Sometimes I love being wrong, while other times I hate being right. It was a welcome sight to be wrong when I believed the Steelers would not stick to their game plan with Devlin Hodges at quarterback which would cost them the game. But when I did not want to be right was if the Steelers released one of their back-up offensive linemen, he would not clear waivers to re-join the team. Unfortunately, when the Steelers released OG Fred Johnson on Friday along with Jayrone Elliott in order to promote Paxton Lynch and Trey Edmunds from the practice squad, Johnson did not clear waivers to re-join the team.
Johnson was one of the players in training camp for 2019 who came out of nowhere to make the 53-man roster. Undrafted out of the University of Florida, Johnson impressed coaches throughout training camp and played very well when given the opportunity in the preseason. Although he was on the roster, Johnson did not dress in any regular-season games for the Steelers.
Johnson was released due to the Steelers need to promote another quarterback and running back for Sunday night’s game in Los Angeles. While running back Trey Edmunds did not log a single snap on offense, he did contribute with 18 snaps on special teams. Paxton Lynch did not enter the game at all on Sunday, which is typical of a backup quarterback. But with the report on Monday that Mason Rudolph had been cleared by the independent neurologist to play on Sunday, the Steelers could have used Rudolph in a back-up role in order to preserve losing one of their young up-and-coming players.
The Steelers may get a chance to see if it was a mistake to expose Johnson to waivers as the Steelers will face the Cincinnati Bengals again in Week 12 at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati. Only time will tell if Johnson will contribute enough to be active on game day or receive any playing time for the Bengals.
With the shortage of quality offensive line play in the NFL, the Steelers should have been aware that they’re fantastic depth was something other teams coveted. The Steelers were able to trade tackle Jerald Hawkins before the start of the 2019 season to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for a 2021 draft pick. Normally a late pick in two seasons is not something to write home about, but when the Steelers had so many offensive lineman that one was going to get cut, getting anything as compensation was a welcomed sight.
While, personally, I am sad to see Johnson go as I thought he had a lot of potential as an undrafted rookie to become a quality player in Pittsburgh, I must admit that I do feel bad for him even though he may get his chance to get on the field.
After all, he is now a Cincinnati Bengal.