This might not be the most riveting news in the land right now—and it’s actually not even quite ‘in the land’ as it is north of the border—but there is some roster movement of late for one former member of the Pittsburgh Steelers, that being wide receiver Eli Rogers, who spent a few years with the team not long ago.
Having been out of the NFL since the end of the 2018 season, the 28-year-old has just signed on to become the newest member of the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League. It is not uncommon for former NFL players to take their talents up north in the hopes of resuming or continuing their careers.
This is also not Rogers’ first dalliance with an alternative league. He actually participated in the XFL last year as a member of the DC Defenders, where he did have some success. He caught 19 passes for 169 yards there, which was the second-most on the team.
Originally signed by the Steelers as a college free agent out of Louisville in 2015, Rogers drew a lot of attention during his rookie offseason, but he suffered a foot injury shortly after the pads came on in training camp, just after he had begun getting some work with the first-team offense.
In spite of his status as basically a nobody, the team opted to preserve him on the Reserve/Injured List for the entire year, rather than working out an injury settlement, a signal that they liked what they saw of him and saw a potential future there.
The following season, he made the 53-man roster and before their primary slot receiver, catching 48 passes for 594 yards and three touchdowns. The drafting of JuJu Smith-Schuster in the second round in 2017 screwed up his prospects, however, and his numbers dropped.
He missed most of the 2018 season due to a knee injury, but was brought back up to the 53-man roster from injured reserve at the end of the season, where he caught 12 passes for 79 yards, re-establishing a rapport with Ben Roethlisberger.
Rogers was arguably a surprise roster cut in 2019, losing out on a roster spot to Ryan Switzer. He would not find another opportunity elsewhere, though I believe that he did receive at least one or two workouts that ultimately did not lead to a deal.
In addition to being a wide receiver, Rogers is also capable of doing punt returns. That will give him just a bit more leverage as he seeks to make a squad up north. I hope I can speak for all of us when I say that we wish him well.