Now that training camp has begun, following yet another year of disappointment, a fourth consecutive season with no postseason victories, it’s time to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand. Specifically where Steelers players stand individually based on what we are seeing over the course of the offseason as it plays out. We will also be reviewing players based on their previous season and their prospects for the future. A stock evaluation can take a couple of different approaches and I’ll try to make clear my reasoning. In some cases, it will be based on more long-term trends. 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 season as we move forward.
Player: DB Antoine Brooks Jr.
Stock Value: Sold
Reasoning: In a somewhat surprise move, the Steelers announced as part of their mandatory roster cuts that 2020 sixth-round draft pick Antoine Brooks Jr., who was in contention to be the nickel defender this season, was waived with an injury designation.
In a vacuum, it should probably never be too surprising when a young and inexperienced former sixth-round draft pick is waived in training camp with an injury designation. It’s not like Antonio Brown being let go in his prime or anything. Antoine Brooks Jr. has yet to ‘achieve’ anything in his career.
But it appeared that he may have been on the threshold of doing so. The second-year defensive back was in contention to be the Steelers’ nickel slot defender this year, and he appeared to have debuted well in that role in the Hall of Fame game after spending the spring working with the first-team defense.
But he was injured in that game, and apparently never fully recovered, in spite of the fact that he briefly returned to practice last week. It is apparent that the injury was more serious than was initially believed, because even if he did not win the nickel job, he still felt like a roster lock.
This does not mean the end for Brooks in Pittsburgh, though. For starters, it is highly unlikely that any team is going to claim an injured, inexperienced late-round defensive back off waivers, so once Brooks clears waivers, he will revert to the team’s Reserve/Injured List.
It gets complicated, though not impossible from there that he could make it back to the active roster this season. Once on the Reserve/Injured List, he would have to reach an injured settlement with the team, during which the two parties arrive at a number of weeks his injury is projected to take to recover, and receive compensation commensurate with that length of time.
Only after that period of time passes could he then sign to another team; if the Steelers want to re-sign him, however, they would have to wait an additional six weeks. We did see this, albeit on the practice squad, last year, when wide receiver Anthony Johnson was waived injured on August 27. The Steelers signed him to the practice squad on October 26, and he remained there the rest of the year, and is still on the 80-man roster.