Though still recovering from the torn ACL he suffered in the playoff loss to Jacksonville, Eli Rogers has a good chance to return to the Pittsburgh Steelers roster later in the offseason. At least, if Mike Tomlin gets his way. At the coaches breakfast at the Owners Meetings in Florida, Tomlin said he wants to bring Rogers back.
Mike Tomlin said WR Eli Rogers' recovery from ACL will be 'critical' for offense. Rogers is a free agent but Tomlin says he'd like him back.
— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) March 27, 2018
Rogers became a free agent when the team decided against issuing him a tender, a no-brainer considering his current injury situation. Should he return, he’ll function as the #4 receiver and top backup in the slot, replacing JuJu Smith-Schuster in the case of an injury or if Smith-Schuster has to slide to the outside to replace Antonio Brown or Martavis Bryant.
He’s also a valuable piece of the punt return team, getting a second chance last season and performing well. Based on how the roster is constructed pre-draft, there aren’t any obvious candidates to handle those duties. Cam Sutton might be the best choice of those on it and we know Tomlin’s history of avoiding defensive players in those roles.
From all accounts, and what Rogers has posted on social media, he seems to be making good progress in his recovery. Still, a torn ACL doesn’t just heal in three months and it’s unclear if he will be ready for even the start of training camp. That makes health more important than what Tomlin wants and means the Steelers are going to have to add other options, either through the draft or as UDFAs, instead of relying just on Rogers to get back to full health on time.