Expect Steelers 2019 53-Man Roster To Again Include Players Not Currently On Team

The Pittsburgh Steelers wrapped up their annual mandatory minicamp last week and that set of 2019 practices included something we haven’t witnessed in quite a while as every active player under contract was present and accounted for and practiced in some capacity. Not only was that great to hear, the same goes for the team getting through their entire set offseason practices without a player suffering any serious injury. In fact, we could potentially now be on track to see the Steelers open their annual training camp at Saint Vince College in Latrobe five weeks from today without a single-player having to be placed on the team’s Active/PUP list.

Good health and full roster participation aside so far this offseason, Steelers recent history tells us that a few players could still be signed to the team between now and the start of the regular season with a few ultimately being part of the 53-man unit that will play the New England Patriots in Week 1.

As originally noted by myself a year ago, dating back to 2012, the Steelers have made it a habit of signing or acquiring players via a trade that didn’t take part in their offseasion practices. Not only that, since 2012 the Steelers have had at least two players who weren’t under contract during the offseason practices that ultimately were on their Week 1 53-man roster. In fact, just last season, there were two such players in tackle Zach Banner and wide receiver Ryan Switzer.

Just prior to their second preseason game last year, the Steelers signed Banner off the streets and the former fourth-round draft pick of the Indianapolis Colts went on to not only make the Week 1 53-man roster, he stayed on it all season despite not playing a single snap. As for Switzer, the Steelers acquired him from the Oakland Raiders via a trade just prior to the team’s fourth and final preseason game. Switzer not only made the Steelers Week 1 53-man roster last year, he went on to play just over 300 offensive snaps in total and was the team’s primary kickoff and punt returner all season.

After the Steelers had wrapped up their 2017 offseason practices, the team went on to add three more players that ultimately made their 53-man roster in tight end Vance McDonald, cornerback Joe Haden and safety J.J. Wilcox. McDonald and Wilcox had both been acquired via very late offseason trades while Haden was quickly signed off the streets right ahead of the Steelers 2017 preseason finale after he had been dumped by the Cleveland Browns. McDonald and Haden are obviously both still on the team and both are starters.

In 2016, the Steelers added backup quarterback Zach Mettenberger and cornerback Justin Gilbert right before their Week 1 game and both stuck on the roster all season. Mettenberger was a waiver claim that year while Gilbert was acquired via a trade with the Browns.

Long after the Steelers 2015 offseason practices had concluded the team went on to add several players to their roster that ultimately went on to make the initial 53-man squad. Those players, seven in total, were cornerback Brandon Boykin, center/guard Doug Legursky, quarterback Michael Vick, kicker Josh Scobee, cornerback Ross Cockrell, running back Jordan Todman and defensive end Caushaud Lyons. Boykin and Scobee were both traded for while Lyons was claimed off waivers that year from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. We’re unlikely to see that large of group ever again.

As for years 2012 through 2014 and the players added to the Steelers roster after offseason practices had ended that ultimately made the 53-man roster in that particular year, they are all listed in the table below.

Obviously, injuries during this year’s Steelers training camp and preseason could quickly result in the team having to go outside of their current players under contract to find help. In fact, we’re sure to see some injury-related transactions once training camp gets underway in late July and most of those will likely involve young, bottom-of-the-roster players being waived injured and then replaced by other young and inexperienced players.

The normal summer attrition aside, chances are probably good that the Steelers will eventually add another cheap tight end to their roster in the coming weeks and months to provide more competition to the bottom of that position’s depth chart. The team attempted to claim tight end Jordan Leggett off waivers from the New York Jets several weeks ago and that was a clear sign the team is looking for help at that position. Right before the 2019 regular season starts, there might be a young tight end that the Steelers can’t live without become available via a trade or final round of NFL roster cuts.

The Steelers might also still be in the market for a young and cheap safety and outside linebacker with some sort of experience at some point during the summer and especially if they suffer an injury to one of the several already expected to make this year’s 53-man roster. Those two position groups are relatively ripe for additions before training camp even gets underway. Would they consider re-signing former safety Nat Berhe at some point? We’ll see.

This same last year, not many of you reading this post would have imagined that a tackle and wide receiver would have ultimately been acquired and that both would have gone on to make the 53-man roster. That indeed happened and I bet we see the Steelers long-standing trend outlined in this post continue on at some point in the next 10 weeks. Any guesses as to which players it will be this year?

Players On Steelers Week 1 53-Man Roster Not With Team During Offseason Practices (2012-2017)
Player Date Acquired How Acquired
Zach Banner 12-Aug Signed
Ryan Switzer 27-Aug Trade
Player Date Acquired How Acquired
Vance McDonald 29-Aug Trade
Joe Haden 30-Aug Signed
J.J. Wilcox 3-Sep Trade
Player Date Acquired How Acquired
Zach Mettenberger 31-Aug Claimed off waivers
Justin Gilbert 3-Sep Trade
Player Date Acquired How Acquired
Brandon Boykin 1-Aug Trade
Doug Legursky 25-Aug Signed
Michael Vick 25-Aug Signed
Josh Scobee 31-Aug Trade
Ross Cockrell 5-Sep Signed
Jordan Todman 6-Sep Signed
Caushaud Lyons 6-Sep Claimed off waivers
Player Date Acquired How Acquired
Brett Keisel 19-Aug Signed
B.W. Webb 29-Aug Claimed off waivers
Player Date Acquired How Acquired
Michael Palmer 8-Aug Claimed off waivers
Felix Jones 23-Aug Trade
Cody Wallace 1-Sep Signed
Zoltan Mesko 2-Sep Signed
Antwon Blake 2-Sep Claimed off waivers
Player Date Acquired How Acquired
Max Starks 17-Jul Signed
DeMarcus Van Dyke 7-Sep Signed
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