There haven’t yet been many surprise cuts around the NFL, though the Pittsburgh Steelers’ decision to release backup outside linebacker Genard Avery certainly qualifies. But with the cutdown to 53-man rosters coming on August 30, there will no doubt be a handful of unexpected cuts and trades over the course of the next week.
The latest Steelers news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Steelers newsletter here!
Quincy Roche Was a Steelers 6th-Round Pick in 2021
One of the names being mentioned in this light is former Steelers sixth-round pick Quincy Roche, 24, who was drafted by the Steelers in the spring of 2021 and waived in the final round of roster cuts on August 31, 2021. One can argue that the Steelers made a mistake in letting him go, as he was claimed on waivers by the Giants and went on to have a very productive rookie year in New York.
In fact, he appeared in 14 games and was credited with 38 tackles (23 solo), including five tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, five quarterback hits and a forced fumble, as per Pro Football Reference.
Roche Was Regarded as a Draft ‘Steal’
If the Steelers want to get him back, they might soon have the opportunity, this according to Doug Kyed of Pro Football Focus (PFF), which in May 2021 labeled Roche as one of the 10 biggest draft steals of last year’s draft.
Roche — who is listed at 6-foot-3 and 245 pounds — was “identified by a league source as a potential surprise cut or trade candidate,” writes Kyed. “He played over 400 snaps and started three games for the Giants last season as a rookie, but it’s a new regime in New York, and Roche is seeing most of his preseason action in the fourth quarter.”
Meanwhile, it seems clear that Pittsburgh’s outside linebacker depth remains questionable at best, with former Broncos seventh-round pick Derrek Tuszka, former New York Jets edge Hamilcar Rashed Jr. and Delontae Scott the top backups behind reigning Defensive Player of the Year T.J. Watt and fellow starter Alex Highsmith.
Note that PFF had Roche rated No. 168 on its Final 2021 Big Board. That followed a college career that began at Temple, where he recorded 137 tackles, 39.5 tackles for loss and 26 sacks, not to mention six forced fumbles, five fumble recoveries and three blocked kicks. After that he spent a year at the University of Miami, where he was credited with 45 tackles — including 14.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks and three forced fumbles — in 10 games with the Hurricanes.
Ex-Steelers TE Nick Vannett Also a Top Cut Candidate
Meanwhile, PFF has also named former Steelers tight end Nick Vannett as a strong cut candidate.
“He averaged over 30 snaps per game for the Saints last season but now is mired in a positional battle with Adam Trautman, Taysom Hill, Juwan Johnson, J.P. Holtz and Lucas Krull for snaps and roster spots,” notes Kyed.
Vannett, 29, is a former third-round pick of the Seattle Seahawks (2016). He appeared in 13 games for the Steelers in 2019 and was credited with 13 receptions for 128 yards over the course of 391 offensive snaps. The Steelers acquired him in a September 2019 trade with the Seahawks, who shipped him to Pittsburgh in exchange for a 2020 fifth-round pick.
Follow the Heavy on Steelers page for the latest breaking news, rumors and content!
• Steelers Insider Likes Former $90 Million Edge Rusher to Fill Hole at OLB
• Former No. 2 Overall Pick Proclaims Steelers’ Kenny Pickett ‘Ready’
• Ex-Steelers QB Josh Dobbs Making ‘Strong Case’ to Be Browns Backup
• Analyst ‘Worried’ About Steelers’ Devin Bush, Says Myles Jack is ‘Upper Tier’
• Steelers Sign ‘Bowling Ball’ of a Rookie Running Back