Now that training camp is underway, and the roster for the offseason is close to finalized—though always fluid—it’s time to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand. Specifically where Steelers players stand individually based on what we have seen happen over the course of the past few months.
A stock evaluation can take a couple of different approaches and I’ll try to make clear my reasonings. In some cases it will be based on more long-term trends, such as an accumulation of offseason activity. In other instances it will be a direct response to something that just happened. So we can see a player more than once over the course of the summer as we move forward.
Player: OL Patrick Morris
Stock Value: Up
This is speculative on my part, but I’m pretty confident that, once the Steelers place Maurkice Pouncey on the Reserve/Suspended List, the corresponding move will be to promote first-year interior offensive lineman Patrick Morris from the practice squad. Morris is the only other player on the roster aside from B.J. Finney with viable experience at the center position.
While the Steelers have groomed Matt Feiler some over the course of the past two offseasons to learn the center position a bit so that he can function there in an emergency, he doesn’t have the training to be trusted to do so as a replacement starter, so they are obviously going to bring in somebody who is a center by trade.
The Steelers have three offensive linemen on the practice squad, including seventh-round pick Derwin Gray, but neither are centers. Both of their backgrounds are primarily tackle, though Gray spent most of his time in the summer working at guard.
Morris was originally signed as somewhat of a priority free agent following the 2018 NFL Draft, and he has spent the past 26 regular season games on the practice squad between last season and this year. Including bye weeks, that’s 28 checks.
But none of them will compare to the nice raise he will make for a couple of games over the course of the next three games (assuming Pouncey’s suspension is not reduced). The minimum salary for being on the 53-man roster is a substantial uptick from that of the practice squad.
Morris definitely put together a better summer, particularly during the preseason, than he did a year ago. I wasn’t convinced in 2018 that he would stick, but he’s more comfortably looked the part in 2019. I don’t think he’ll follow in the Finney and Feiler mold, but he shouldn’t embarrass himself while he’s on the 53.