Early Tuesday afternoon the Pittsburgh Steelers released 24 players on the way to setting their initial 53-man roster, leaving a handful of moves that had to be made by the 4 p.m. ET deadline. The Steelers went on to make a second round of moves, in which the team released two offensive linemen, as well as a cornerback, running back and linebacker.
The biggest name among the final cuts is fourth-year cornerback Justin Layne, if only because he’s a 2019 third-round pick (No. 83 overall, Michigan State) who has played just 145 snaps on defense since he was drafted. That said, his release was no surprise, despite the fact that he has appeared in 43 regular-season games, according to Pro Football Reference (PFR). The moves saves the Steelers $965,000 in salary, per spotrac.com, but results in a dead money cap charge of just $230,545.
RB Anthony McFarland Jr. ‘Practice Squad Bound’?
The next-most-prominent name among the final roster cuts is running back Anthony McFarland Jr.
McFarland has been with the Steelers since the organization made him a fourth-round pick (No. 124 overall) in the 2020 draft out of Maryland. He has appeared in 13 games since being drafted, having carried the ball 36 times for 113 yards in the course of those games.
According to Bob Pompeani of KDKA-TV in Pittsburgh, McFarland is potentially “practice squad bound.”
LB Marcus Allen, Too
Meanwhile, the Steelers also released inside linebacker Marcus Allen, who was a fifth-round pick of the team in the 2018 draft. He played in 33 games (with three starts) in the past four years and has been credited with 45 tackles, including two tackles for loss and two quarterback hits.
Last but not least, the team also released veteran offensive linemen Joe Haeg and Trent Scott, effectively swapping one of them for versatile O-lineman Jesse Davis, who was acquired in a trade with the Minnesota Vikings.
Davis, who turns 31 on September 15, is a former undrafted free agent out of Idaho who has played in 80 career games (72 starts), all of those coming with the Miami Dolphins between 2017-21.
The Jesse Davis trade was the second of two trades that the Steelers made on August 30, the other being the acquisition of outside linebacker Malik Reed, who comes over from the Denver Broncos. Reed, 26, has started 34 games over the course of his three-year career and has been credited with 123 total tackles (74 solo), with 15 sacks, 15 tackles for loss and 30 quarterback hits, according to PFR.
Najee Harris’ Lisfranc Injury a ‘Non-Issue’?
During his press availability on Tuesday, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin took the time to address Najee Harris’ foot injury. You may recall that Harris “got his foot stepped on” during a training camp practice back on August 1.
After the preseason victory over the Detroit Lions on Sunday, Harris revealed that he has been suffering from a Lisfranc sprain.
According to Pryor, Tomlin said the injury is a “non-issue,” as the 2021 first-round pick was able to practice all last week.
Harris rushed the ball four times for 10 yards in the 19-9 win over the Lions this past Sunday, and also caught three passes for 11 yards.