The Pittsburgh Steelers have a lot of things to think about this offseason. Not that that is different from any other offseason, but it is certainly a bit different from the norm when it comes with a cloud hanging over it courtesy of a home loss in the Divisional Round of the postseason, a game in which they put up 42 points.
Among the many things that they have to consider is their depth at wide receiver, and whether or not Eli Rogers will, or even can, be a part of that. The three-year veteran suffered a torn ACL last week and it will be difficult for him to be ready to play for the start of the 2018 season.
That calls into question whether or not the Steelers will even re-sign him, as he is currently scheduled to be a restricted free agent. They certainly don’t have to tender him a contract, but they still could sign him to a veteran-minimum deal once the new league year begins. The injury, however, makes it pointless to do so.
And so they have to keep their eyes open. And one player they may want to keep their eyes on is one who has spent most of his professional career in the building. Though he is currently under contract with the Chicago Bears, Demarcus Ayers should be a player the Steelers consider bringing back into the fold if given the opportunity.
I was going to write about Marcus Tucker, but since Dave Bryan already handled that topic yesterday, I figured that we could talk about Ayers as well. As you might recall, while the 2016 seventh-round draft pick did not make the 53-man roster, he was reportedly offered a spot on the practice squad, which he turned down.
He eventually spent time on the New England Patriots’ practice squad before connecting with the Bears two months later, and was re-signed to a Reserve/Future Contract at the start of the Bears’ offseason. That doesn’t mean his status can’t change at any moment.
While the Steelers had a lot of bodies at the wide receiver position in training camp, part of the reason that he had such a hard time making the roster is because he was battling injuries, and he hardly got much of a change to showcase himself. And he was only on the roster for a few games the season prior.
One reason that the team might seriously look at him and bringing him back if he becomes available is because they like his ability to return punts, which is the reason they drafted him. the team wanted Rogers to be their punt returner—or more accurately wanted Antonio Brown not to be—so that gives him added value.
With Justin Hunter unlikely to be re-signed and Rogers potentially gone as well, that leaves only Darrius Heyward-Bey behind Brown, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and Martavis Bryant in addition to Tucker and Justin Thomas, the latter two from the practice squad.