clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The forgotten Steelers inside linebacker for 2023

As much discussion has been made about the Steelers depth at the inside linebacker position, one player from the 53-man roster in 2022 continues to be overlooked.

Detroit Lions v New York Giants Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Inside linebacker position has been a continued topic of discussion throughout the Pittsburgh Steelers 2023 offseason. With numerous players being unrestricted free agents when the league year kicked off earlier this month, the list of players still on the roster who were discussed consisted pretty much of Myles Jack and Mark Robinson.

Once free agency got underway on March 13, the Steelers lost several players who had been inside linebackers for them in 2022 but signed two free agents in Cole Holcomb and Elandon Roberts. After the signing of Roberts was announced, the Steelers released Myles Jack and saved $8 million in salary cap space.

As the offseason rolls on, many Steelers fans and media talk about the inside linebacker position and how the Steelers only have three players in Holcomb, Roberts, and Robinson. Not even taking into consideration any players who signed a Reserve/Future contract with a Steelers, there is a player who finished the season on the Steelers 53-man roster at linebacker who has been completely left off these lists. Who could this player be?

Enter Tae Crowder.

For many Steelers fans, this name may sound vaguely familiar as he was signed to the roster at the end of December ahead of their Week 17 matchup against the Baltimore Ravens when the Steelers placed inside linebacker Marcus Allen on the Reserve/Injured list. New to the roster, Crowder was inactive for the Steelers the final two games of the season.

So who is Tae Crowder? Here is the breakdown that was written at BTSC the day it was announced he was signed by the Steelers from the New York Giants practice squad:

Tae Crowder was a seventh round selection by the New York Giants in the 2020 NFL Draft out of Georgia. In his rookie season, Crowder appeared in 11 games with six starts and had 57 tackles, one sack, one pass defense, and a 43-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown. In his second season, Crowder started all 17 games for the Giants and had 130 tackles with a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, six passes defensed, and two interceptions. Crowder appeared in 13 games with the Giants with eight starts in 2022 with 45 tackles, one sack, one forced fumble, and one pass defensed. One week ago, the Giants waived Crowder, who was then signed to their practice squad two days later.

Because Crowder was brought in off of another team’s practice squad late in the season, he has been an afterthought by most fans. But should he be? Looking simply at the amount of playing time and starts his had with the Giants should maybe cause Steelers fans to take notice and consider the Steelers actually have four players at the position heading into the 2023 NFL draft.

Actually, Tae Crowder has more stars in the last two seasons than new Steelers linebacker Cole Holcomb. Crowder started 25 games between 2021 and 2022 while Holcomb only started 23 as he missed 12 games last season due to injury. Additionally, Crowder’s 1,098 snaps played in 2021 is more than either of the Steelers new linebackers have tallied in a single season. And when it comes to playing time, Crowder is on a whole different level than Mark Robinson who has only played 44 snaps on defense in his NFL career.

I’m not saying the Tae Crowder is the answer for the Steelers for 2023. If looking at his grades by Pro Football Focus throughout his career, they have not been very impressive. But when it comes to a seventh-round draft pick, it’s not like they are expected to set the world on fire. But at the same time, a seventh-round draft pick with much less experience is the only other player on the Steelers depth chart for inside linebacker at this time other than the two players added through free agency.

If the Steelers were to make a signing right now for an inside linebacker at a league minimum cost with over 30 starts in three seasons, fans would probably take a notice. Considering it a depth piece, there might even be a talking point that the player could be a valuable asset to enter into the rotation or even possibly have a spot start when needed. But the fact that Crowder was on the roster at the end of December has simply made him an afterthought.

With all the talk of the Steelers only having three inside linebackers on the roster, I thought it was important to remind Steelers’ Nation there is another option for the time being on the roster. Whether or not Crowder shows enough throughout this offseason and training camp to make the 53-man roster in 2023 is a whole other question.