The Pittsburgh Steelers reached the mandatory 53-man roster limit at 4 p.m. Eastern on Saturday afternoon, as the team reduced its roster to 53 players.
Headlining the list of cuts is veteran wide receiver Ryan Switzer, who seemed poised to take the next step forward in his career and predicted that he was on the road to becoming the next Julian Edelman.
Also let go was longtime backup nose tackle Daniel McCullers, who managed to stick with the Steelers for six seasons despite extremely limited production. Over the course of those six years, McCullers accounted for just 41 total tackles, including 21 solo tackles, four tackles for loss and nine quarterback hits, plus 2.5 sacks.
One rookie draft choice was cut as well, that being defensive back Antoine Brooks Jr., who was selected in the sixth round of the 2020 NFL Draft out of the University of Maryland.
The other players released were: quarterback Paxton Lynch, a former first-round draft choice of the Denver Broncos; running backs Kerrith Whyte Jr., Trey Edmunds and Wendell Smallwood; wide receivers Saeed Blacknall, DeAndre Thompkins, Deon Cain and Amara Darboh; offensive linemen Christian DiLauro, John Keenoy, Derwin Gray, Anthony Coyle and Jarron Jones; plus tight ends Kyle Markway and Kevin Rader.
On the other side of the ball, the cuts included defensive linemen Cavon Walker, Henry Mondeaux and Calvin Taylor; linebackers Tuzar Skipper and Jayrone Elliott; plus defensive backs Trajan Bandy and John Battle.
Also, undrafted free agent punter Corliss Waitman and long snapper Liam McCullough were released.
Without a preseason, head coach Mike Tomlin had to base his decisions on what he observed during training camp at Heinz Field.
But Tomlin said he felt prepared to make the decisions with the details he had.
“I feel like I have enough information to make decisions, and that’s a good thing because it’s time to make decisions,” said Tomlin on Friday after the final practice of training camp. “I thought we made good use of the time and good use of the structure of the time that was provided in terms of the work allotted.”
Pittsburgh will be able to sign 16 players to its practice squad beginning on Sunday, September 6th, so some of the players who were released will no doubt return.
Of the 16, six of them can be vested veterans—that is, players with four or more years in the league. The larger practice squad and the allowance for vested veterans is a product of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, which saw adjustments in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Pittsburgh is scheduled to play its regular season opener against the New York Giants on Monday September 14 at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey. Per order of the governor of New Jersey, there will be no fans in attendance that night.
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