Steelers Initial Final 53 Both Keeps And Breaks With Traditions

The Pittsburgh Steelers trimmed their roster to 53 players today, with some surprising cuts among them. The team remained orthodox in some ways, such as keeping three quarterbacks, while breaking with tradition in others by keeping only three outside linebackers or going with less-tenured players over veterans.

I happened to have flipped the wrong way at the last minute on a few of these decisions, predicting breaking tradition when they stuck with it and expecting traditionalism when they defied expectations.

The most talked about move will certainly be the front office sticking to their guns and retaining three quarterbacks on the 53-man roster despite a league-wide trend of fewer and fewer teams doing so.

The expansion of the practice squad in recent weeks only made it more palatable to dump a quarterback on the scout team, but the Steelers decided to give Landry Jones another year of seasoning, despite a very underwhelming preseason performance.

Meanwhile, the Steelers did indeed choose to retain nine offensive linemen, but the majority assumption was that Guy Whimper would be among them if that number were kept. He was not, instead losing his spot to Chris Hubbard, a second-year former undrafted free agent interior offensive lineman. Both spots could prove to be tenuous depending on what the waiver wire brings, however.

I did speculate during the offseason that the Steelers might carry 11 defensive backs this year, and the late injury to Brice McCain and signing of B.W. Webb made that happen. This, too, could change, however, if McCain proves to be a candidate for the short-term injured reserve list.

That could be good news for one of the other surprise cuts, outside linebacker Chris Carter, who survived three seasons before missing the roster for the first time.

Should McCain or another player land on the short-term IR, the outside linebacker position would be the likely target to fill, because the Steelers kept only three pure outside linebackers.

I also predicted that the glut of talent at wide receiver would result in an abundance of players being kept, when as little as five was widely speculated.

Instead, eight in total were kept, including Dri Archer as a wide receiver slash running back, and Derek Moye expected to be signed to the practice squad provided that he clears waivers. The Steelers chose to decide the three-way ‘battle’ between Moye, Justin Brown, and Darrius Heyward-Bey by keeping all of them.

Many were less surprised than I was that the Steelers chose to keep Michael Palmer over David Paulson. I predicted that the latter would be kept, incorrectly estimating the team’s view of the third-year tight end, despite the fact that I too would likely have gone with Palmer over Paulson given a decision-making role.

Still, I believe the team’s willingness to part with players such as Carter, Paulson, and Whimper reveal a front office that perhaps isn’t as predictable as it has been in the past. Or perhaps the available talent is more mercurial than in recent years.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.

  • CuldesacBill

    I think that keeping Chris Hubbard is the most surprising choice they made. We’ll see after today if they make any other moves.

  • I’m just glad they got rid of Whimper. Even though his play had slightly improved, I believe he reached his peak. He’s just not good enough.

  • steeltown

    You said the names..Carter, Paulson and Whimper.. I mentioned on another thread, im glad they wised up. Carter and Paulson have shown no real growth in the yrs they’ve been here and with the Team keeping 6WRs, plus Archer and WJ there’s no need to carry Paulson who is basically just another (slow) WR and Whimper, well, Whimper looked worse than last year. I can see them picking up another OL of waivers and relegating Hubbard to the practice squad

  • Jacque Strappe

    I totally agree, I think they could upgrade McCain easily.

  • Dan

    I finally caught the replay of the Carolina game. I really think they should have booted Landry to the PS. He rarely connected on anything beyond the line of scrimmage and is as evasive as Mike Adams.

  • HecklerSpray

    They could have booted him all the way to the curb as far as I was concerned, but not having him on at least the practice squad is sickening. He will never be an NFL quarterback. Seems like we’re keeping him just to say we have three quarterbacks. If both Ben and Gradkowski got hurt, I guarantee we would be looking for a Rex Grossman type before we would put Jones in, and if that is the case, why keep him?

  • Dan

    I guess everybody that got cut and everybody on the waiver wire is a worse football player than him. Seems hard to believe. Guess it makes the GM look bad to cut a 4th rd pick (er, really a 3rd round pick).