Now that the 2021 season is over, bringing yet another year of disappointment, a fifth 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 season and into 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. Because of this, we can and will see a player more than once over the course of the season as we move forward.
Player: WR Cody White
Stock Value: Down
Reasoning: The Steelers’ decision to claim wide receiver Miles Boykin off waivers will make it much more difficult for a player like Cody White to lay claim to a spot on 53-man roster outright later this summer.
Cody White dressed for 15 games last year. He probably would have only dressed for two or three at most had JuJu Smith-Schuster not gotten injured. He was not signed to the 53-man roster until October 9, spending some time active as a practice squad elevation option prior to that while the Steelers were dealing with injuries at the position.
And in spite of the fact that he dressed for 15 games last year, he only played 77 snaps on offense. 28 of those snaps came in the regular-season loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, a game in which the team was losing so bad that Ben Roethlisberger was pulled at the end.
And he only played a little more than 100 snaps on special teams, so it’s not as though he made himself indispensable there. If you want to take the special-teams route of making yourself uncuttable, you better be playing more than 300 snaps.
The problem for a player like White is the fact that Miles Boykin is basically a better version of him. They’re both tall with some size. Boykin is a more than willing blocker who has no problem doing the nitty-gritty work that isn’t often asked of from starters.
The biggest obstacle in Boykin’s path is the fact that he is due to make over $2 million this year, which is the reason the Ravens cut him right now. But the Steelers have a history of being willing to pay players that they acquire more.
Chris Wormley, like Boykin, was acquired in 2020 entering the final year of his rookie contract, which had a boosted salary due to the Proven Performance Escalator. The only difference in the situation is that the Steelers traded for Wormley, while they only claimed Boykin off waivers, so they have less invested in him.
Still, sitting here today, there is really no compelling reason to think there is much chance of White making the 53-man roster and Boykin not. It’s more likely that both would make it, but with Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, Boykin, and Gunner Olszewski, plus undoubtedly a rookie draft pick, and the potential for one of the two veterans from the practice squad last year, Anthony Miller and Steven Sims, to make the team, White should probably be hoping to make the practice squad, realistically. The release and claim of Boykin was a bit of a curveball.