It’s always great when a plan comes together perfectly in order for everything to work out. Unfortunately, life isn’t always that simple. It’s often those who prepare for things to go awry who can persevere through adversity.
When it comes to shaping an NFL roster, both in the offseason and when it gets trimmed down to 53 players, having a contingency plan in case things don’t go as planned can be the difference between making a run towards the postseason or talking about the draft before Thanksgiving. These moves that act as a bit of an insurance policy are wise for teams to have ready to go. But sometimes they happen and the player is never called on due to how the season plays out.
With all this in mind, here are three players that were utilized as an insurance policy which the Steelers did not have to cash in during the 2022 season.
Selected as the Steelers second seventh-round pick in the 2022 NFL draft, some thought the Steelers may have gone the undrafted free agent route to fill out the last spot in their quarterback room. But with the Steelers signing who was believed to be the biggest quarterback in free agency, as well as taking the only quarterback drafted in the first round, it wasn’t necessarily going to be a prime destinations for a young player to catch on in the NFL. For this reason, the Steelers drafted Chris Oladokun out of South Dakota State with the 241st overall selection.
But during training camp, Oladokun didn’t see any action at quarterback until well into the preseason. In fact, Oladokun was released by the Steelers in the second round of roster cuts without appearing in a preseason game.
While many questioned the Steelers selection of Oladokun after how it all played out, he acted as the insurance policy that Steelers needed in training camp. Had one or more of the Steelers quarterbacks missed time due to injury, whether minor or major, another quarterback was going to be needed to step in and fill the void. But with all three players doing all they could to show they could be the Steelers starter in 2022, none of the Steelers top three quarterbacks missed a single snap in training camp. For that reason, the insurance policy was outed out of early and Oladokun was given the opportunity to catch on with another NFL team.
Throughout the 2022 preseason, the Pittsburgh Steelers offensive line looked like they could be in trouble. Not meshing together early, the biggest concern many Steelers fans had, including myself, was going to be the Steelers quarterback or running back running for their life because the offensive line was continuing to fail play after play. Not only with the question marks on how well the starters could come together, the depth looked even more sketchy as the Steelers prepared for the regular season.
On the eve of final roster cut-downs, the Pittsburgh Steelers traded a conditional seventh-round draft pick to the Minnesota Vikings for offensive lineman Jesse Davis. With five years of experience playing both sides of the line and at guard and tackle, Davis gave the Steelers the veteran presence and the needed depth on the offensive line.
But as many Steelers fans know, Jesse Davis did not play a single offensive snap for the Steelers this season. Playing a handful of snaps each game on special teams, that’s all the action Davis saw in 2022. With three of the five offensive linemen not missing a single snap this year, and Chuks Okorafor only missing one snap in which he was replaced by Trent Scott, Davis remained on the sidelines. The only significant time missed by any offensive lineman was a half game by center Mason Cole, and center is not part of Davis’ résumé.
Had the Steelers offensive line faltered, Davis would have been there to try to be a stopgap whether it was for ineffective play or injury. Instead, the offensive line remained healthy and continued to improve throughout the season.
If Steelers fans would have answered a poll in July, an overwhelming majority would have assumed Mason Rudolph would have been traded either before or during the 2022 NFL season. But this was not the case.
With eight of the 32 NFL teams using at least three quarterbacks in 2021, the Steelers felt that a 25% chance was worth keeping all three options available as it was only three seasons ago when they had to do the same. Even though there were 12 NFL teams to start at least three quarterbacks in 2022, the Steelers were not one of them. Because of this, Mason Rudolph was inactive for 16 games with the only time he was even in uniform being Week 15 against the Carolina Panthers where he did not see the field.
While some fans were probably still hoping to get something in return for Rudolph in 2022 before he hit free agency this offseason, the Steelers held onto their insurance policy just in case.
So there are three players who the Steelers acquired or held onto in case of emergency for the 2022 NFL season. Were these wise investments for the Steelers? Were they fortunate that they did not have to call on any of these players this season? Make sure to leave your thoughts in the comments below.