The Pittsburgh Steelers start their annual OTA sessions on Tuesday and while the team is not yet at 90 players under contract, they figure to get there in the next 24 hours or so. The Steelers’ current active offseason roster includes several midrange-earning players with several of those being carryovers from the 2022 team. With OTAs set to get underway, it’s a great time to look at a few of those 2022 midrange earning carryovers who probably aren’t guaranteed 53-man roster spots come early September.
To make this particular offseason list, a player must have been on the Steelers’ 2022 roster. Additionally, any player on this list must be poised to earn a base salary of $2 million or more in 2023. That’s it as far as qualifiers go. Based on those qualifiers, I have a come up with a list of five players that I don’t believe should be considered 53-man roster locks later this summer and why.
CB Levi Wallace – 2023 Base Salary: $4,000,000 – Of the five players on this list, Wallace is the highest earner when it comes to 2023 base salaries. He’s also probably the safest of the five, especially with the Steelers already having cut two veteran cornerbacks this offseason in Arthur Maulet and Ahkello Witherspoon. Even so, the Steelers did add two cornerbacks during the draft this year in Joey Porter Jr. and Cory Trice Jr. and both can play outside. Veteran cornerback Patrick Peterson was signed at the start of free agency as well. If that weren’t enough, the Steelers also signed a veteran slot cornerback this offseason in Chandon Sullivan, and let’s not forget that they re-signed cornerback James Pierre, a special teams-centric player, a few months ago. Wallace isn’t necessarily known for his special teams play so that’s another quasi-strike against him.
Yes, he seems safe on paper but stranger things have happened before.
DT Montravius Adams – 2023 Base Salary: $2,500,000 – The Steelers really made a concerted effort to add to their defensive line room this offseason. That effort included the additions of Armon Watts and Breiden Fehoko as free agents and Keeanu Benton as a second-round draft selection. All three can play inside the tackles and that could spell trouble later this summer for Adams, who played all of 281 defensive snaps in 2022 for the Steelers. Adams has played in 22 games for the Steelers since joining the team late in the 2021 season. He’s not guaranteed to play a 23rd at this point of the offseason, especially with him scheduled to earn $2.5 million in 2023.
G Kevin Dotson – 2023 Base Salary: $2,743,000 – The Steelers beefed up their offensive line this offseason and those actions were very much needed. A few of the new additions to the Steelers offensive line room came via free agency in the forms of guards Isaac Seumalo and Nate Herbig. Additionally, the Steelers added an uber-versatile offensive lineman in the seventh round of the 2023 NFL Draft in Spencer Anderson. While Dotson was the Steelers starting left guard for all of 2022, he’ll likely need to earn a backup interior spot this summer. His increase in pay in 2023 via the Proven Performance Escalator could wind up working against him this summer if he doesn’t have a solid training camp and preseason.
WR Gunner Olszewski – 2023 Base Salary: $2,000,000 – When Olszewski signed with the Steelers in March 2022, the initial thought was he would become a big boost in the return game and an occasionally help on offense. The special teams boost never materialized in 2022, mainly due to his ball security first and foremost. When it came to Olszewski’s offensive contributions in 2022, he touched the football just 13 times for 92 total yards in 216 total snaps played. Olszewski will need to show this summer that he can be a top NFL returner. If he doesn’t, he’s sure to not make the 53-man roster come early September.
S Miles Killebrew – 2023 Base Salary: $2,000,000 – While Killebrew is officially listed as a safety, his role with the Steelers since joining the team has really been special teams ace. The Steelers’ safety room did go through changes this offseason, however, with Terrell Edmunds leaving via free agency and fellow veteran Keanu Neal being added. Additionally, the Steelers signed another special teams ace this offseason in inside linebacker Tanner Muse, who did play some safety in college. Killebrew has played all of 646 total defensive snaps since entering the NFL and that speaks volumes.
He will once again need to make the Steelers 53-man roster in 2023 as a special teams ace. At 30 years of age and with a salary of $2 million, that could be a tall task for him. Quite honestly, Killebrew might have to ultimately beat out Muse for one spot on the Steelers’ 53-man roster this summer.