When the Pittsburgh Steelers open the regular season against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday, they figure to be bringing with them 13 new faces that were not on the 53-man roster a year ago—at least as these currently stand, or are projected to stand. The numbers might deviate a bit between now and then, but that is the ballpark.
That is far from exceptionally high—the Cleveland Browns routinely have 20 or more new faces—nor incredibly low. The Steelers of the mid-late 2000s usually had new faces in the single digits, so this is a pretty moderate turnover for them historically. Let’s introduce ourselves to the new faces, at least while they’re still here.
There is one new presence in the quarterback room, and there was never any doubt of him making it. Mason Rudolph was drafted in the third round not because the team needed another quarterback but because they saw in him a player who could be their next long-term starter. But he will have to develop first.
At running back is rookie fifth-round pick Jaylen Samuels, but his roster spot is not assured yet. A move must be made before Le’Veon Bell is activated, and either he or Stevan Ridley are as likely as any to be released to make room.
Two new wide receivers were brought in, including rookie second-round pick James Washington, who is expected to play a big role this season in the number three role. Second-year Ryan Switzer was just acquired via trade and should serve as their return man this year.
The offensive line saw two additions as well in rookie third-round pick Chukwuma Okorafor, who should be the swing tackle, and Zach Banner. Banner was a 2017 draft pick who did not make a roster. He was signed late in training camp but impressed enough to make the team.
Defensively, there were three new faces added at linebacker, and four at safety. Free agent starter Jon Bostic was brought in back in March, while undrafted rookies Matthew Thomas and Olasunkanmi Adeniyi earned their roster spots with their play in the preseason.
Only one safety remains from last season’s roster, but there is one additional carryover from 2016 in Jordan Dangerfield. Then there is Morgan Burnett, the other free agent starter, plus rookies Terrell Edmunds and Marcus Allen, and Nat Berhe, pending his official re-signing.
That’s 13 or 14 depending on how you want to classify Dangerfield, but the number will likely fluctuate. Last season, they also opened with 14 new faces, if my memory is correct, so at least there is some rough consistency there. That’s about 27 new faces since 2016, factoring in Dangerfield as a repeat, which is nearly half the roster.