Steelers Roster Cuts Headlined by Former Bears Draft Pick

Stephen Denmark

Emilee Chinn/Getty Images Stephen Denmark of the Pittsburgh Steelers warms up prior to the 2021 Hall of Fame Game against the Dallas Cowboys on August 5, 2021.

On Tuesday afternoon, the Pittsburgh Steelers released five players, thereby reducing their roster to 85 in time for the 4 p.m. (ET) deadline. As noted by Brooke Pryor of ESPN, the Steelers took things right down to the wire, with 90 players in attendance at Tuesday afternoon’s practice, which got underway at 1:30 p.m. Eastern.

The five players who were waived are:

Offensive Lineman Brandon Walton

Walton—who was signed to a one-year Reserve/Future contract in January—has been running with the third-team at left guard, and he recently encountered newfound competition when the team signed former Ohio State offensive guard Malcom Pridgeon on August 9. Walton originally came to the Steelers last September, joining the team’s practice squad after a stint on the practice squad of the Buffalo Bills–the team that signed him as an undrafted free agent out of Florida Atlantic.

Wide Receiver Isaiah McKoy

The competition to win a job with Pittsburgh’s wide receiver group is stiff. Not only are the four top spots locked up (by JuJu Smith-Schuster, Chase Claypool, Diontae Johnson and James Washington), this year’s group of undrafted free agents is particularly strong, led by Rico Bussey (North Texas/Hawaii) and Mathew Sexton (Eastern Michigan), the latter of whom offers significant upside potential as a kick returner.

Defensive Lineman Abdullah Anderson

Likewise, the talent and depth on Pittsburgh’s defensive line is exceptional, so it’s not a surprise that Abdullah Anderson could not rise above third- or fourth-team status. Anderson had been with the Steelers since April. He’s a former undrafted free agent (Bucknell University) who has six games of NFL experience with the Chicago Bears.

Placekicker Sam Sloman

It’s a mild surprise that the Steelers didn’t keep Sloman around, at least until the next round of cuts, if only to lighten the load on Chris Boswell. Never mind that Sloman had a somewhat shaky Hall of Fame game against the Dallas Cowboys, converting one of two field goal attempts and one of two extra-points. The former Rams and Titans kicker (who signed with the Steelers in July) rebounded in Pittsburgh’s second preseason game, making a short field goal and going two for two on extra-points.

Cornerback Stephen Denmark

Last but not least, there’s cornerback Stephen Denmark, a 2019 seventh-round pick of the Chicago Bears. Denmark is a converted wide receiver out of Division II Valdosta State. He signed a one-year Reserve/Future contract in January, but hasn’t developed enough to warrant a longer look.

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Patriots Release Former Steelers Offensive Tackle Jerald Hawkins

Meanwhile, ex-Steelers offensive tackle Jerald Hawkins was released by New England on Sunday, having been signed by the Patriots little more than two weeks ago. Hawkins was drafted by the Steelers in the fourth round of the 2016 NFL Draft out of LSU. He was dealt to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Aug. 2019—part of a trade that yielded a 2021 sixth-round pick, which the Steelers used to select outside linebacker Quincy Roche.

Last September the Steelers plucked Hawkins off the practice squad of the Houston Texans after starting right tackle Zach Banner suffered a torn ACL in the season opener. He went on to dress for 13 games, though he was part of just 81 total snaps.

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