The Pittsburgh Steelers are now into the offseason, following a year in which they had high hopes for Super Bowl success, but ultimately fell short of even reaching the postseason at 8-8. It was a tumultuous season, both on the field and within the roster, and the months to follow figure to have some drama as well, especially in light of the team’s failure to improve upon the year before.
The team made some bold moves over the course of the past year, and some areas of the roster look quite a bit different than they did a year ago, or even at the start of the regular season. Whether due to injuries or otherwise, a lot has transpired, and we’re left to wonder how much more will change prior to September.
How will Ben Roethlisberger’s rehab progress as he winds toward recovery from an elbow injury that cost him almost the entire season? What about some of the key young players, some of whom have already impressed, others still needing quite a bit of growth? Will there be changes to the coaching staff? The front office? Who will they not retain in free agency, and whom might they bring in?
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: Which 10 players are most likely to bear the brunt of the impending policy to reduce offseason rosters to 80 players?
Many may find this subject to be in poor taste, as it means that 10 people—per team—will be losing their jobs. But it’s going to happen whether we talk about it or not. While not yet officially finalized, the expectation is that the NFL will reduce rosters from 90 players to 80 ahead of training camp in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Needless to say, teams will be choosing, roughly, the 10 players with the worst chances of advancing beyond training camp with the team. While players do get paid to participate in training camp, it is comparatively very little compared to what players make even on the practice squad.
The Steelers have two fullbacks on the roster. That seems like a pretty good place to start. J.T. Barrett may not survive this process either as the fifth quarterback, considering the situation. Both the wide receiver and cornerback positions have 10 players, so those are likely to be trimmed.
It’s difficult to pinpoint specific names here considering the limited information, but I would guess somebody like Breon Borders or James Pierre at cornerback, and Anthony Johnson and Quadree Henderson at wide receiver, could be at risk.
The Steelers have exactly 15 offensive linemen, which is the number they prefer. They do have an excess of defensive ends, so a rookie like Josiah Coatney or Calvin Taylor may be exposed. James Lockhart and Leo Lewis may be the most at-risk linebackers.