The Pittsburgh Steelers well underway with the offseason workouts at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, also referred to as the South Side Facility. We are already into the heart of the offseason, where hope springs eternal following a few months of pretty significant changes, in terms of both departures and arrivals.
How are the rookies performing? What about the players that the team signed in free agency? Who is missing time with injuries, and when are they going to be back? What are the coaches saying about what they are going to do this season that might be different from how it was a year ago?
These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.
Question: Which wide receiver from last year’s 53-man roster who is still with the team is least likely to be on the roster in 2019?
I think it can be argued that there are four locks at the wide receiver position to make the roster right now. Of course JuJu Smith-Schuster is going to make it. the Steelers are not going to give up on second-round pick James Washington in his second offseason. And rookie Diontae Johnson and free agent Donte Moncrief are safe bets as well.
Assuming that the Steelers do carry six wide receivers, Eli Rogers and Ryan Switzer should theoretically be regarded as favored to repeat as returnees from last season, but I would hesitate to call either of them locks, especially if Johnson is able to show return ability.
Absent the possibility of only carrying five wide receivers, though, there are some names who have gotten some attention, namely last year’s two practice squad players, Tevin Jones and Trey Griffey. Veteran CFL player Diontae Spencer has gotten some attention this spring as well.
While Johnson has primarily been an outside player, there is no reason to believe that the Steelers should be shorthanded in the slot if either Switzer or Rogers were to fail to make the team. Smith-Schuster, after all, has primarily played out of the slot so far in his first two seasons, regardless of whether or not he is the number one target this year.
Rogers spent most of last season on the Physically Unable to Perform list, but he played a pretty good amount once he was activated, and the Steelers re-signed him to a two-year contract this offseason. They value his route-running, but they like similar things about Switzer, and they can largely be seen as redundant. Rogers even lined up in the backfield once, though he didn’t carry the ball.