Following the 2021 NFL draft where the Steelers made nine picks, they signed eight undrafted free agents to round out the remainder of their offseason roster. After two more free agent signings and releasing four players, the Steelers are currently at the league-mandated, 90-player maximum.
While it is entirely possible, is highly likely the 90 players currently under contract right now with the Steelers will not be the exact same 90 who open training camp, hopefully at St. Vincent College in Latrobe, PA. With rookie mini camp next weekend, the Steelers will have several tryout players who could earn a spot on the offseason roster ahead of a player they already have under contract. But even if these players make the 90-man roster, will they ultimately land on the 53 come September?
The Steelers have had players on rookie tryouts actually end up making the team. In fact, two players in 2019 who did not have a deal when they entered rookie mini camp ended up spending time on the Steelers 53-man roster during the season. Both Tuzar Skipper and Devlin Hodges went the rookie-tryout route to ultimately end up in the NFL. But technically, neither player was on the Steelers roster in Week 1 as Skipper was released the day before the game and Hodges was signed to the practice squad prior to Week 2.
So are there places where players could still earn their spot on the 53-man roster but are still not signed with the Steelers?
Beyond rookie mini camp, there are still a number of NFL free agents available should the Steelers choose to add someone at a given position. As time goes on, the price for these players may be going down, which means there could be an opportunity for the Steelers to grab another player if the price is right. If so, they would have a more-than-decent chance to make the 53-man roster.
Another route comes from players going on and off the 90-man roster throughout Steelers training camp. In fact, this is how tackle Zach Banner landed with the Steelers in 2018 as he was not on the team at the beginning of training camp. Just because the Steelers bring in a player during training camp does not mean they are merely there to give them another body and they could ultimately make the 53-man roster.
Yet another surprisingly highly likely route for a player to land on the Steelers 53-man roster would come following the cut down date in September. With 32 teams releasing 37 players, there are over 1,000 players who are currently on a roster who will be available for the regular season. The Steelers are known to scour the waiver wire as well speak to veteran players and add someone to their team following preseason games but before the start of Week 1. In 2020, Sean Davis returned back to Pittsburgh after being released from Washington. Another example is in 2015 when the Steelers claimed cornerback Ross Cockrell after he was released by the Buffalo Bills.
So even though the Steelers have 90 players to choose from, it is still somewhat likely there will be a player or two with the Steelers in Week 1 of the 2021 season who is not currently on the roster. Whether or not any of these players who could be added at a later date becomes a significant contributor in 2021 will remain to be seen. But for Steelers fans who think that the team has glaring holes at certain positions on the depth chart, if their young players do not work out after the 2021 preseason, there is still a chance the Steelers will make the necessary moves to sure up the roster when the regular season rolls around.