The following 20 players were cut:
Wide receiver Tyler Beiler, defensive end Corbin Bryant, wide receiver Toney Clemons, safety Damon Cromartie-Smith, offensive tackle Trai Essex, cornerback Terrence Frederick, wide receiver David Gilreath, running back DuJuan Harris, linebacker Brandon Hicks, defensive end Igbinosun Ikponmwosa, quarterback Jerrod Johnson, punter Jeremy Kapinos (waived/injured), center/guard Ryan Lee, guard John Malecki, wide receiver Marquis Maze, linebacker Marshall McFadden, offensive tackle Chris Scott, defensive end Jake Stoller, cornerback Josh Victorian, and wide receiver Derrick Williams.
Many of these cuts were pretty obvious, but there were a few cuts that caught my attention.
First, there is the release of Essex. I felt that the eight-year veteran would have given the Steelers the depth and experience that is greatly needed for the offensive line going into the regular season. Not knowing for certain how the knee of Max Starks will hold up, and if rookie Mike Adams will get up to speed with professional football, keeping Essex would have been a smart move.
Another move that surprised me was cutting linebackers Marshall McFadden and Brandon Hicks. Just like the offensive line, the linebacking corps is riddled with injuries, and depth is need there as well. With rookie inside linebacker Sean Spence now on the injured/reserved list, having more bodies to backup veterans Larry Foote and Lawrence Timmons would have been beneficial.
Out of the five receivers cut, I thought that Pittsburgh would have at least kept one of them. Gilreath definitely was the frontrunner in my opinion. He should be one of the first to get a callback from the Steelers to join the practice squad, assuming that he clears waivers.
Finally, Pittsburgh’s decision to keep quarterbacks Charlie Batch and Byron Leftwich really caught me off guard. I know having experience at quarterback is vital to a team’s success, but a 15-year (Batch) and a 10-year (Leftwich) veteran, along with a nine-year veteran in Ben Roethlisberger, on the same roster is unheard of. This would have been a great opportunity for Johnson to be molded into a professional quarterback.
Along with Gilreath, I’m predicting that McFadden and Hicks will make the practice squad just so that they could have some insurance at the linebacker position. I wouldn’t be surprised if they add an offensive lineman to the squad as well.
Now that the Steelers have gotten their 53-man roster in order, they can focus on the start of the real season, which starts September 9th in the Mile High City versus the Denver Broncos.
Let the countdown to the season begin Steeler Nation!
Follow me on Twitter @ClydeASpeller