Now that the 2018 NFL Draft is in the books, and the roster heading into the offseason is close to finalized—though always fluid—it’s time to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand. Specifically where Steelers players stand individually based on what we have seen happen over the course of the past few months.
A stock evaluation can take a couple of different approaches and I’ll try to make clear my reasonings. In some cases it will be based on more long-term trends, such as an accumulation of offseason activity. In other instances it will be a direct response to something that just happened. So we can see a player more than once over the course of the summer as we head toward training camp.
Player: Trey Johnson
Stock Value: Sold
Evaluation Type: Major, Moderate-Term
Reason: Injury, Waived
The Steelers only added two players to the cornerback position this summer in undrafted rookies Trey Johnson and Jamar Summers. Now one of them is gone as we open training camp, the former receiving a waived/injured designation with a shoulder injury.
What happens next for Johnson is that he will go through the waiver system, in which all 31 other teams will have the opportunity to put in a claim for him to add him to their roster. This is highly unlikely to happen for a rookie undrafted free agent with an injury.
Provided that he clears waivers, he would revert back to the Steelers’ injured reserve list, but what happens from that point on is to be determined by those two parties. If the team really values him, he can be left on injured reserve for the duration of the season, earning a contract.
Otherwise, an injury settlement could be reached in which the player would receive some level of compensation for the time that he would be expected to be unable to participate due to the injury that he suffered.
Johnson was an interesting prospect out of Villanova. A smaller in size coverage cornerback with speed, he was in need of bulking up for sure, but he has a skill set that could at least help separate him from a group of undrafted players.
The Steelers still have depth at the cornerback position, retaining six players from last season’s 53-man roster, even after releasing William Gay. They also have Dashaun Phillips, an NFL-experienced cornerback who was on their practice squad last season.
It would have been very difficult for Johnson to make the roster, or even the practice squad, but there are always opportunities for fast cornerbacks who can cover as long as they can earn their keep early on by contributing on special teams, and the Steelers have given chances to a number of players of that variety under Mike Tomlin, even if they haven’t panned out.