Steelers TE Matt Spaeth Will Have To Be On The 53 Man Roster, At Least Initially

The Pittsburgh Steelers will need to trim their roster down to 53 active players by Saturday evening and tight end Matt Spaeth, who is currently still recovering from Lisfranc surgery is guaranteed to be one of those 53 players, at least initially.

So why is that guaranteed? Teams are not allowed to place a player on injured reserve with the designated to return tag until after 4 p.m. eastern on Sept. 3. Last season the Steelers had to do the same thing with guard David DeCastro as he was kept on the initial 53 man roster until the window opened for them to place him on the injured reserve list with the designated to return tag.

Spaeth is nearly three weeks removed from his surgery so the team should have a pretty good idea of how much longer he will be sidelined at this point. If they feel like he will be ready following the Week 5 bye, they just might elect to carry him on the roster until then and save their one designated return tag should they need it later.

Come Sunday evening, the Steelers also must decide whether or not to place tight end Heath Miller on the Reserve PUP list, but being as they decided not to move him there this past week along with linebacker Sean Spence, it could be a sign that he will be activated to the roster when the final transactions are announced Saturday evening.

Miller was asked Tuesday if he knew what his status will be come next week and as usual, he deferred to head coach Mike Tomlin.

“I have no clue,” said Miller. You will have to ask coach that. He may have a better answer than me at this point.”

About the Author

Dave Bryan
I am, I'm me. 40 something, retired and a life long Steelers fan.
  • JohnnyV1

    TE is definitely a difficult group to speculate who lands where right now. They cannot carry Miller and Spaeth on the 53-man roster if neither of them will play for a month or more. One of them maybe, both, no. I also have a hard time thinking Spaeth will get the Injured Reserve – To Return tag. To put that on a blocking back-up TE is hard to see happening.

  • NW86

    There definitely isn’t much information out there so it’s all speculation at this point, but if I had to guess, I expect them to:
    1) Keep Miller & Spaeth on the initial 53-man on Saturday, which may only include 7 OL.
    2) Scour the waiver wire for an 8th OL, and if they find a decent one, IR-Designate Spaeth to make room. Even if he could be ready week 6, it’s probably worth sitting him out 3 extra weeks in order to open a roster spot.
    3) Allow Heath to practice and if all goes well, play week 1.

  • Matthew Marczi

    I think it make sense. They don’t have anybody else to use it on, and they can use the roster spot while he recovers. They certainly won’t cut him; they just signed him to a three-year deal. He was to be instrumental in the running game after becoming one of the best in the game in that aspect with the Bears. Miller’s blocking ability has declined over the years and will certainly be affected by his knee injury. David Johnson is also coming off an injury and has never shown polish as an in-line blocker. David Paulson does not have the strength right now to be a good base blocker. Jamie McCoy is just a guy. Michael Palmer was a decent blocking tight end, but he is behind everybody that I just mentioned on the depth chart. I think the only way he figures to make the roster is if Miller starts on the PUP, Spaeth goes on IR, and they decide to carry four tight ends anyway…which doesn’t make any sense if your tight ends on the roster are healthy. If you can get Spaeth back in the second half of the season, it makes sense, given how much the Steelers love two tight end sets.

  • Eric

    I will finally say it. Drafting Landry Jones instead of a TE while Miller and Johnson were both recovering from injuries is front office negligence. If we kept JPW and didn’t have Landry Jones this season, would anyone notice? Of course not. Yet we are all acutely aware of the injury situation at tight end right now. Kevin, WTF?

  • JohnnyV1

    I cannot ague with that. I think many would agree that a TE or an OL would have served us much better than QB in Rd 4, particularly given the play of JPW vs Jones.

  • Shelob9

    If Landry Jones lives up to his potential then he will save us from having to use a first round draft pick on a QB in 2-3 years to replace Rothlisberger. That’s an expensive gamble to have to make, with the guaranteed pay and probably having to trade up to get a top prospect. It’s worth risking a 4th round pick on a guy like Landry when we have a few years to develop him right.

  • Shelob9

    I agree no way Spaeth stays on the active roster a long with Miller on it too. It looks like Miller will not be put on IR. But, I think it’s worth risking releasing someone until Spaeth can go on IR. Potentially loosing the ILB, DB or OL that is lowest on the depth chart for the ability to bring Spaeth back later is very worth it to me.

  • Matthew Marczi

    The Jones pick is a separate issue, but the Steelers did not need to draft a tight end. Matt Spaeth was a really underrated signing. You can’t predict somebody getting a lisfranc injury. David Johnson was also retained, and the Steelers still had Paulson and McCoy. Throw in Michael Palmer as a waiver pick up, who has looked pretty good, and I still don’t see the big deal at tight end. They can get by until Miller is ready and Spaeth will be a late-season boost. As for the JPW/Jones comment, Jones was not drafted to make an impact this year. Gradkowski ideally will not make an impact this year. So should the Steelers not draft a quarterback until Roethlisberger retires?

  • Matthew Marczi

    That argument can certainly be made that the Jones pick could have been better utilized, and I will not question anybody who wants to make that argument. I will question the hindsight argument that we needed to draft a tight end, however (as explained above).

  • Gregory Carroll

    Fix the Heather Miller typing fail there Dave, Proofreading is slipping into a “lost art” status with people relying on spellcheck and predictive text.

  • JohnnyV1

    Which is the very reason I noted an O-line draftee at Rd 4 also. Didn’t need Rd 4 QB. And these blog spots are eitherhindsight, or speculation (guessing) on future events since none of us are experts, otherwise, we’d be doing it for a living.In other words, no sh*t Sherlock.
    Subject: Re: New comment posted on Steelers TE Matt Spaeth Will Have To Be On The 53 Man Roster, At Least Initially

  • Eric

    Mel Kiper was pushing us to take a TE in Round 1. Of course the need for a TE was known

  • Matthew Marczi

    Mel Kiper thrrew a hissy fit because Jimmy Clausen didn’t get drafted until the second round. You know, the guy the Panthers just cut, whose career is now in all likelihood over. Please don’t use “Mel Kiper thought we needed a tight end” as your argument.

    Spaeth, Johnson, Paulson = a fine stable of TEs to handle the load until Miller can play. That was our known commodities before the draft. TE was *not* a need. Maybe it could have been a ‘want’, even though the fact they didn’t draft a tight end suggests otherwise, but it most certainly wasn’t, and still isn’t, a need.