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: S Jordan Dangerfield
Roster Vulnerability: Low
Role Vulnerability: Medium
Jordan Dangerfield is a player who is likely always going to live upon the fringes of the roster, either on the outside looking in or the inside looking out. He has been in the NFL since 2013 but has only accrued two NFL seasons, in 2016 and 2018. He spent most of 2017 on the practice squad and had time served on the practice squad prior to that as well.
Despite that fact, he is a player that the Steelers have seemed to like for quite a while. After all, they have continued to bring him back every year since 2014. But that doesn’t mean he can’t be expendable if the team drafts a safety and they don’t have room for him on the roster.
While the team did release Morgan Burnett, and in fact also no longer have Nat Berhe from last season’s roster, they still have four safeties in Sean Davis, Terrell Edmunds, Marcus Allen, and Dangerfield.
Of course, they are seemingly interested in carrying more safeties these days than they used to. And given that they only have four safeties on the roster right now, it’s frankly likely that they will draft one, and possible that they even draft two, even though they drafted two last year.
The wildcard that could play into this is Mark Barron, who was signed as a linebacker but who could assume some dimebacker duties as well, which could limit the need for additional safeties and could also part with Dangerfield’s specialized roles he has had in the past.
Ultimately, based on how the offseason has gone so far, I think he has a greater than average chance of staying put on the roster, considering that they haven’t shown much interest in the safety market. If they were concerned with both their depth and the players they currently had, they probably would have brought a veteran in. Evidently Dangerfield is that veteran.