Building the 53-man roster is a never-ending process, which continually evolves throughout the season as needs emerge and opportunities become available, but there needs to be a starting point. The Pittsburgh Steelers reached their initial starting point just minutes ago, but that means 37 people who spent time with them are currently out of a job (or 36, actually, since quarterback Joshua Dobbs was placed on the Reserve/Injured List).
Fifteen years into the process, head coach Mike Tomlin recently talked about how it never gets any easier to have those conversations when you have to inform a man that they are not going to have a job, and, worse still, that their dream may well be over, unless you can find another opportunity elsewhere.
Sure, many players the Steelers just cut or waived will be back on the 16-man practice squad, but many will never have another job in the NFL again. And Tomlin, to use one of his own phrases, does not seek comfort for himself in making these decisions.
“I don’t want it to get easier, to be honest with you”, he told reporters shortly before 4 p.m. “I don’t want to get desensitized to it. These are men on the other side of these decisions. That never leaves the front of my mind”.
Among the notable, though not unexpected cuts, was Quincy Roche, the rookie sixth-round outside linebacker, who is the only one of nine draft picks this year who did not make the initial 53-man roster. The Steelers did indeed opt to go with only four outside linebackers, with first-year college free agent Jamir Jones making it as the number four. Cassius Marsh was also released.
Offensive linemen Rashaad Coward and B.J. Finney, a pair of veterans, were also let go, with J.C. Hassenauer and Joe Haeg both capable of playing as interior reserves. They currently only have eight offensive linemen on the 53, but it remains to be seen if it will remain that way. Haeg’s versatility to play both inside and outside may persuade them to stick with eight, as they have in the past.
Another interesting quirk of the roster, in a bad way, is the fact that they only have eight defensive backs, currently, after cutting Arthur Maulet, among others, who was expected to make the 53-man roster. He was injured late in the proceedings, but was presumed by those on the outside to be safe after Antoine Brooks Jr. was previously waived injured.
It is extremely likely that this is not the 53-man roster the Steelers enter the regular season with, as is basically always the case. One or two further changes seems inevitable when you consider that 31 other teams are each also putting dozens of players on the market.