There are varying levels of degrees of concern when it comes to the Pittsburgh Steelers‘ wide receivers following the team’s decision to trade Martavis Bryant earlier this offseason. At the moment, two of their top three wide receivers project to have a combined 15 games of playing experience, including the postseason, those being JuJu Smith-Schuster and rookie James Washington.
One relatively easy way that the Steelers would be able to add some veteran depth to the group would be to re-sign wide receiver Eli Rogers, who suffered a torn ACL in the team’s playoff loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars in January. According to Joe Rutter, he is at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex today, presumably for rehab, but the beat writer said that Rogers “is hopeful to be re-signed”.
Eli Rogers was at the Steelers UPMC Rooney Complex on Wednesday and said he is hopeful to be re-signed. Said his knee injury is progressing well.
— Joe Rutter (@tribjoerutter) June 13, 2018
The former undrafted free agent entered this offseason as a restricted free agent, but with his injury and the emergence of Smith-Schuster a year ago, who took over most of his snaps in the slot, the team elected not to give him a tender, and no other team has yet signed the injured wide receiver.
Rogers also told Rutter that “his knee injury is progressing well”. He would be about five months removed now from the injury. He previously spoke to the team’s website a month or two ago and said that he has been ahead of schedule.
As long as things continue to develop well, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him under contract again with the Steelers at some point over the course of the next couple of months. Perhaps by the time the regular season begins, but he could always be signed during the year as well.
While the team has Antonio Brown as a perennial first-team All-Pro performer and a couple of young high-pedigreed draft picks that they intend to make up their nucleus at the position, the depth behind them leaves something to be desired: proven production.
There are a couple of veterans who have underperformed over the course of their careers, most notably former first-round pick Darrius Heyward-Bey, who has transformed himself into a true team player who excels on special teams. There is also Justin Hunter, a former second-round pick back in Pittsburgh for a second season. He was on the 53-man roster but spent a number of games inactive. He caught a few passes, one for a touchdown.
The player most hoping to benefit from Rogers’ absence is Marcus Tucker, who originally made the 90-man roster as a 2016 rookie minicamp workout invitee. He has spent time on the practice squad the past two years, including all of last season, and plans on making the jump to the 53-man roster in 2018. Bringing Rogers back would likely pose a major challenge to that goal.