One of the most beloved pastimes of Pittsburgh Steelers fans is second-guessing the decisions made by the front office and coaching staff. The latest decision up for debate was the option not to put in a waiver claim for Tuzar Skipper, relying instead upon the services of journeyman Jayrone Elliott.
With T.J. Watt banged up and unsure to play on Monday, and now with Anthony Chickillo on the Commissioner’s Exempt List, the Steelers are somewhat shorthanded at the position now, with Olasunkanmi Adeniyi aligned to start across from Bud Dupree if Watt can’t go. Elliott would be the only backup in that instance.
They could have chosen to bring both players in, and to make room for Skipper, opted to waive Paxton Lynch or to release veteran Donte Moncrief. But with Mason Rudolph just recovering from a concussion, and the wide receiver position still in flux—not to mention James Washington working his way back from a shoulder injury—those moves were not without risks as well.
It ultimately came down to a decision between Elliott and Skipper. The Steelers initially released Elliott following the preseason and opted to retain Skipper, but they would go on to waive him with the hopes of re-signing him to the practice squad. They chose him over Elliott once, so why not twice?
Well, there are some good reasons for doing so. For one thing, Skipper hasn’t been a part of the team throughout the regular season. Elliott has been on and off the roster, but has been here for most of the time, and has even gotten into games.
Even though he joined the team late and Skipper had been with them since May, Elliott’s more recent history on the team paired with his veteran experience make him a more desirable option on a week like this, after losing your top backup in Chickillo and with the possibility of being down a starter for the next game.
That’s not going to sit well with the Skipper fan club, and frankly I think it’s been made pretty clear that I also would’ve liked to have seen the Steelers put a claim on him, but these are the facts of the matter. Entering Monday’s game with an undrafted rookie who hasn’t been a part of the team for a month and a half as your only backup is a less than ideal scenario.