When it comes to the 53 man roster for the 2019 Pittsburgh Steelers, it would be a safe bet that at least one player will be on the roster Week 1 of the season who is not currently under contract with the team. Over the last six seasons, the Steelers have made multiple moves leading up to their opening game. As injuries and other issues occur, the steelers sign and release players throughout the preseason. For this particular exercise, we will be looking at players who spent time on the 53 man roster who were not originally with the team following minicamp.
The 2013 season began with a flurry of moves before the regular season began. On August 23, the Steelers traded OLB Adrian Robinson to the Philadelphia Eagles for RB Felix Jones. Jones played in all 16 games for the Steelers, rushing for 184 yards on 48 attempts. The Steelers also claimed CB Antwon Blake off of waivers on September 1 after he was waived by the Jacksonville Jaguars. Blake appeared in 14 games in 2013, and played two additional seasons for the Steelers.
The Steelers then signed a couple of players who had been cut by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. On September 2 the Steelers signed center Cody Wallace, and one day later they signed punter Zoltan Mesko. Wallace played four seasons with the Steelers, while Mesko only managed seven games.
Sometimes mistaken for moves made before the start of the 2013 regular season, the Steelers also signed three additional players immediately following Week 1. The Steeler signed kicker Shane Graham (only for one week), guard Fernando Velasco, and re-signed running back Jonathan Dwyer.
In 2014, the only significant move the Steelers made before the season was claiming cornerback B.W. Webb off waivers on August 29 after he was released by the Dallas Cowboys. Webb logged at least one snap on either defense or special teams in 11 of the Steelers 16 games. He was released by the Steelers at the beginning of the following season.
In 2015 the Steelers were very active before the season with numerous players who would make the squad. It began on August 1 with the trade for CB Brandon Boykin from the Philadelphia Eagles for a 5th round draft pick in 2016. The Steelers made several more signings and waiver claims during the preseason with players who did not make the 53 man squad. They did claim L.J. Fort off of waivers on August 19 after he was released by the Patriots. Fort found himself in the practice squad before being called up at the end of 2015.
The Steelers also signed Michael Vick on August 25, 2015 when their options for a back up quarterback fizzled out due to injury. Another position dealing with multiple injuries was place kicker, so the Steelers traded a 2016 sixth round pick to the Jacksonville Jaguars for K Josh Scobee. The Steelers also made another trade when they sent punter Brad wing to the New York Giants for seventh round pick in 2016.
The Steeler signed two players after every team made their final cut downs in 2015. Cornerback Ross Cockrell was signed September 5 after he cleared waivers upon being released by the Buffalo Bills. Running back Jordan Todman signed with the Steelers September 6 after being released by the Carolina Panthers the day prior. On the same day, the Steelers also claimed Caushaud Lyons off of waivers from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Lyons was on the roster for three weeks but was inactive for each game. Before Week 4, Lyons was demoted to the practice squad for the rest of the season in favor of Anthony Chickillo.
During the 2016 season, the Steelers claimed Zach Mettenberger off waivers on August 31 after he was released by the San Diego Chargers. Mettenberger was the number three quarterback the entire season for the Steelers with the exception of the two games Ben Roethlisberger did not play where he served as the backup to Landry Jones.
The other move the Steelers made in 2016 just prior to Week 1 of the season was a trade with the Cleveland Browns for cornerback Justin Gilbert. A former eighth overall pick in 2014, the Steelers took a chance on Gilbert in return for a sixth round draft pick in 2017. Appearing in 12 games as mostly a special-teams player, Gilbert did have three kick returns in the regular season and three more in the playoffs. But as far as defense goes, he only logged 11 snaps in 2016 only to be released at the end of the season.
The 2017 season started with a flurry of trades by the Steelers before they played their first regular season game. It began on August 24 when the Steelers Traded Center, Lucas Crowley to the Redskins for CB Dashaun Phillips. Phillips did not make the 53 man roster, but was on the practice squad. On August 29, the Steelers sent to their 2018 fourth round draft pick to the San Francisco 49ers in exchange for TE Vance McDonald and San Francisco’s 2018 fifth round draft pick. One day later, the Steelers signed CB Joe Haden to a three-year deal after he was released by the Cleveland Browns.
On September 2, 2017, the Steelers traded away two of their players for 2018 draft picks. First they sent Ross Cockrell to the New York Giants for their seventh round draft pick. The Steelers also sent Sammy Coats and their 2018 seventh round draft pick to the Cleveland Browns for their sixth round pick.
The final trade the Steelers made leading up to the 2017 season was with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. On September 3, the Steeler sent the sixth round pick they just received from the Browns to the Buccaneers in exchange for free safety J.J. Wilcox and Tampa’s 2018 seventh round draft pick. Wilcox played in 12 games for the Steelers and had one interception before he was released the following off-season.
For the 2018 season, the Steelers were not nearly as active as they had been in past seasons. It should be noted the Steelers signed T Zach Banner on August 12 as a free agent. The reason this signing should be noted is Banner was on the 53 man roster for the entire 2018 season.
The other move the Steelers made in 2018 was on August 27 when they traded their fifth round draft pick from 2019 to the Oakland Raiders for WR/KR Ryan Switzer along with their 2019 sixth round draft pick.
It is uncertain if the Steelers will definitely make a transaction before the start of the 2019 season which will significantly affect the roster. Whether a move is made or not, it is certain that the Steelers front office will be diligent in exploring both any trade possibilities and the NFL waiver wire in order to make needed improvements for 2019.