The Pittsburgh Steelers used a second-round pick on James Washington at wide receiver before spending a 2019 fifth-round pick in order to add Ryan Switzer in to the mix as well (they also got a sixth-round pick back in that trade). With Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster, the team seems to be so content with the group that they have been using all of them on the field together over 10 percent of the time.
That is not to mention special teams ace Darrius Heyward-Bey, who gets called upon to run a go route or to carry out a blocking assignment here and there, and Justin Hunter, whose inability to participate on special teams and the number of bodies at the position finds him a weekly healthy scratch unless there are injuries that enable him to dress.
And then there is another wide receiver that we hardly ever mention. Eli Rogers, the fourth-year veteran, is two thirds of the way through his mandatory tenure on the Physically Unable to Perform List, eligible to return to practice after the team’s Week Six game.
Rogers suffered a torn ACL in the Steelers’ postseason loss in January. The team elected not to offer him a restricted free agent tender following the injury, but they did re-sign him just before the start of training camp. He had begun taking visits with other teams as well.
While he wasn’t healthy yet, the Steelers were content with the progress that he had made to that point. And Chris Adamski spoke to him earlier this week, the receiver telling him that “his body and knee are in good enough condition that he will be ready to practice…when he’s first eligible to”.
WR Eli Rogers (PUP list, knee) said his body and knee are in good enough condition that he will be ready to practice in 11 days when he’s first eligible to. (He hasn’t definitively been yet told by the Steelers, tho, that he will)
— Chris Adamski (@C_AdamskiTrib) October 4, 2018
The problem is, the team doesn’t really have room for him. That was the issue with Cameron Sutton last year as well. He was put on injured reserve with a hamstring injury, but they took their time before they let him practice, thereby activating the return clock, because they didn’t have an opening for him until an injury created it.
The Steelers have a group of six wide receivers on the roster that they are already content with, and there is no compelling reason for them to carry seven. Switzer already does a lot of the same things that Rogers did, as well.
So when it’s his turn to practice, what will happen? They could wait three weeks before letting him practice, and that would give them another three weeks to decide what to do, through 12 weeks. Perhaps an injury situation would give him an opportunity.
Otherwise, it’s possible that he could either be left on the PUP List, be moved to injured reserve, or possibly even released, whereafter he would be eligible to sign with another team.