I have over the course of the past several seasons turned to a series of articles around this time of year in which I looked to explore the issues and questions facing the Pittsburgh Steelers during the upcoming season and trying to identify the range of possibilities in which any given scenario can end.
I started out with a dual series called The Optimist’s/Pessimist’s Take and switched last season to the Devil’s Advocate series. In an attempt to find a more streamlined solution with a title more suited to the actual endeavor, we are introducing a simple Buy Or Sell segment exploring whether the position statement is likely to be worth investing in as an idea.
The range of topics will be wide, from the specific to the general, exploring broad long-term possibilities to the immediate future of particular players. I will make an argument for why a concept should be bought into as well as one that can be sold, and you can share your thoughts on which is the more compelling case while offering your own.
Topic Statement: Eli Rogers will be on the 53-man roster come September.
There are two dimensions in buying into this statement. You first have to buy that the Steelers are genuinely interested in re-signing him later this offseason. You then have to buy that he is going to have a roster spot waiting for him.
The fact that he had a roster spot last season has to be a good indication in his favor. After all, the Steelers have shown favoritism in him since his rookie season when they kept him around on injured reserve after injuring his foot rather than waiving him with an injury and working out an injury settlement.
While he saw his role substantially reduced last season thanks to JuJu Smith-Schuster, he saw a niche opportunity in the final game of the season, and he also made strides as a punt returner last in the year, adding to his value. With only two stable pieces in the wide receiver group, and the team’s stated interest in bringing him back, he has to be favored to make the team over somebody like Justin Hunter.
But a lot can happen between now and September. And for one thing, they could simply never even re-sign him. If Pittsburgh ends up drafting a wide receiver, particularly within the first three or four rounds, then I think that greatly decreases the likelihood of Rogers even being brought back.
It would be hard to even find a place for him behind Antonio Brown, Smith-Schuster, Martavis Bryant, and a rookie, which already gives you four. Then you add Darrius Heyward-Bey as a special teams body and you get five already without even considering Hunter or Marcus Tucker. Or the possibility of drafting two wide receivers.
Rogers did some good things during his two seasons on the roster but he certainly is expendable. It’s not at all clear to me that he will be re-signed, let alone make the team.