The Pittsburgh Steelers are now into the regular season, following the most unique offseason in the NFL since at least World War II. While it didn’t involve a player lockout, teams still did not have physical access to their players, though they were at least able to meet with them virtually.
Even training camp looked much different from the norm, and a big part of that was the fact that there will be no games along the way to prepare for. Their first football game of the year was to be the opener against the New York Giants.
As the season progresses, however, there will be a number of questions that arise on a daily basis, and we will do our best to try to raise attention to them as they come along, in an effort to both point them out and to create discussion
Questions like, how will the players who are in new positions this year going to perform? Will the rookies be able to contribute significantly? How will Ben Roethlisberger look—and the other quarterbacks as well? Now, we even have questions about whether or not players will be in quarantine.
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: Would the Steelers have cut Daniel McCullers without the new practice squad rules allowing veterans to sign?
This is an important question to consider, not specifically but generally, because it will apply to roster decisions for every other year to follow unless or until the rules change again. The question is, would Daniel McCullers have made the team if the only way they would have been able to keep him would have been to have him on the 53-man roster?
We’ve discussed this every year when debating 53-man roster decisions. Who has to make the team in order to remain, because they don’t have practice squad eligibility? This was the question with Matt Feiler in 2017 because he already served three years on practice squads. If he didn’t make the team that year, he would’ve been out of a job. He did, and in March he’s going to become quite rich.
Now it works the opposite way. Teams may be more willing to cut veterans knowing that if nobody else is interested in them, they can try to keep that player on the practice squad, if they’re willing. Considering we’ve seen veterans participate in the AAF and XFL, it’s not so far-fetched.
Right now, the Steelers have three veterans on their practice squad, including McCullers. In a normal year, the assumption would have been that they would have kept McCullers and attempted to move Carlos Davis to the practice squad in order to have both. Now they can have both going either way (and they also saved cap space. So, would they still have released McCullers under the previous rules, knowing it would mean losing him for good? The fact that they re-signed him to the practice squad means they didn’t want to completely sever ties, after all.