On Wednesday New York Jets head coach Adam Gase said, “we just felt like it was best that we part ways,” referring to running back Le’Veon Bell, who the Jets decided to release on Tuesday, this after failing to find a trade partner. Then Gase proceeded to get rid of another former Pittsburgh Steelers player, releasing wide receiver Donte Moncrief from the team’s practice squad.
Moncrief had a mostly successful NFL career until he signed a two-year, $9 million contract with the Steelers in March of last year. Since then his career has taken some tortured twists and turns.
Moncrief’s downward spiral started with Pittsburgh’s 2019 season opener, when he dropped four passes during a blowout loss to the New England Patriots. He caught a total of four passes for 18 yards before the Steelers waived him in November 2019. Shortly afterwards he was claimed off waivers by Carolina, but failed to catch a pass in three games with the Panthers.
Donte Moncrief in 2020
This year it appeared Moncrief might not make it back into the league, until he got tryouts with both the San Francisco 49ers and New York Jets. Ultimately the injury-ravaged Jets signed him in late August, only to cut him a week later before adding him back to the team’s practice squad on September 6th. Then it was only three days before the 6-foot-2, 216-pound receiver landed on practice squad injured reserve.
On Wednesday he became expendable when the Jets designated wide receiver Denzel Mims—the team’s second-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft—to return to practice.
Now one wonders if Moncrief will get another chance to return to the league, this after a seven-year career in which he has played in 77 games with 43 starts. During that time, he caught 204 passes for 2,561 yards and 21 touchdowns, with a long gainer of 80 yards, which he had with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2018.
Moncrief came into the NFL in 2014 as a third-round pick of the Indianapolis Colts. His best season came in 2015 when he had 64 receptions for 733 yards and six touchdowns.
As for his association with the Steelers, Moncrief won’t be completely out of the team’s hair until next year, as he counts $1.75 million against the team’s 2020 salary cap, the team’s second-biggest liability in terms of “dead money.”
Steelers Practice Squad Week 6
Meanwhile, the Steelers have elected to protect the same four practice squad players they protected last week. That is:
WR Deon Cain
LB Jayrone Elliott
DE Henry Mondeaux
RB Wendell Smallwood
That means that those four players are not eligible to be signed to the active roster of another team until after Sunday’s game against the Browns.
Teams can designate protected players beginning at 4 p.m. on Tuesday (or Wednesday, for those teams that have a game on Monday night).
The Steelers have lost a pair of practice squad players to other teams this season, most notably nose tackle Dan McCulllers, who terminated his contract with the Steelers so he could sign with the Chicago Bears. The Steelers also lost safety Curtis Riley to the Arizona Cardinals, though the Cards have since released Riley.
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