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: WR Eli Rogers
Roster Vulnerability: Medium
Role Vulnerability: High
There are definitely less compelling stories in the NFL than Eli Rogers, a former college free agent who spent his rookie season on injured reserve only to find success the following year. He came back from a torn ACL last year to become a contributor late last season as well.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s safe for another year with the team, and it might depend on if the Steelers decide to carry six wide receivers—which, admittedly, they often do. But the fact that Ryan Switzer is the return man now makes him all the more vulnerable, especially if the latter is the preferred backup slot receiver.
The current top of the depth chart consists of JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Washington, and free agent signing Donte Moncrief. We can fairly say that those three are locks, set in stone for the 53-man roster and most likely the three that will spent the majority of the time on the field. Switzer is pretty safe as well because of his special teams role.
That puts the wide receiver depth chart at at least four deep as we head into the draft, and it’s pretty likely that the Steelers add a pretty significant piece at the position. In such a scenario, that would push Rogers down to the sixth spot in terms of likelihood to remain on the roster at the wide receiver position.
Does that spell the end for him? Certainly not. While cheap, the Steelers did extend him an offer this offseason for two years. They obviously and clearly like him, and with the uncertainty facing the position this offseason, the reality is that he is actually the longest-tenured player currently in that room.
In other words, this isn’t a bad year to go overboard with depth at wide receiver. It’s also worth noting that he isn’t unfamiliar to spending time on the 53-man roster as a healthy scratch, either, which could be his future for much of 2019.