The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2021 season is over, already eliminated from the postseason after suffering a 42-21 loss at the hands of Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs. They just barely made the postseason with a 9-7-1 record and a little help from their friends.
This is an offseason of major change, with the retirement of Ben Roethlisberger, the possible retirement of general manager Kevin Colbert, and the decisions about the futures of many important players to be made, such as Joe Haden, Stephon Tuitt, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and others—some already decided, some not.
Aside from exploring their options at the quarterback position, the top global priority, once again, figures to be addressing the offensive line, which they did not do quite adequately enough a year ago. Dan Moore Jr. looks like he may have a future as a full-time starter, but Kendrick Green was clearly not ready. Chukwuma Okorafor was re-signed, but Trai Turner was not. James Daniels and Mason Cole were added in free agency.
These are the sorts of topics among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked. There is rarely a concrete answer, but this is your venue for exploring the topics we present through all their uncertainty.
Question: Who will the Steelers release in order to finalize their undrafted free agent signings?
Coming into the 2022 NFL Draft, the Steelers had 75 players on their 90-man roster. They drafted seven players, then signed veteran free agent Damontae Kazee, and their undrafted free agent signing class was purported to be 10 players—they’re already listed on the team’s roster, in fact.
But that gives them 93 players, which is three more than is allowed. Three of the contracts are still not yet official, for one reason or another, but the end result either way is that they must make three termination transactions before they can be signed. So who are the likely terminations?
It’s easiest to start with position-group numbers. There is an abundance at, for example, wide receiver and cornerback now. Inside linebacker is another deep position, as is the defensive line, and to a slightly lesser extent, the offensive line, but it’s easier to make use of bodies in the trenches.
So let’s look at our likely options, first at wide receiver. Those toward the bottom of the roster would be the inexperienced practice squad carryovers, with Tyler Vaughns and Rico Bussey. They have 11 total wide receivers right now, so Vaughns would be my guess as one of the three deletions.
Then we turn to the defensive backfield, where they added Chris Steele and Bryce Watts as college free agents. They now have 11 cornerbacks. Isaiah Johnson and Linden Stephens are likely at the bottom of the totem pole. My guess would be Johnson.
The third deletion is a tougher prediction. Inside linebacker Tegray Scales could be an option. Edge Delontae Scott or an interior lineman like Nate Gilliam, or defensive lineman Daniel Archibong, would be other reasonable guesses. With a rookie minicamp tryout invitation to a punter, Cameron Nizialek, their second punter on the roster, could be an option, as well.