Although it certainly wasn’t on my mind before suddenly reading it on Twitter, it’s a clear reasonable outcome in hindsight that the Pittsburgh Steelers traded third-year quarterback Joshua Dobbs to the Jacksonville Jaguars after losing Nick Foles for at least half of the season.
Obviously, the Steelers are not a team that is ordinarily in the market for making in-season trades to send players away, and they never want to touch the quarterback position, but they were comfortable with where they were in that spot this offseason from the top of the depth chart on down.
With Mason Rudolph staking his claim on the number two spot, and the team clearly committed to him, Dobbs had fallen behind, and it became obvious he would not be the future in their eyes. With him now (or soon to be) off the roster, however, there are some practical matters to take care of.
The Steelers currently effectively have 52 players on their 53-man roster and nine non-exempt players on their practice squad, the ramifications of the Dobbs trade as well as the release of Tuzar Skipper and the activation of Johnny Holton from the practice squad. So what comes next?
Now that there is a clear spot back to the roster, provided that he clears waivers, the Steelers can simply re-sign Skipper back to the 53-man roster. At the very least, they would opt to re-sign him to the practice squad. But what about the other open spot? I know what everyone is thinking.
The college free agent rookie out of Samford played nearly 80 snaps in the preseason this year for the Steelers, almost as many snaps as either Dobbs or Rudolph played. That is an incredible workload for a number four quarterback on anybody’s roster. It’s clear that they were legitimately interested in him.
Not enough to carry him on the 53-man roster straight up over Dobbs, which is what I had argued over the final two weeks of the preseason. But after finding tremendous value in trade for Dobbs, that opens the window to bring him back, assuming that they want to. And I imagine that they would.
The question then becomes whether they will carry him on the 53-man roster or the practice squad. They have for a very long time always had three on the 53-man roster, but we could see them make an exception this year with Hodges, who went unclaimed and unsigned even to another team’s practice squad since the roster cuts were made. It’s not apparent that he had any interest from other teams.
The decision could come down to whom they feel more comfortable being preserved on the practice squad. If they are more concerned about teams eventually giving Skipper a look after leading the league in sacks in the preseason, they could opt to bring him back onto the roster right away and sign Hodges to the practice squad. Based on their history of doing things, however, I would expect it to go the other way.
Assuming these are the two moves that they intend to make, it shouldn’t be long before we find out.