If it wasn’t already clear that the Pittsburgh Steelers (and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger) genuinely value the contributions that fifth-year wide receiver Eli Rogers can bring to the table, then perhaps the fact that they signed him to a two-year contract should suffice.
Rogers, who spent the majority of the 2018 season on the Physically Unable to Perform List, had his contract inf 2018 for the veteran minimum ‘toll’, which is to say that it replicated for 2019, meaning he would be under contract this year for the same salary as a year ago.
The Steelers could have left him at that, and Rogers wouldn’t have been able to do anything about it, but they chose to give him a new contract in the post-Antonio Brown landscape because of the role that they see him potentially playing. And for that, he is genuinely and humbly grateful.
“It means everything. I cam into the league undrafted. It just means everything”, he said of signing the new contract. “I’m thankful for this opportunity and I’m going to take full advantage of it”. He also had this to say about his health status after returning from an ACL tear: “I’m ready to go. Vegan. I’m healthy. Very healthy. Mentally healthy. My body feels great and I’m ready to put some real work in this offseason to lay a great foundation out here this season”.
Rogers has never served in a capacity larger than the number three wide receiver, and he doesn’t figure to do anything more than that this season, at best, but most teams predominantly play with three wide receivers as it is.
With 78 receptions for 822 yards and three touchdowns for his career, it’s clear that his contributions have been relatively modest, but he has often made the most of his opportunities, especially in 2016, which was his first season on the roster.
As a college free agent in 2015, he suffered a season-ending injury early in training camp, but the team liked what they saw in him enough to keep him on injured reserve all year. He opened 2016 as their starting slot receiver and caught 48 passes for 594 yards and three touchdowns.
The problem was that they drafted JuJu Smith-Schuster the following year, who with Brown and Martavis Bryant took most of the playing time. With two of them now gone, however, and Randy Fichtner showing a proclivity for four-receiver sets, he should have more opportunities in this offense—even if he feels he has yet to do something of significance in this league.
“I haven’t done anything yet. I feel like I haven’t really. Like I said, I’m blessed for this opportunity, but I don’t feel like I’ve done anything”, he said. “I picture it in my brain—to that magnitude [of where I want to be]. So I’m still ready to explore and get down to it“.
That’s never a bad attitude to have when you’re still in the grind. Always be hungry for more.