Now that the 2020 offseason has begun, following a second consecutive season in which they failed to even reach the playoffs, 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 season, and with notice to anything that happens going forward.
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: RB Trey Edmunds
Stock Value: Down
As with the past two seasons, Trey Edmunds didn’t have much of a chance of making the 53-man roster even heading into the year. He still managed to make it onto the team in each of the past two years, primarily playing on special teams. This year, however, they are already returning four running backs from last season’s roster. And now they’ve drafted another.
The Steelers appreciate what Edmunds can do on special teams, but they have already shown multiple times that it’s not significant enough unless they have injuries at the position. Already ahead of him in a line for a spot on the 53-man roster are James Conner, Benny Snell, Jaylen Samuels, Kerrith Whyte, and now rookie Anthony McFarland. It would be nothing short of an upset if he outright beats two or three of these players, depending on how many running backs they keep, for a spot on the team.
At one point last season, Pittsburgh even resorting to giving him some snaps at fullback after Roosevelt Nix was injured. Whyte, a rookie they had just signed from another team’s practice squad, was being trusted with carries and receptions ahead of him.
He may be the sort of blue collar, no-nonsense worker that a head coach loves, but there are still roster logistics to consider, and part of that is about supply and demand. You can only allocate so many roster spots to one position, and you have to decide who gets those spots.
Conner is obviously not going anywhere. Snell, Mike Tomlin loves, and he also plays special teams. You know McFarland as a midround rookie is obviously going to make the team. Whyte, in theory, could offer kick return ability. Samuels is liked by the coaching staff more than by fans and is their primary receiving target out of the backfield—and also plays special teams.
There is, however, the possibility of him sticking to the practice squad, which is where he’s been for the past two years when he wasn’t on the 53-man roster. With two extra roster spots, it’s easier to do, as well. Last season, even when they had five running backs on the 53-man roster, they still had two more on the practice squad in Ralph Webb and Darrin Hall.