Anytime an NFL team brings in a new batch of talent, there is a chance a veteran loses his job to a younger player. It’s the nature of the beast and Father Time loses no battles, except with James Harrison.
So, after the 2017 NFL Draft and the undrafted rookie free agents to follow, which members of the Pittsburgh Steelers should possibly be worried about their roster spots? Actually, there are quite a few, and we’ll break them down for you right here.
The addition of Juju Smith-Schuster should have all four of these players sweating a bit. The second-round pick can play both the slot and the outside, but he also possesses the ability to return kicks if necessary. Hunter, a free-agent acquisition, could be the first one out the door if he doesn’t impress early. Heyward-Bey, who’s valuable on special teams, would be in a very tough battle for a roster spot with second-year receiver Demarcus Ayers and third-year wideout Sammie Coates.
A lot depends on exactly how many wide receivers the Steelers plan to carry in 2017, but with Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant, Eli Rogers and Smith-Schuster taking up four spots, even if they decide to keep six wide receivers, someone is going to be the odd man out.
After the 2015 fumble against the Denver Broncos in the AFC Divisional round, Toussaint has had an uphill battle to see the football field. He occasionally returned kickoffs (albeit poorly), but playing behind Le’Veon Bell and DeAngelo Williams had him relegated to sideline duty on most game days.
After the team spent a third-round pick on James Conner, and acquired Knile Davis this offseason, Toussaint will have to really prove his worth if he wants to remain on the team.
“With the 30th pick in the NFL Draft, the Steelers select linebacker T.J. Watt.”
When Chickillo and Moats heard that, it had to make them shudder. After Bud Dupree and James Harrison, the team usually keeps only four outside linebackers. Watt seems to be the perfect build for the team’s sub packages, showing the capability to play some inside linebacker as well as rushing off the edge. Chickillo has yet to show the true progress most expected from him.
Keeping four linebackers would likely mean either Chickillo or Moats is the odd man out in this scenario.
The Steelers didn’t just take Cameron Sutton in the third round, and Brian Allen in the fifth, they also brought in free agent Coty Sensabaugh to help fill out the depth at the cornerback position.
Sutton can play both the slot and the outside, but with Artie Burns and Ross Cockrell as the entrenched starters on the outside, it looks as if the true competition will come at the slot position(s). William Gay could be moved to more of a safety role, but Sensabaugh, Sutton and Golson, if he stays healthy, will be in for a long battle in the slot.
If the Steelers keep five cornerbacks, with Burns, Cockrell and Sutton being the guaranteed roster spots, it would be a tough battle between Sensabaugh, Gay, Golson and Allen for those final spots. Again, someone will be the odd man out.
I can’t believe I am writing about a long-snapper position battle, but that’s what the Steelers are faced with. Incumbent starter, Greg Warren, signed a one-year contract with the team this offseason, but then the Steelers drafted Colin Holba in the sixth round. Go with the cheaper youth? Or stick with the veteran and place a long-snapper on the practice squad? Tough decisions to be made.