Patriots Try Out Failed Steelers Receiver

Donte-Moncrief

Maddie Meyer/Getty Images Donte Moncrief of the Pittsburgh Steelers is tackled by the New England Patriots during a game on September 08, 2019.

On Saturday the New England Patriots worked out former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Donte Moncrief, most recently with the lowly New York Jets. The Patriots are getting thin at wide receiver, especially with Julian Edelman recently added to the team’s injured reserve list and N’Keal Harry not yet recovered from a concussion.

Still, the Patriots ought to be intimately familiar with how far Moncrief has fallen since his best days with the Indianapolis Colts (2014-17) and Jacksonville Jaguars (2018).


Donte Moncrief’s Pittsburgh Steelers Debut

That’s because on September 8, 2019, Moncrief suited up in his first game as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers—and promptly dropped four passes during a 33-3 blowout loss to the Patriots at Gillette Stadium. Despite his disastrous outing (10 targets, three catches, seven yards), which he called his “worst game ever,” the Steelers gave him another chance in Week 2 against the Seattle Seahawks, and he let a pass go through his hands that resulted in Mason Rudolph’s first career interception.

Moncrief played little for the Steelers after that, so when the team finally cut him in early November 2019 he had accumulated a mere four catches for 18 yards. Pittsburgh had no choice but to release him, really; by doing so it preserved a 2020 third-round compensatory pick that was used to select outside linebacker Alex Highsmith, a pick that the team was scheduled to lose after the Philadelphia Eagles released ex-Steelers linebacker L.J. Fort in a surprise mid-season move.

But the Steelers are still feeling the effects of signing Moncrief to a two-year, $9 million contract in March 2019, as he counts for $1.75 million in dead money on the team’s 2020 salary cap, second only to former Steelers linebacker Mark Barron, who counts $2.875 million against the cap.


Donte Moncrief’s NFL Journey in 2020

It’s an ominous sign, though, that Moncrief was unable to stick with the winless Jets, even as a member of New York’s practice squad.

After tryouts with the San Francisco 49ers and the Jets, Adam Gase & Co. signed Moncrief in August, only to release him a week later before signing him back to the practice squad and then finally cutting ties with him in mid-October.

Regardless, it’s been a while since Moncrief had a productive NFL season. His two best seasons came in 2015 with the Indianapolis Colts (64 receptions for 733 yards and six touchdowns) and in 2018 with the Jacksonville Jaguars (48 receptions for 668 yards and three touchdowns).


Former Steelers FB Roosevelt Nix & the Patriots

For what it’s worth, the Patriots also had former Steelers fullback Roosevelt Nix in for a tryout on October 24.

Nix signed a one-year contract with the Indianapolis Colts in April but was released on August 31.

Like Moncrief and Barron, Nix still counts against Pittsburgh’s 2020 salary cap, fifth-most among eight players at $875,000.

Meanwhile, the Patriots fell to 2-5 on Sunday thanks to a 24-21 loss to the 6-2 Buffalo Bills, who sit atop the AFC East. Second-year wide receiver Jakobi Meyers was New England’s leading receiver in the game, catching six passes on 10 targets for 58 yards.

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