On Saturday January 8 the Pittsburgh Steelers waived former sixth-round pick Isaiah Buggs, one of several roster moves the organization made in anticipation of Sunday’s regular-season finale at Baltimore. Buggs had already been ruled out for the game against the Ravens due to illness, but the timing of his release suggests that Mike Tomlin & Co. had already decided he was not in the team’s plans for next season. If that is the case, the most memorable moment in his Steelers career will be his sideline spat with teammate Carlos Davis, which occurred during last year’s regular-season finale against the Cleveland Browns.
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Isaiah Buggs Went from Starting in September to ‘Inactive/Unavailable’ in December and January
Buggs had been with the Steelers since being drafted No. 192 overall in 2019, having played his college ball for Alabama. In three seasons he appeared in 29 games (with seven starts) and was credited with 31 tackles, including two tackles for loss and one quarterback hit.
This year he appeared in ten games, most recently missing time due to a ten-day stint on the Reserve/COVID-19 list that began on December 23 and ended on January 1, 2022. Prior to that he missed time with an ankle injury; his most recent game action came on November 21 against the Los Angeles Chargers. He also spent time on the Reserve/COVID-19 list in 2020, a year in which he played in ten games.
But it seems the 25-year-old fell out of favor with the coaching staff over the course of this season. As noted by Brooke Pryor, who covers the Steelers for ESPN, it’s a “weird end for the former sixth-round pick, (who) went from a starting nose tackle after Tyson Alualu’s (season-ending) injury to inactive/unavailable with an ankle injury.”
The Addition of Montravius Adams Likely Played a Role
At least one of the team’s in-season acquisitions seems to have been a factor in the decision, namely former Green Bay Packers third-round pick Montravius Adams, who was plucked off the practice squad of the New Orleans Saints on November 29, 2021. Adams has started three of the four games in which he has appeared and has been a part of 48% of Pittsburgh’s defensive snaps during that time frame, as per Pro Football Reference. Since joining the Steelers, Adams has been credited with six tackles, with one tackle for loss and three quarterback hits. In short, he’s been a noticeable presence on the defensive line.
In addition, the Steelers like how rookie defensive lineman Isaiahh Loudermilk has developed as the season has progressed. The 2021 fifth-round pick—who is 6-foot-7 and was known as ‘Big Tree’ while at Wisconsin—has played in 14 games and has recorded 22 tackles (15 solo), with one sack and three passes defensed.
Another developmental prospect to potentially keep an eye on in 2022 is practice squad defensive tackle Khalil Davis, the twin brother of Steelers defensive tackle Carlos Davis. The Steelers signed Khalil Davis—a 2020 sixth-round pick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers—on November 1, 2021, less than a month after attempting to claim him on waivers.
As for the financial implications of waiving Buggs, it’s worth noting that he had one year remaining on his rookie contract, which would have paid him $965,000 in 2022. According to overthecap.com, his release will result in the Steelers taking a dead money cap charge of $42,158 in 2022.
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