2019 Offseason Questions: Will A Player Not From The 90 Will Make The Initial 53?

The Pittsburgh Steelers are now in Latrobe at Saint Vincent College, where they have held their training camp sessions since 1966. While the vast majority of the legwork of building the 90-man roster is done, there is always some fine tinkering to do. Now it’s time to figure out who is worthy of a roster spot, and what their role will be.

The team made some bold moves this offseason and in some areas of the roster look quite a bit different than they did a year ago. That would especially be the case at wide receiver and inside linebacker, where they’re bound to have new starters.

How will those position groups sort themselves out? How will the young players advance into their expected roles? Will the new coaches be up to the task? Who is looking good in practice? Who is sitting out due to injury?

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: Will the Steelers acquire a player through trade, waivers, or street free agency to add to their 53-man roster before the start of the regular season?

It’s been fairly common in recent years to see the Steelers add a player from outside of the 90-man roster within the final couple of weeks of the offseason who goes on to make the 53-man roster. I’m not so sure it happens this year, but if it does, it’s almost guaranteed to come at tight end.

You’ve already seen some of the names of veteran tight ends who have been released, and perhaps more have been released since I wrote this (admittedly in the middle of the evening yesterday). The Steelers could either put in a waiver claim or hope that they clear waivers and attempt to sign them.

Outside of tight end, I don’t know that I realistically see the team adding to any other position. They seem to be sufficiently deep everywhere relative to the number of roster spots each is likely to take up—for example, they are unlikely to keep more than four safeties, unless for example Justin Layne is put on injured reserve, which is unlikely as far as we know right now.

So it really comes down, primarily, to how they feel about the combination of Xavier Grimble and rookie Zach Gentry as their depth tight ends behind Vance McDonald. Grimble can block. Gentry can do a little catching, and I think he’s a little more ahead in the blocking department than many feared.

Personally, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the 53-man roster is made up entirely of players from the 91 they had on the roster entering the final preseason game, but we’ll see what happens.

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