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 enter the labor market for just 32 NFL teams, each of whom field 63 players per season, plus those on injured reserve and other non-active lists.
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: Trey Edmunds
Roster Vulnerability: High
Role Vulnerability: High
As nice as it is for Terrell Edmunds to have his older brother on the roster with him, the reality is that there is a pretty strong chance that Trey Edmunds will not be returning to the 53-man roster with the Steelers in 2019.
Originally signed by the New Orleans Saints as a college free agent in 2017, Edmunds spent his rookie season with that team, but failed to make the roster in 2018. The Steelers signed him to their practice squad prior to the start of the regular season.
He remained there until the final month of the season, at which point starting running back James Conner suffered a high ankle sprain. The team knew that he would miss a few weeks, so they promoted Edmunds from the practice squad to give them three running backs to work with.
Though he did not play on offense, he was active on special teams, and even dressed for special teams purposes over third-string running back Stevan Ridley in the regular season finale even though Conner had returned at that point.
With Ridley having not been re-signed, however, the Steelers are very actively exploring their options at the running back position in the 2019 NFL Draft, and it would be surprising at this point if they did not just a draft pick there for the third consecutive year after previously selecting Conner in the third round in 2017 and Jaylen Samuels in the fifth a year ago.
Any meaningful addition to the running back room will put Edmunds’ post on the team in jeopardy, but they have in the past kept four running backs, usually provided that that fourth running back is a quality player on special teams, which he can be.
Even if he fails to make the 53-man roster, however, he can still return to the practice squad after spending 13 weeks there a year ago, as he still has plenty of eligibility. And that way, the two brothers can remain together for another year.