The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2020 season is now in the books. It ended in spectacular fashion — though the wrong kind of spectacular — in a dismal postseason defeat at the hands of the Cleveland Browns, sending them into an early offseason mode after going 12-4 in the regular season and winning the AFC North for the first time in three years.
Since then, they have lost several players in free agency who were key members of the offense and defense. Multiple starters retired, as well. They made few notable additions in free agency, and are banking on contributions on offense from their rookies, as well as perhaps a last ride for Ben Roethlisberger.
The only thing facing them now as they head into 2021 is more questions. Right now, they lack answers. They know that they have Roethlisberger for one more year, but was that even the right decision? How successful can Najee Harris be behind a questionable offensive line? What kind of changes can Matt Canada and Adrian Klemm bring to the offense? And how can the defense retain the status quo with the losses of Bud Dupree, Steven Nelson, and Mike Hilton?
These are the sorts of questions we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football is a year-round pastime and there are always questions to ask, though there is rarely a concrete answer. This is your venue for exploring the topics we present through all of their uncertainty.
Question: Will Antoine Brooks Jr. make it back to the 53-man roster?
While the Steelers waived Antoine Brooks Jr. recently with an injury designation, as we have recently laid out, that does not mean that his journey has ended with the Steelers. For starters, he will revert to the Reserve/Injured List, so he will still be getting paid.
But we’ve already explained how it would be possible for Brooks to end up back on the team. The question is, is it realistic? Was the Steelers’ decision to waive him a signal that they were prepared to move on, and not bring him back?
Given that he is off the roster now, that also increases the chances of the Steelers trying to sign a veteran free agent safety, or another defensive back who can play in the slot, something which may have already been on their to-do list.
Speaking personally, I was starting to feel pretty good about Brooks and his ability to contribute to this defense following the first preseason game. I thought there was the potential for him to really make the slot role his, even if he had a lot left to prove.
But the Steelers could have cut a player from another position, even factoring in the need for players to contribute in the finale. In the past, the roster would be down to 75 at this point anyway. Why, for example, keep two long snappers? Does T.J. Carter still need to be on the roster while Isaiah Buggs and Henry Mondeaux are still competing for a roster spot? These decisions might signal that they don’t intend, at least this season, to bring him back to the 53-man roster.