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: QB Landry Jones
Roster Vulnerability: Zero
Role Vulnerability: Low-Medium
No need to worry. Landry Jones isn’t going anywhere. No matter what happens during the 2018 NFL Draft, he is going to be on the Steelers’ roster this year. He is the only quarterback with experience behind Ben Roethlisberger.
Even if they draft a quarterback in the first round, Jones’ roster spot will not be in jeopardy. On the contrary, it likely would signal the imminent release of Joshua Dobbs. When the Steelers drafted Dobbs last year, they quickly released Zach Mettenberger. That is not an entirely neat comparison, but knowing he wouldn’t make the roster, they would likely release him early and give him a chance to make headway elsewhere. It is in their history.
Still, it is possible that Jones could lose his role as the backup quarterback by the end of the season to somebody like Mason Rudolph. While they may not want him to be starting anytime soon, the backup role could feasibly be up for grabs.
It’s rare these days for rookie quarterbacks taken in the first round to not even dress for games, when many of them are often immediately handed the keys to the franchise. Some of them have spent time on the inactive list behind another quarterback, but had generally moved up the depth chart by year’s end.
I would still put that toward the lower end of the spectrum when it comes specifically to the Steelers, who trust Jones as a backup and value that sort of experience and history at the position. If Roethlisberger goes down, Jones can run the offense far better than any rookie could without the need for adjustments.
This might not be the take many are looking for when it comes to Jones, but like it or not, even if the Steelers draft a quarterback in the first round, he will probably remain the next man up through the 2018 season.