Now that the regular season 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 have seen and are seeing over the course of the offseason and the regular season 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. Because of this, we can and will see a player more than once over the course of the season as we move forward.
Player: RB Jaylen Samuels
Stock Value: Sold
Reasoning: The Steelers announced on Wednesday that they have released veteran running back Jaylen Samuels from the practice squad.
It was met with some minor elation on Wednesday afternoon that the Steelers announced the activation of second-year running back Anthony McFarland from the Reserve/Injured List to the 53-man roster—and in a corresponding move, that they had released running back Jaylen Samuels from the practice squad.
Originally drafted by Pittsburgh in the fifth round in 2018, Samuels had been a member of the 53-man roster in each of his first three seasons, though his role diminished each year, and he did not play much in 2020.
After drafting Najee Harris in the first round and signing Kalen Ballage in free agency this offseason, however, even in spite of the fact that they allowed James Conner to walk in free agency, the writing seemed to be on the wall for Samuels, that his time had run out.
Indeed, it was Harris, Benny Snell, McFarland, and Ballage who made up the 53-man roster this year, a running back stable now made whole again with the recent activation. Samuels, however, did cling to the practice squad after having a solid training camp and preseason.
The Steelers do still have Trey Edmunds on the practice squad as a fifth running back, although they more recently listed him as a fullback on the depth chart this summer, and they have used him there in-game a few times. But the point is, they chose to let Samuels go rather than Edmunds.
And they let a running back go because they needed another defensive lineman after Carlos Davis, in a related move, was placed on the Reserve/Injured List. So they swapped a defensive lineman for a running back on the 53-man roster, and vice versa on the practice squad. With that said, I wouldn’t expect them to re-sign him once the defensive line gets healthy unless injuries mount at running back.