There’s no way of getting around the fact that NFL rosters are cyclical in nature. Every year at a minimum hundreds upon hundreds of new players under the labor market for just 32 NFL teams, each of whom field 63 players per season, plus those on injured reserve.
With hundreds of players drafted every year and just as many if not more coming in as undrafted free agents, it’s inevitable that some of the 2000-plus players with NFL contracts from the season before are going to lose their spots. Some teams see far more turnover than others on a regular basis.
As we get close to the draft, I want to do some risk assessment for the Pittsburgh Steelers’ roster based on their current needs and how they have handled them in free agency, compared to how they typically go about handling their business in the draft.
Asset: CB Coty Sensabaugh
Roster Vulnerability: Medium-High
Role Vulnerability: Medium-High
Cornerback is probably not a position that the Steelers have spent an extensive amount of time evaluating this offseason with regard to the 2018 NFL Draft prospects simply because, for the first time in a long time, they have a large body of players at the position who have already shown the capability of contributing or are in the process of being groomed and tested to contribute.
With veteran Joe Haden and the developing Artie Burns in the starting lineup and Mike Hilton starting in the slot, the Steelers are already pressed with the task of finding a way of getting second-year cornerback Cameron Sutton on the field, to say nothing for the development of the raw Brian Allen. Dashaun Phillips was a late August addition that should not be ignored either.
Virtually any selection not just at the cornerback position but in the secondary could be a big blow to Sensabaugh’s chances of making the 53-man roster this year. If the Steelers draft even one safety, they greatly increase the chances of them carrying five, which greatly lowers the chances that the team carries no more than six cornerbacks, and possibly only five.
A free agent signing a year ago signed for depth purposes, Sensabaugh ended up competing for a starting job late in the preseason before Haden was signed. After Haden suffered a leg injury Sensabaugh was the first man up, starting four games, but he was benched in the second half of that fourth game in favor of the rookie Sutton, who started the following week.
By the end of the season, the veteran cornerback found himself a healthy scratch, even having had his special teams duties taken from him. while the Steelers already let go of a cornerback from last season in William Gay, it’s still fairly likely he won’t end up being the only one.