2019 South Side Questions: Why Didn’t Steelers Re-Sign Tuzar Skipper Earlier?

The Pittsburgh Steelers are now into the regular season, in which they entered with big aspirations, in spite of a tumultuous start to the offseason. Significant players were lost via trade and free agency, players who have helped shape the course of the franchise in recent years. We even now sit here without Ben Roethlisberger after just two games.

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 have new starters. And quarterback was suddenly added to that list.

How will the season progress without Roethlisberger, behind Mason Rudolph? How will the young players advance into their expected roles? Will the new coaches be up to the task? Who is looking good in games? 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: Why didn’t the Steelers re-sign Tuzar Skipper earlier?

The Steelers had the opportunity several weeks ago to claim Tuzar Skipper off waivers when they put Anthony Chickillo on the Commissioner’s Exempt List. They chose, instead, to re-sign Jayrone Elliott for the 7000th time. Skipper cleared waivers, signed to the New York Giants’ practice squad, and sat there until the Steelers signed him from there yesterday.

So why the roundabout journey? This was nearly a month ago. Elliott has been signed and released twice since then. He was released on the 16th, just three days ago, leaving the Steelers with four outside linebackers—and three healthy, as Olasunkanmi Adeniyi is dealing with an injury—they brought back Skipper after putting defensive end L.T. Walton on the Reserve/Injured List.

So now they have five outside linebackers and five defensive linemen, plus five inside linebackers, six cornerbacks, and four safeties. This is an unusual roster combination, though that’s not the point—the numbers would be the same whether they poached Skipper or re-signed Elliott.

Is it possible that Elliott didn’t want to re-sign with the Steelers? Let’s call it unlikely. Guys right now are just looking for a job, and at least he’s played here before. Nobody else is offering him a job.

I do wonder what this means for Sutton Smith, who has been signed to the practice squad and released in the time between Skipper was waived by the Giants and then signed by the Steelers yesterday. Smith was released for the second time just the day before adding Skipper, and two days before they released Elliott, so they decided to go with Skipper over both.

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