The Steelers final cuts are in and overall none are a huge surprise in my opinion.
Crezdon Butler might be the one that most are scratching their head about, but he certainly was on the bubble. The Steelers stuck to their recent history of keeping six cornerbacks and when Cortez Allen finally hit the field Thursday night against the Panthers, he showed glimpses of why they drafted him. Butler had an easy interception return against the Falcons for a touchdown and while it was a splash play, it was an easy play to make and it was not enough for him to keep his job. Had he had the offseason mini-camps and OTA sessions, it might have been a different story with him, but he missed precious time in camp and preseason games and his special teams play was not enough to warrant keeping him in the eyes of the coaches. Butler is indeed eligible for the practice squad, but with the Cardinals and former Steelers defensive backs coach Ray Horton down to just four corners after they made their final cuts, it would not surprise me if he landed there. We will know by Monday. Butler seems best suited for a nickel role more than he does an outside corner position and I bet the Steelers felt the same.
Tony Hills is not an overly surprising cut either, especially after he could not win the right guard spot outright. After it starting leaking out that Doug Legursky had won the right guard spot, I posted on Twitter a few days ago that you have to ask why even keep Hills now as he is a liability still if plays left tackle. I thought the only saving grace for Hills might be that Chris Scott had showed absolutely nothing in the preseason at right guard or right tackle. Seems the coaches saw Hills as a half a trick pony and saw enough in Scott that he could be worked with. Scott is really still a rookie after missing all of last training camp and preseason and not having the offseason practices to hone his craft. For now he will be a gameday inactive and the Steelers save $1.2 million by releasing Hills. Not a totally surprising move in the end.
The Daniel Sepulveda and Jeremy Kapinos decision could have gone either way. The only way this is second guessed is if Sepulveda has yet another knee injury. The two kicked to a dead heat in preseason and I kind of thought they may have went with the safer one in Kapinos. Once again not a surprising move and I think Kapinos will not be out of work long. Just pray the Robo-punter stays healthy or a Mitch Berger type punter might be the alternative.
You knew Wesyle Saunders was going to make the roster based on his play over the final two preseason games. The question became if John Gilmore was viewed as blocking insurance until Saunders honed the rest of his game. The answer was no and it was not shocking that Gilmore was let go. I bet there were talks about keeping both or Gilmore would have been gone on Friday. Special teams coach Al Everest was allowed to keep special teams ace Arnaz Battle around instead and that likely was the only roster spot that could have opened up for Gilmore.
The Steelers chose to keep both Chris Hoke and Steve McLendon as Hoke has great position flexibility still and McLendon was hot on his tail this preseason. This is likely the final year for Hoke and McLendon is best suited as a future nose tackle with some versatlity moving forward. It is not a total surprise they kept both. McLendon played himself onto the roster in preseason. He earned it.
The only surprise about Jarrett Crittenton is that he made it an extra day, but the Steelers might think he is practice squad worthy going forward. It might be him or Corbin Bryant for that spot and we will know on Monday.
The bottom end of the roster was much more fun to watch this year compared to last year overall, but I will not call any of the cuts earth shattering surprises.