With 17 days to go until the start of training camp for the Pittsburgh Steelers, we continue our 30 predictions in 30 days series with another bold claim for 2019.
Alternating daily between myself and BTSC Editor Jeff Hartman, we will offer our predictions for the upcoming season. Some will be team oriented, while others will be specific to individual players. Posing an argument for and against our predictions, we invite you to weigh in on the debate as well.
Following on from Jeff’s claim that Benny Snell Jr. will be second on the team in rushing in 2019 on Sunday, I turn my attention toward the Steelers 53-man roster.
Prediction: The Steelers will add at least two more players who will make final the 53-man roster after training camp has ended
Why it will happen: While there was once a time when it would have been absurd to suggest that Pittsburgh would be in the market for new additions as late as August, that has not always been the case as of late. From trades for names like Vance McDonald, J.J. Wilcox and Ryan Switzer, to free agent signings like Joe Haden, the Steelers have shown a far greater willingness to make last minute signings than ever before in each of the last two years.
For the purpose of this exercise, we are not counting any additions made in response to injuries suffered during training camp, but instead are focusing on new signings made to support areas of weakness identified during training camp. And although confident that Pittsburgh has enough strength and depth in most areas heading into 2019, there are still a few position groups that look like they could be in need of an upgrade ahead of the game against the New England Patriots in Week 1.
Beyond starters Terrell Edmunds and Sean Davis, it would be fair to say that reserve safeties Jordan Dangerfield and Marcus Allen might not inspire as much as some of the backup options the team has fielded in years past. When faced with a foursome of Mike Mitchell, Davis, Robert Golden and Dangerfield in 2017, Pittsburgh quickly made a move to trade for Wilcox a few days before the season started. Should a similar talent that interests them be available again this year around cut down day, adding another safety would not be out of the question.
The depth behind McDonald might be more suspect than at safety, with Xavier Grimble the only other tight end with any notable NFL experience. The prospects for third place on the depth chart range are currently a player who has only been playing the sport for one year, a rookie who was a quarterback until he arrived at college, and an undrafted free agent with marginal pedigree coming out of small college program. If a veteran talent becomes available at a price the Steelers can afford, adding them might be considered a no-brainer. A trade for a younger tight end with upside on the fringe of another roster could also be a possibility.
Why it won’t happen: With less than $1 million in salary cap space currently available, the Steelers have far less cap room to play with than they had at this time of year in each of the previous two seasons. Barring a contract extension for Haden that significantly reduces his cap hit in 2019, the only realistic way to create the space they would need is to restructure some existing deals.
However, given Pittsburgh’s impending salary cap predicament in 2020, any signing would have to be rather special to warrant borrowing from future years. It is perhaps also worth noting that with so many teams flush with cap room around the league, it is likely to be hard for the Steelers to offer a competitive salary should they be forced to enter a bidding war.
What are your thoughts on this prediction? Do you think it will happen? Or are we crazy? Let us know by voting in the poll, and letting your voice be heard in the comment section below!
Will the Steelers add at least two more players who will make the 53-man roster after training camp has ended?
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