot in the picking order, after Bell suffered a knee injury that ended his season.
The Steelers called up practice squad running back Fitzgerald Toussaint, and he replaced Todman as Williams’ backup after a game or two. When Williams was injured, Toussaint shouldered most of the load in two playoff starts, though Todman did get some touches and looked competent at worst.
Still, the team seemed to have little interest in re-signing him. He signed a veteran-minimum deal with the Colts fairly early on in free agency, but the team believes that they have their third running back on the roster already in Toussaint.
The Steelers were, however, interested in looking to trade into the fifth round of the 2016 NFL Draft in order to draft a running back, but they were unable to find a trading partner by the time the backs they were interested in were taken. They did add a few backs in undrafted free agency and as tryout players.